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Marco Di Maio on SWISSED21

By Marco Di Maio, 27/10/2021

We spoke with Marco Di Maio, expert on Systems Engineering, and one of SE-Training's course presenters on his experience at SWISSED21. Here’s what he had to say...


Q: How was your experience of SWISSED21?

Marco: I always enjoyed SWISSED and this year was no different. Personally, I feel it is this best SE conference in terms of it relaxed, open-minded and fun atmosphere. It is also great platform for networking and encourages connections by providing ample time and space to have conversations with those in the SE community. And of course, the venue is lovely with views over Lake Zurich.


Q: How did you find this year’s SWISSED in comparison to last year?

Marco: Last year had a very different feel due to Covid. People were very aware of each other and keeping their distance. This year, with the 3G rule in effect, we knew people were attending safely so Covid was not a main concern. It felt almost normal. Everyone was more comfortable and relaxed.


Q: The conference was held once again as a hybrid event. Is this the way forward now for SWISSED?

Marco: I believe holding it in a hybrid form allows much more accessibility. I had students attend virtually for the day who would otherwise not have been able to attend in person due to financial or time restrictions. As the conference is only one day, having the option to attend virtually allows for a larger and more internationally diverse audience.


Q: You co-presented two talks and a workshop on the day. Can you tell us about the preparation involved.

Marco: With both talks we began preparing in plenty of time as these were new topics for us to present, so we needed to research and write new material. ‘Tackling Climate Change - a Systems Engineering Perspective’ with Tim Weilkiens was started in late April as this also included a workshop, and for ‘Teaching Systems Engineering to Undergraduates – a complex issue?’ with Colin Hood we began in early May.

All three of us prefer giving lively presentations from which the audience can take away something. A particular challenge was therefore, the workshop, as we only had 20 minutes to get them engaged, whilst getting results that were concise enough to use for discussion. However, climate change is a good topic to work with for an audience of Systems Engineers, people who naturally enjoy complex problems, so already their interest was spiked.


Q: In your presentation with Colin Hood, he appeared virtually – can you tell us how that worked.

Marco: I have worked with Colin many times on presentations so we have a solid rapport which definitely helped in a situation where one speaker is not physically present! As I said we made plenty of time to prepare and consider the delivery. We knew we could not deliver this as a ‘double-act’ so we divided it up to reduce the risk of interference and interruptions. Colin did the introduction and then I took over for the main body of the presentation. Afterwards, we did the Q&A together.


Q: What made you choose ‘Teaching Systems Engineering to Undergraduates – a complex issue?’ as a topic to present with Colin?

We felt proud of how we have encouraged young and open minds to become avid SE enthusiasts in our careers and we wanted to share our experiences with the audience.


Q: How did you find having a virtual as well as physical audience?

Marco: It worked well. The virtual audience were able to send their questions in the chat. If it became an interesting discussion point, we would unmute them, which weirdly brought in quite an interesting and lively level of interaction.


Q: What were your favourite presentations on the day?

Marco: I particularly enjoyed Martin Hoppe’s presentation ‘We are too small for (MB)SE!?’. Although this is a topic that’s often discussed, his example of introducing MBSE to a giant project compared with a tiny project was really easy to follow. As it was based on Martin’s own practical experience so he was able to share numbers and details which made for an interesting and well-rounded talk.

I also appreciated the talks that included discussions related to tackling climate change with SE as these themes were ones which ran parallel to my presentation with Tim, and this is a topic I am passionate about.


Q: Will we see you at SWISSED22?

Marco: I have attended four SWISSED conferences so far and enjoyed them a great deal. So yes, I shall be attending!


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