Ponder these statements:
- Managing complexity is one of the great challenges of our time.
- One of the fundamental tenets of systems engineering is that optimizing the components will not optimize the system.
- We as a society have a bias toward practicality.
- The goal of language is to give voice to the meaning that we assign to the thoughts, experiences, and observations we experience throughout our lives.
- When you bring in structure, you see things more clearly.
Each of the above statements comes from content that Vitech produced in 2017. They are from, respectively, a video, a blog post, a webinar, a white paper, and a short success story.
If you missed any of the above, let me take you on a quick tour.
Video: Managing Complexity
What do you gain by taking the systems engineering approach? Stop and think about that for a minute. As a systems engineer, you may know the answer, but how do you explain it to other people? We know it’s helpful to have an elevator pitch handy to quickly convey what it is you do, and why you love it so much. Our 2½-minute video explains why we believe systems engineering is now more important than ever, and shows why we’re confident in the value of our solution.
Blog: The Need to Sub-Optimize Systems Engineering
In order to optimize systems engineering, we need to sub-optimize it? This sounds like a zen koan. But one of the fundamental tenets of the discipline, according to Vitech President David Long, is that optimizing the components will not optimize the system. Long examined this concept in a blog post. “Rather than seeking to optimize systems engineering in the generic,” he said, “we should optimize it within the specific context of our project – the problem we are trying to solve, the project team at hand, organizational knowledge and constraints. Optimizing systems engineering in context – better known as tailoring – may sub-optimize systems engineering on the larger scale, but optimize the greater problem analysis and solution development process within the context of the specific project. This is the path to success.”
Here are some additional blog posts we recommend:
- How I Explain to My Relatives What I Do as a Systems Engineer
- Breaking Systems Engineering (and Three Ways to Bind the Fractures)
- The Three Systems
- Objective Quality Evidence – A Foundational Element of MBSE,
- Variety – The Spice of Life but a Staple of Good Communication,
- A Systems Engineer at the Dawn of the Age of Systems Engineering,
Webinar: Educating Engineers or Training Technicians?
“We as a society have a bias toward practicality,” asserted Zane Scott, Vice President of Professional Services at Vitech, in a webinar he presented in April. 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 are discussing. 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. This seems practical and focused at first blush, but it disguises an underlying learning/teaching problem. When we learn a discipline from the perspective of narrow, specific applications, we seriously limit the possibilities for using our knowledge. In this webinar, Scott explored the problem and its limitations and proposed a perspective for breaking out of the paradigm.
Here are some additional webinars that we think are worth checking out:
- The Systems Challenges of Cyber-Security
- Failure Modes Effects Analysis in Model-Based System Engineering
- Collaborative MBSE
- From Concept to Design: Making MBSE Real-Time
- Fundamentals of Architecting
White Paper: One Model, Many Interests, Many Views
Has the rise of model-based systems engineering increased confusion and conflict regarding models and representations? As a systems engineer, you understand the value of having multiple views of a model. In a new white paper, Zane Scott and David Long added refinement and nuance to this knowledge. The foundational purpose of a multiplicity of views, they maintain, is communication. Each view represents a specific, defined subset of the information that makes up a system model. When the views are drawn from a single model, we are ensured currency and consistency. The power of the views lies in their ability to communicate richly and effectively across a diverse community of project team members and stakeholders. Linking a rich palette of views with a tool powerful enough to maintain, track, and produce them offers one’s audience the ability to understand, design, and communicate tailored solutions to solve the problems of a global environment in need of systems engineering.
Short Success Story: Systems Engineering the Organization
Often times, the org chart doesn’t accurately reflect what really goes on at an organization. When Alejandro Salado, currently a professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech, worked at a German provider of small equipment, he suggested the company use CORE to discover what the actual lines of communication were and how they could improve them. Management was not disappointed. A short success story tells how it all played out.
Here are a few more:
- Helping Humans Survive in Space
- Streamlining Flood Insurance in the Face of an Immovable Deadline
- Systems Engineering a New Vehicle in Warp Time
- Designing Livable Cities of the Future
- Pinpointing Accuracy on a Spot on the Open Ocean
These were some of the things that turned our heads this past year or made us think in a new way about systems engineering. What were some of yours?