By David Long, Vitech President
“The biggest errors are made on day one.” Sadly, those involved in systems engineering live this every day, but not necessarily in the manner we think. Though we strive to avoid this pitfall and address it in the systems we develop, the very way we approach our practice is often flawed. We break systems engineering from day one by our flawed practices, many times not even recognizing that we have done so.
In talks and tutorials, I frequently ask how many in the audience are applying a waterfall process. The general response is a hand or two timidly raised with the rest of the audience proudly asserting that they execute a spiral, incremental, or agile process – anything but waterfall. I then ask an individual “If I wanted to know about your requirements, who would I talk to?” More...
Zane Scott, Vitech Vice President of Professional Services
Those of us engaged in instruction, be it live or web-based, are often asked to provide “practical examples” of the principles and techniques we discuss. There is an intense desire to focus on application and avoid theory or concepts. The examples requested are deemed “practical” to the extent that they resemble the requester’s practice area. Rail system designers seek examples of rail systems. Missile designers want missile systems as examples. This seems practical and focused at first blush, but it disguises an underlying learning/teaching problem.
The problem is rooted in a struggle to establish a body of knowledge and the corresponding theoretical foundations of a systems engineering discipline. The history of the practice of systems engineering makes this struggle all the more difficult. Systems engineering arose in response to the need in the military/aerospace (mil/aero) sector for dealing with increasingly more complex problems and solutions in a rigorous and disciplined way. As the problem set began to demand solutions that crossed disciplinary boundaries, the need for an organized, comprehensive approach to designing and managing these solutions increased dramatically. Nowhere was this more apparent than in the arms and space races of the Cold War era. More...