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The Vision Project ‘Food from soil to shelf’

By Márcia Monteiro

Project Leader of “VISION-Food from soil to shelf 2014-2015″

I would start by introducing myself, I’m Márcia Monteiro from the exquisite city of Porto and I’m the current project leader of Vision. You may be wondering, why Food from soil to shelf? First of all, being from a country where agriculture has a very important role in the economy, I can’t avoid to be involved, second of all, as Industrial engineers, we all have our passions, and having grown up in a family that produces Port Wine, I became an agriculture aficionado. In a nutshell, these vision series gather a big part of my personal and professional interests.

The Vision Project is a Pan-European series of seminars that has been established since 1993. It targets Industrial Engineering and Management students throughout Europe, annually electing main topics of discussion. Each series typically consists of 8-10 seminars; the series gathers around 25 participants and lasts between 5-7 days. The contents of the series consist of academic lectures, company orientations and visits, workshops as well as cultural activities.

This year, the Vision topic is Food from soil to shelf. This topic intends to focus on every aspect related to food and the role of an industrial engineer on the process. The food sector is one of the most challenging ones in terms of trading, since its products have a restricted lifetime. Is it possible to keep this continuous growing without taking care of the natural resources? Which are the new world strategies to ensure the food supply? What are the advantages or disadvantages of using biofuels? Can we reduce the impact on tomorrow’s sustainability? This and more questions will be carefully analysed during this year, trying to find the best possible solutions, discussing them with professionals from different companies, improving our engineering skills and developing new ideas between students. From the production and safety to logistics and politics, we will have an overall of the whole topic and even get to know how some specific industries work (space food and fish).

As the Vision project aims to increase its reach and the quality of its events, we have decided to implement some new ideas. This year we will have a system called AdVision. This system aims to gather students related to Vision and professors from all over the world. Using the expertise of the professors we will make the quality of our events rise.

We will soon send an Open call to professors who may be interested in shaping the Industrial Engineering and Management education one step at a time, starting with Food from soil to shelf.

ESTIEM is a wide network with several projects and committees. Unfortunately we still don’t take full advantage from each other so, this year, Vision and businessbooster joined forces and will have not one, but two joint events. Business Booster is another project from ESTIEM that aims at creating an environment where all needed information, experience and support to excel in professional endeavours can be found. The goal of this unique environment is to boost entrepreneurial spirit and engage ESTIEMers, Alumni and companies to collaborate with each other. We believe that this topic has several business opportunities that may interest our students so we decided to provide them with all the tools they need to startup their own business within the food industry.

This year 11 different seminars will be organized by 14 different local groups. On the table below you can see where our events will take place and which topics each of them will have. In Istanbul, at the Final Conference, we will have Panel Discussions about the future of this industry and experienced guests who will provide us with very interesting insights on this matter.

For further details or questions I’m available on

As we usually say:

You need Vision to see!


Brussels 19-26 October 2014 Food Safety
Moscow 12-18 November Space Food
Grenoble & Lyon 30-07 December Food Politics “Cohabitation of large grocery stores with local production”.
Karlsruhe 11-17 January Corporate Social responsibility
Trondheim 27-02 February Fish Industry
Helsinki & Tampere 09-15 February Farming
Istanbul Yildiz & Ankara METU 02-08 March Food city logistics
Xanthi 19-25 March Food Production
Hamburg 26-01 April Maritime food logistics
Seville 05-11 May More than Energy
Istanbul ITU 28-02 June Final Conference
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What Should IT Experts Know from “Getting to Yes”?

The book “Getting to Yes” discusses the dangers of positional arguing. By focusing on your position, every compromise feels like a loss and leads to loss aversion. By focusing on a mutual solution, people remove themselves (mostly) from the emotional investment in their positions and can open themselves up to solutions other than somewhere in between two opposing positions. Positioning the negotiation as a problem solving session is the only solution when there are multiple parties involved and necessary to develop true objective criteria for a solution instead of simple consensus.
There are several take-aways IT professionals can draw from this book.
• Always devise several solutions so that you can analyze the merits and flaws of each solution. Even if the originally proposed solution is selected, now you know that it is, indeed, the best choice and the weaknesses of the solution.
• When scheduling down-times or selecting software changes, focusing on the problem instead of each person’s position (no downtime this weekend!) improves the odds of a workable solution. Several parties all screaming “Not now! You’ll ruin my shipment schedule!” can delay fixes until catastrophic failures occur, though that is something no one wants.
• Separate software problems from the people reporting them. Don’t assume an ID10T is the problem, no matter how emotional or lacking their explanation of the error.
• The 10% of users who report 90% of the problems may be configuration managers discovering problems due to their higher access level or greater use of the system. See them as beta testers, not annoyance.
• Research how others solve the problem, instead of charging ahead to devise a fix yourself and be the hero.
• Limit negotiations in software projects to the true stakeholders, and don’t forget that a user representative like a project lead for the customer is one of the stakeholders.
• Debate solutions on their technological merits and resource demands, not what is hot in the industry right now.
• Set objective criteria to justify software changes, not keeping up with the latest software practices barring IT security.
• Realize that frustrated users will ramp up the priority of their problems, making them emotionally invested parties in any negotiation. The fact that they’ve had to put in a change request is a guarantee that they are already in a positional negotiating position.
• Software projects are ideally long term. Don’t fight for a stance today for the next release when the dominance struggle hurts the working relationship for the next three releases.

