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Jeff Kessler


Jeff Kessler is a systems optimizer focused on the iterative analysis and optimization of systems. Despite his young age, Jeff holds two undergraduate degrees (Wharton and Penn Engineering from the selective M&T Program) and has years of unparalleled experience in the transportation industry (having worked for Amtrak, SEPTA, MTA New York City Transit, and WMATA / DC Metro in addition to having launched his own transit information platform called The Transit Navigator).

Currently, Jeff is pursuing two graduate degrees from the University of Pennsylvania: an M.S.E. Systems Engineering from Penn Engineering and a Policy and Technology M.L. from Penn Law. Through his technical, legal, behavioral, and business backgrounds, Jeff strives to develop systems that are functionally optimized and maximize stakeholder goals.


Systems Engineering

Nothing we encounter functions in isolation; rather, everything is a set of components with complex interdependencies. Systems engineering utilizes engineering methodologies, optimization techniques, and sensitivity analyses to improve these systems.

Behavioral Economics

Why do optimized systems often fail? They regularly make incorrect assumptions about human behavior and rationality. Behavioral Economics provides a toolkit for analyzing decisions, optimizing systems, and developing creative solutions in light of known behavioral biases and decision processing.

Business & Finances

Virtually every system we encounter is governed by money and finances. Acting as the life-blood behind many systems, quite simply, solid financial understanding is critical to robust decision-making.

Policy & Law

Sometimes the most critically-overlooked component of decision making is that of policy and legal implications. Knowing how to design and build systems within a complex regulatory environment along with an understanding of effective policy crafting is required for modern success.

Graduate & Undergraduate Education

Undergrad — Jerome Fisher Program in Management & Technology

Concurrently pursued degrees from Wharton and Penn Engineering in UPenn’s oldest coordinated dual degree program.

Positions: M&T Program Student Board, Penn Transit Advisory Board, Robotics Program Teaching Assistant

Class of 2016

Masters — University of Pennsylvania

First student to pursue an interdisciplinary program in Engineering and Law / Technology Policy.

Positions: Penn Transit Advisory Board, Electrical & Systems Engineering Senior Design Teaching Assistant

Class of 2017

The Wharton School

Bachelor of Science in Economics, 2016

Concentration in Behavioral Economics

Penn Engineering

Bachelor of Science in Engineering, 2016

Major in Systems Science & Engineering

Penn Law

Master in Law, 2017

Policy & Technology Track

Penn Engineering

Master of Science in Engineering, 2017

Major in Systems Engineering


SEPTA Youth Advisory Council

Appointed March 2013; Re-Elected Executive Chairperson Annually since August 2013


Digital Customer Experience Initiatives, Summer 2016

Delaware River Port Authority

Citizens Advisory Committee Member, Appointed December 2014

MTA New York City Transit

System Data & Research (SDR), Summer 2015


Customer Development & Improvement Special Projects, Summer 2014

The Transit Navigator

Founded 2012


Engineering Department, September 2010 – May 2011

Experience Across the Corridor

Click map pins for more details; click company logos to visit websites.

SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority)

✔ Functioned as an internal consultant identifying and evaluating potential customer service initiatives.
✔ Authored report and developed LINDO optimization model proposing 35 initiatives designed through field work, observation, market research, social media, historical records, and external agency collaboration.
✔ Oversaw multiple focus groups, analyzed results, and evaluated surveys to assess initiative performance.
✔ Administered and hosted more than 15 SEPTA Customer Connection events at various area destinations.


✔ 4th Term Chairing Organization Charged with Representing Interests of Youth in the Greater Philadelphia Region
✔ Analyze $1.36B Operating Budget, $534.5M Capital Budget, $6.8B Capital Program, and Annual Service Plan
✔ Formulate Reports on Operational Improvements and Present Findings to Board of Directors and Executive Staff
✔ Responsible for bringing a “U-Pass” Discounted Student Fare Program to students in the Greater Philadelphia Region

MTA New York City Transit

✔ Formed and directed “ORCA Select” team as Project Manager to establish platform for improving Operations Research Computation Analysis (ORCA) tool’s ease-of-use and agency adoption.
✔ Assembled Plus/Delta evaluation through field surveys and 7 self-conducted interdepartmental focus groups
✔ Restructured training model, leading to a unitary increase in both training and platform satisfaction

WMATA (Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority)

✔ Automated Daily Service Reports (freeing 3.25 wks/yr), coded tool to restore archive of 26k photos, built ridership metric tool
✔ Created WiFi Portal, built App Gallery, helped transition Metro to new website, led two developer events
✔ Analyzed and proposed improvements to rail/bus operating centers, next train prediction algorithms, incident monitoring/response, service disruption operational regularity, and customer experience/communication


✔ Advised CETC (Train Management) Quality Control Team, Dispatch, and assisted in NE Corridor Routing.
✔ Supported designing of track structures and curve layouts; tracked Acela train on-time-performance.

Delaware River Port Authority

✔ Review Board Financials to ensure DRPA operations serve the best interests of PATCO riders
✔ Youngest member by more than 10 years; Appointment Overseen by Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor Jim Cawley

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Additional Information & Endeavors


Electrical & Systems Engineering Senior Design

TA, Penn Engineering, University of Pennsylvania

Robotics in The Classroom

TA, Teachers Institute of Philadelphia

Previous Education

Science Leadership Academy, Class of 2012


Long Island School for the Gifted, Class of 2008


Specialization Education

Rail Transportation Program

Michigan Technological University

Dolan DNA Learning Center

DNA Restriction Analysis

Volunteer Organizations

Fantastic Friends Social Group

Web Integration Director | Volunteer Staff Member

Penn For Youth Debate

Volunteer | Tournament Director | Website Manager | Executive Board Member

M&T Student Board

Webmaster | Communications Chair

Technical Skills

Excel (w/ Optimization Tools)

Extensive Knowledge


Working Knowledge


Working Knowledge


Working Knowledge

Project Management

Trained in Best Practice Project Management

Cognitive Task Analysis / Human Factors

Trained in Best Practice Project Management


Extensive Knowledge; 9+ Successful Deployments

Speaking Engagements

Conference Organization

EduCon Conference

Chief Process Engineer | Alumni Consultant

The Franklin Institute

Galileo Conference | Workshop Design

Philly Tech Week

“School 2.0“ Co-Chair, 2011

Philadelphia Science Festival

Organizer & Exhibit Leader, 2011


American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Jack R. Gilstrap Scholarship, 2016

North America’s Highest Award in Public Transportation

Norman Gross Award, 2016

for Excellence in Systems Design

Richard K. Dentel Award

for Excellence in Urban Transportation

Davidson Institute for Talent Development

Davidson Young Scholar

American Mensa

Mensa Member

Johns Hopkins CTY

Visual-Spatial Ability National High Honors Award

9-Time Science Fair Award Winner

  • 1st Award (5.0/5.0), Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science – State Competition, 2012
  • Orelin Award for Outstanding High School Science Student, 2012
  • 1st Award (4.9/5.0), Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science – Regional Competition, 2012
  • 3rd Place, Education.com National Virtual Science Fair, 2011
  • US Air Force Science and Engineering Achievement Award, 2011
  • 1st Award, Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science – State Competition, 2011
  • 1st Award, Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science – Regional Competition, 2011
  • 1st Place, George Washington Carver Science Fair, 2010
  • 1st Award, Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science – State Competition, 2010