Friday, October 2, 2009

Three from ESD win Best Journal Paper Award - SDM Pulse, Fall 2009

Three members of MIT’s Engineering Systems Division (ESD)—the administrative home of the System Design and Management Program—recently received the 2008 Best Journal Paper Award from the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE).
ESD research scientist Adam Ross (in striped shirt), joins co-author
Senior Lecturer Donna Rhodes and INCOSE President Pat Hale (who
also heads the SDM Fellows Program) in Singapore after receiving
the 2008 Best Journal Paper Award from the International Council on
Systems Engineering (INCOSE). Their co-author, Professor Daniel Hastings,
was unable to attend the symposium.

ESD research scientist Adam Ross, along with coauthors Senior Lecturer Donna Rhodes and Professor Daniel Hastings, were honored for "Defining Changeability: Reconciling Flexibility, Adaptability, Scalability, Modifiability, and Robustness for Maintaining Lifecycle Value."

The award was presented at the 19th annual International Symposium of INCOSE on June 13, 2009, in Singapore. The paper appeared in the fall 2008 issue of INCOSE’s scientific journal, Systems Engineering, which disseminates scholarship to practitioners and academics in the field of systems engineering.

The winning paper, which is an extension of Ross’s doctoral work, describes how designing and maintaining systems in a dynamic contemporary environment requires a rethinking of how systems provide value to stakeholders over time. Any ambiguity in the definition of “value” used in various system domains can derail the success of the system. And yet, decision-makers tend to change their minds over time, thus shifting their views about value.

Developing either changeable or classically robust systems are approaches to promoting value sustainment. But, ambiguity in definitions across system domains has resulted in an inability to specify, design, and verify to the qualities (what system thinkers often term “ilities”) that promote value sustainment. In order to develop domain-neutral constructs for improved system design, the definitions of flexibility, adaptability, scalability, modifiability, and robustness are shown to relate to the core concept of “changeability,” described by three aspects: change agents, change effects, and change mechanisms.

Since change is inevitable, a truly “value-robust” system must be one that can continue to provide value to stakeholders over time, in spite of changes in contexts, the authors assert.

Several SDM students have been involved in research related to this topic, which is ongoing within the MIT Systems Engineering Advancement Research Initiative.

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