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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.
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.
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
Bachelor of Science in Engineering, 2016
Master in Law, 2017
Master of Science in Engineering, 2017
SEPTA Youth Advisory Council
Appointed March 2013; Re-Elected Executive Chairperson Annually since August 2013
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
Science Leadership Academy, Class of 2012
Long Island School for the Gifted, Class of 2008
Rail Transportation Program
Michigan Technological University
Dolan DNA Learning Center
DNA Restriction Analysis
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
Excel (w/ Optimization Tools)
Trained in Best Practice Project Management
Cognitive Task Analysis / Human Factors
Trained in Best Practice Project Management
Extensive Knowledge; 9+ Successful Deployments
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
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