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Brilliant Bracelets: Engaging Girls in STEM

Brilliant Bracelets

By Britta Rowan
Social Media Director
IIE Twin Cities

Engaging girls in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) is becoming an increasingly hot topic in the public forum. According to a report compiled by the National Girls Collaborative Project, girls’ participation and performance in science and math are improving over time but boys still perform better on average and only 15% of women entering college choose a Science or Engineering field versus nearly 30% of men. Perhaps even more discouraging, once women choose a STEM field, they are less likely to stick around than their male counterparts. An article published earlier this year in the Washington Post shared a Center for Talent Innovation (CTI) report that shows that women working in science and high-tech fields are 45% more likely to leave the industry within one year compared to their male counterparts.

A literature review compiled by the Girls RISE National Museum Network suggests that fostering a “science identity,” or the idea of seeing one’s self as affiliated with science and understanding the world the way a scientist does, is necessary to motivate girls to pursue STEM coursework and careers. The research also shows that it is important to start early in developing science identity, and that the best informal STEM programs to increase school-aged girls’ interest in science are hands-on, student-centered, collaborative, and low-pressure.

The Twin Cities IIE professional chapter is doing their part by hosting STEM outreach focused on getting girls excited about industrial engineering. Chapter 38 members volunteer at the IIE-hosted “Brilliant Bracelets experiment” which is designed to share traditional IE topics like brainstorming, layout design, standard work, and line balancing through a fun and colorful bracelet assembly line activity. The experiment was designed by former and current board members Christy Strong and Jenna Weiland, and has been staged at least twice annually over the past six years in partnership with the local SWE chapter, which organizes outreach events for Girl Scouts and local underprivileged student groups.

The  activity begins by introducing the basics of industrial engineering through a short presentation on the types of jobs an IE can perform in industry, followed by a fun, hands-on activity where each table of participants becomes a team working in a bracelet “factory” producing Brilliant Bracelets for picky customers that demand lots of bracelets with strict quality requirements. After a first round where the groups are frustrated by a poor factory layout, confusing raw materials, and suboptimal work instructions, the girls work in teams to develop ideas for improvement and implement their envisioned future state in order to produce bracelets more quickly and with higher quality. At the end of the experiment, they become the true end customers when each student receives her own bracelet to take home to keep.

Feedback from volunteer coordinators staged at the exits of the last few events indicates that the Brilliant Bracelets activity is a huge hit with participants. One coordinator passed on an especially encouraging message after a recent event:

“I was polling girls as they were exiting and there were several enthusiastic accounts of the bracelet activity and girls interested in becoming industrial engineers! You really made an impact!”

If you are a continuous improvement professional in the Twin Cities and you would like more information on how to get involved, please contact Britta Rowan ( to be notified the next time there is an opportunity to volunteer at a Brilliant Bracelets event. Planning is currently underway for our second event in 2014, which is tentatively scheduled for early October!

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Personal IT Security and Lessons from Life

We increasingly live our lives through our devices, be it PCs or PDAs. While the balance between convenience and IT security is a personal decision, IT security creates massive headaches when you’ve died – and your family has to figure out how to get to the data you may sought to protect. What could you do personally to maintain personal IT security and make things easier for your family? And what could (and should) relatives do when you die to clean up your digital life?

While IT security policies say never, ever write down your passwords, write down your PERSONAL passwords and user IDs so that family members can log in to accounts to pay bills electronically, review statements and access information. And make sure they know where this password file is, and then update it as often as you update your passwords.

Does your account have security questions? The answers to those questions may be obvious to you, but they may not be obvious to your family. Include the answers to security questions in your password information file.

Do not donate someone’s computer until verifying that you have removed all personal files from the PC, all financial software, all browser history and any other information that could be used to impersonate someone online. The last thing you need is someone picking up a cheap donor PC, opening the browser and having access to Grandma’s bank account because the user ID and password were saved to the device. In fact, after you’ve saved all the financial files, transferred all the photos and are otherwise done with the PC, go ahead and install one of the light Linux operating systems on it to wipe everything out and THEN donate the PC to charity.

If you have backups of tax filings or financial software files, ensure that this information is recorded somewhere that isn’t encrypted, locked in a safety deposit box no one can access until the will is probated or otherwise inaccessible. For example, have a USB drive with the Quicken backups in the “love drawer” where all important legal documents like wills and deeds are kept.

However, you should encrypt the USB drive that holds your financial files and personal documents so they can’t be accessed by someone you don’t want to have access to them. You don’t want a maid or caregiver being able to take a thumb drive with Mom’s tax returns and drain all the accounts.

Where applicable and practical, update the person’s social networking profile to “deceased”, “unavailable” or whatever option is appropriate. Facebook actually has the option to set up a memorial page if you don’t just want to close the account. The Wall Street Journal warns that logging onto the site as someone who has died violates the terms of service. If you do log in as that person, for the love of that person or a higher power, don’t go snooping through prior message history or post content as that person for the sake of a prank. (No one in my family actually did this.)

Start closing down online accounts to minimize the risk of theft and fraud. If the person’s Amazon account is shut down, no one can hack in and order two big screen TVs from it. Notify Blizzard Entertainment or other gaming sites that the person is dead so they won’t continue billing the credit card.

You may want to wait on shutting down the individual’s email accounts, due to how many important notices some people receive via email. Collecting the mail for three months looking for account statements to find out where someone has an account doesn’t cut it if someone receives most or all account statements online or via email. However, it may be beneficial to set up the equivalent to an “out of office” message to let those sending messages to learn that the person is deceased.

LifeHacker recommends freezing the credit reports of anyone who has died. Do this with all three credit reporting bureaus.