Vivek Sakhrani

77 Massachusetts Avenue
MIT building E40-252
Cambridge MA 02139 USA

sakhrani 'at' mit 'dot' edu


I am a PhD candidate and researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MiT), in the Engineering Systems Division (ESD). The department is quite unique; it encourages scholars to adopt more than one intellectual lens or method to address a complex socio-technical issue. We are a community of scientists and engineers who draw on management science, economics, and social science to influence the behavior of complex socio-technical systems.

In my research, I am developing an idea that I call “Dual-Domain Design” – the interplay between technical systems design and organizational arrangements required in delivering large engineering projects such as infrastructure megaprojects. My dissertation work focuses on the relationship between technical design and contractual design to shape multi-dimensional value trade-offs. The work involves statistical analysis of large project datasets, modeling and simulation to generate value tradespaces, and tradespace exploration to select project design concepts.

At MiT, the "lab" that I am associated with is the KACST-MIT Center for Complex Engineering Systems (CCES), a joint research center with KACST in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Under the umbrella of the Strategic Sustainable Desalination Network (SSDN), I am developing an integrated architectural investment model for large desalination projects. As one of the lead modelers on the Sustainable Infrastructure Planning System (SIPS), I co-developed a model that integrated uncertainty and system dynamics to support decision-making for stakeholders in the Saudi water system.

Prior to CCES, I contributed to a number of different research efforts at MIT including the Singapore University of Technology & Design (SUTD), the MIT Energy Initiative (MITei), and the MIT Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research (CEEPR). I was the lead researcher and author on two chapters of MITei’s Future of the Electric Grid study. I also conducted a four-country study on Electricity Network Tariff Design for MIT CEEPR, and co-developed (with Donald Lessard and Roger Miller) the “House of Project Complexity” framework for understanding complexity in large infrastructure projects. My master's thesis in Technology and Policy investigated investment decision-making and long-term contracts in new power generation investments.

I have previously consulted for the World Bank on infrastructure system design issues in both the power and water sector in Kenya and Afghanistan. My prior work has also informed power plant design improvements at the Lower Colorado River Authority in central Texas, water system expansion for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and energy regulatory design for the Department of Energy Resources in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

At MiT, I am a Tata Fellow for Technology + Design and participate in the activities of the Tata Center, which supports my work on flexibility in infrastructure public-private partnerships in India. I was a Martin Family Fellow for Sustainability (2011–2012) and an MIT Global Fellow (2012). I served as a graduate student representative on the Corporation Joint Advisory Committee (2010–2012), a small advisory group that works directly with the MIT Corporation (the Board of Trustees). I was also Co-President of the Engineering Systems Student Society (2012-2013).