By Lois Slavin, MIT SDM communications director
SDM and MIT’s Engineering Systems Division (ESD) played a prominent role in the annual international symposium sponsored by the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) that was held June 15-20, 2008, in Utrecht, Netherlands. The conference theme was “Systems Engineering for the Planet.”
Scholars from ESD’s Systems Engineering Advancement Research Initiative (SEAri) won the two INCOSE best paper awards at the conference:
• ESD research scientist Adam Ross and ESD senior lecturer in engineering systems and principal research scientist Donna Rhodes were honored for “Using Natural Value-centric Time Scales for Conceptualizing Systems Timelines through Epoch-Era Analysis.”
• ESD PhD candidate Matthew Richards, ESD Professor Daniel Hastings, Ross, and Rhodes won for “Two Empirical Tests of Design Principles for Survivable System Architecture.”
In addition, SDM and ESD PhD alumnus Rudolf Smaling and Associate Professor Olivier de Weck were honored with the best journal paper award for 2007 by Systems Engineering for “Assessing Risks and Opportunities of Technology Infusion in System Design.”
Sharing best practices
Several representatives from ESD and SDM played major roles in the conference. Pat Hale, director of the SDM Fellows Program and president of INCOSE, noted that participation in INCOSE is extremely beneficial for SDM and ESD. “Many of us are active in running workshops and making presentations, which helps forge strong alliances to help evolve and advance the fields of engineering systems and systems engineering,” he said. “SDM is also making use of many of the conference materials in its systems engineering classes, to infuse them with the most forward-thinking best practices.”
ESD’s participation included conducting a day-long workshop on engineering systems for members of the Council of Engineering Systems Universities, conducted by ESD Professor Daniel Roos and Rhodes. According to Rhodes, who is a past president of INCOSE, the event was designed to give attendees a larger perspective on current engineering systems research, while also enabling them to share interests and broaden their networks. More than 60 people attended.
ESD faculty and students also made several presentations, including:
• “Collaborative Systems Thinking Research: Exploring Systems Thinking within Teams” by MIT student Caroline Lamb and Rhodes
• “Measuring Systems Engineering Success: Insights from Baseball,” by MIT student Craig Blackburn along with MIT research associate and INCOSE treasurer Ricardo Valerdi
• “Safety-Driven SE Methodology” by Nicolas Dulac MIT PhD ’07, Professor Nancy Leveson, and others
• “Strategic SE—Changeability and Commonality” by de Weck
Valerdi also participated in team presentations on “COSYSMO Reuse Extension and Proposed Modification to COSYSMO Estimating Relationship” (COSYSMO stands for Constructive Systems Engineering Cost Model).
Throughout the symposium, ESD and SDM staged an exhibit at which ESD students showcased their research and ESD and SDM literature was distributed.
“Topics covered in this year’s conference were broad, ranging across many different domains and approaching the same scope in which ESD is interested,” Rhodes said. “Next year’s event will be held in Singapore, and ESD and SDM are definitely planning to be there again.”
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