Ingeborg Rocker *10, ARC

Senior Executive, Dassault Systemes, Owner (GAIN-X)

I am a senior executive with experience in developing corporate strategies, business visions as well as driving sustainable product innovation, and business transformations. At Dassault Systèmes, a leading global software provider of virtual 3D environments, my roles included Vice President of 3DEXPERIENCity; VP Digital Transformation & Strategy; and most recently VP Industry Innovation. In my current work I leverage the analytic and design thinking that I inquired during my academic training and work.

Prior to arriving to the US with a stipend from the German Government (DAAD), I received a Diploma in Engineering from the Technical University in Aachen (RWTH AACHEN). In the US, I studied at Columbia University and received a Master of Sciences (MSAAD). Subsequently I worked as lead architect for the internationally recognized architect Peter Eisenman (New York City). Centrally positioned within the international discourse of architecture the office's projects ranged from sport stadiums to cultural centers and monuments. One of the most memorable project I was responsible for as lead design architect is the Monument for the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin; a project through which I had the opportunity  to meet leading engineers, artists and architects also  with the governing politicians of Germany (Chancellor Kohl, among others).

At Columbia University and in Peter Eisenman’s office the digital medium was at the core of our architectural production – however it was yet little conceptualized and those that did, did not contextualize it well neither within the design and praxis of architecture nor of industrial design & engineering. Urged to change this and to lay the intellectual foundation of my work as engineer and architect, a MA (*03) and PhD at Princeton (*10) allowed me to explore in all depth the role of computation and computational paradigms in the Marshal Plan funded design, engineering & applied science developments in PostWorldWar2 Germany.

In 2005, before finishing my PhD in Princeton, I began to work at Harvard University, first as Assistant and then as Associated Professor with a strong focus on the implications of computation on and the implementation of computation in the education and work of industrial product designers, architects and urban planners. It became quickly apparent that existing tools were limited for a holistic approach to analysis, planning, designing, manufacturing, building, and operating products, facilities and in particular the urban realm. Consequently, I decided in 2014 – instead of leading the Graduate School of Architecture Cornell with the ambition to become eventually a dean – to leave academia and to join the Software industry (Dassault Systemes) to actively foster the creation of software solutions that aim to enable a circular and sustainable economy. A complicated decision, that however allowed me to gain insights in the business world, opened new opportunities and helped shaping – just as I had imagined – some of the software solutions offered in the market.

Today, in reflection of my path, I am interested in bringing together governmental, academic, and industrial organizations, since I strongly believe that only together, we can arrive at a truly circular and thus more sustainable economy. It will take different stake holders and their respective talents to inform a new economic model and associated values. Within this vein of thinking I would like to re-join academia to kick-start some innovation alliances across the different stakeholder eco-systems. IF, We can jointly put a positive “dent into the universe” – as Steve Jobs had put it once.

"I am connected to the GradFUTURES as a mentor, and a promotor for cross domain knowledge & know-how transfers. Within this context it has been a great pleasure to connect with the GradFUTURES team, including James M. Van Wyck, Assistant Dean for Professional Development, to discuss how Industry, Government and Academia can find synergies to foster jointly innovation for a more Circular Economy, which is socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable."

What advice do you have for current graduate students?

“Goals and a steady work towards these are in my view key criteria to success. The path may not be linear - but with persistence and an agile mind set - one can - despite many obstacles on the road - reach one's goals.  A master’s degree and in particular a Ph.D. from Princeton are on one hand great personal accomplishments, and on the other hand a unique opportunity to become an expert in the field of study, and the associated methodologies of research. Direct applicability of this research may vary greatly, depending on the field of study and the subject matter choice, however I recommend to pick a research topic that is also applicable to address and solve problems ready at hand, and one which can find audiences within and outside of academia. Inside academia, look to connect starting with your academic peers; outside academia, look to governmental institutions, nonprofits, and the business world. The biggest satisfaction that I have experienced was when my work and research had a clear purpose and became an effectual contribution to society.

This pragmatic approach, common at the technical universities of Europe, is characterized by a close collaboration of the universities with industry, in which the research questions are positioned and paid by the industry. A model that benefits from the direct application of research but may also limit research to those fields that receive funding. Innovation often is ahead of the demand; it may even create a new demand based on new insights, new technologies and new methodologies. This is how we can make a dent in the universe and help creating a more sustainable and circular new form of economy.”

I have participated in the following GradFUTURES Programs: GradFUTURES Mentorship Program

Yes, I am open to being contacted by a Princeton Graduate Student for an informational interview!

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