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A better world through a systems approach

INCOSE-LA- Spkr Meeting Complex Systems Synthesis

  • Date:
    May 9, 2017 - 05:30 PM - 07:30 PM
  • Venue:
    The Aerospace Corporation

What:   INCOSE-LA Speaker Meeting

Topic:   Mr. Madhu Thangavelu will provide a presentation on " Complex Systems Synthesis.”

When: Tuesday, May 09, 2017 5:30-7:30pm

HOST VENUE:  The Aerospace Corporation, Building D8/1010, 200 N. Aviation, El Segundo, CA


COST: Members: FREE. Non-members: $10 (refreshments provided) 

5:15-5:30 Sign-in/Registration
5:30-6:00 Networking/Refreshments
6:10-6:20 Introduction
6:20-6:30 WG Presentation
6:30-7:30 Guest Speaker Presentation


Among the diverse functions of the system architect and systems engineer, a primary duty that often lands in their domain is about complex project synthesis; creating and articulating new concepts to fulfill or adapt to new needs, transform existing architectures to respond to new context, and also inserting new technologies into the existing infrastructures. Synthesis methods and tools are especially helpful during the formative stages of project formulation. Offering alternative options at this early stage allows the planner to pick and choose the best architecture(s) to proceed with, to analyze and do trades on, all before engaging state-of-the-art system engineering tools and capabilities. In a dynamic environment with many variables, some obvious and others hidden, several key parameters and synergies of complex systems lie outside the orthodox professional domain or influence of the system designer, and transient windows of opportunity appear(and vanish!) to create useful systems. To define, create and execute projects in a timely manner, it is important to cultivate contextual sense, draw connections, detect, appreciate and refine system sensitivities while framing potential solutions to various needs in a rapid manner. The ASTE 527 Space Concept Synthesis Studio is a graduate course offered by the Department of Astronautical Engineering within the Viterbi School of Engineering at USC that employs methods adopted from the civil architectural education and practice for system design and engineering. This talk will outline some of the processes employed in rapid ideation, and some tools used to quickly sketch and present complex system concepts. We will look at some examples of concept architectures created in the studio.


Madhu Thangavelu conducts the ASTE 527 graduate Space Exploration Architectures Concept Synthesis Studio in the Department of Astronautical Engineering within the Viterbi School of Engineering at the University of Southern California. He also teaches the Arch599 Extreme Environment Habitation Design Seminar in the School of Architecture, where he is a graduate thesis adviser. .Mr.Thangavelu’s educational background is in Architecture(Masters in Building Science, USC School of Architecture 1989) and in Engineering(Bachelors in Science and Engineering, National Institute of Technology, Calicut, India, 1980). He is also a graduate of the inaugural summer session of the International Space University held at MIT in 1988. Versions of Madhu's master’s thesis (conceived during ISU '88 at MIT) entitled "MALEO: Modular Assembly in Low Earth Orbit. An Alternate Strategy for Lunar Base Establishment" were published in several journals worldwide. At USC, he was mentored by and worked as a research assistant and research associate under Dr.Eberhardt Rechtin, professor of Electrical, Systems and Aerospace Engineering,(while he was creating the Systems Architecting Engineering program at USC), considered the chief architect of NASA’s Deep Space Network and President Emeritus of Aerospace Corp. Since 1992, he is a creative consultant to the aerospace industry in this newly evolving field of space architectures complex concept synthesis. Mr.Thangavelu’s concepts have been reviewed and appreciated by NASA, the National Research Council, the National Space Council(Bush Sr.Administration), and his work has been presented before the National Academy of Sciences. He continues to present and publish original concepts in Space System Architectures and chairs related sessions at conferences. He is a co-author of the book "The Moon: Resources, Future Development and Colonization", John Wiley &Sons 1999, and the second Springer/Praxis edition was published in 2007. He is a former Vice Chairman for Education, Los Angeles Section of the American Institute Of Aeronautics and Astronautics(AIAA). He has directed Space Exploration Projects at the California Institute of Earth Art and Architecture. Mr. Thangavelu is also the invited author of the chapter “Living On the Moon” in the Encyclopedia of Aerospace Engineering, a major reference work published by John Wiley and Sons in October 2010, updated in 2012. He was on the team that won the coveted NASA NIAC Phase 1 and 2 awards consecutively for developing robotic building technologies on the Moon and Mars with PI Prof.Behrokh Khoshnevis. Mr. Thangavelu’s concept creation work was greatly appreciated for proposing ideas that pointed to the “leading-edge sensor concept” for return to flight of the space shuttle fleet. Mr.Thangavelu is on the faculty of the International Space University, an international organization that offers advanced interdisciplinary, intercultural and international training for promising leaders and space professionals.