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A better world through a systems approach

INCOSE Liberty Chapter Event - Tom Colacioppo, Dr. Alan Ravitz

  • Date:
    Nov 15, 2018 - 5:30 PM - 9:00 PM
  • Address: Metropolitan Transit Authority HQ
  • Location: New York, NY
Continuing with our mission to provide you with real world case example of system engineering being used in the workforce, the Liberty Chapter is pleased to present you with two speakers in the fields of Transportation and Healthcare respectively.
5:30pm - 6:00pm -- Meet-and-Greet (Food and drink will be provided.)
6:00pm - 6:15pm -- Introductions
6:15pm - 7:00pm -- Tom Colacioppo: A Systems Engineering Approach to Positive Train Control 
7:00pm - 7:15pm -- Break
7:15pm - 8:00pm -- Dr. Alan Ravitz : The Future of Healthcare through a Systems Approach 
Description of Topic
Tom Colacioppo
Director Systems Development and Testing - Positive Train Control at Long Island Rail Road 
A Systems Engineering Approach to Positive Train Control 
Tom will be giving a overview of Positive Train Control along with the SE approach that was used along with some lessons learned from the experience.
Dr. Alan Ravitz  
Professional Staff member at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), is the Chief Engineer for APL’s National Health Mission Area. 

The Future of Healthcare Through a Systems Approach 
Dr. Ravitz will be giving a more broader discussion on system engineering and healthcare, discussing how applying systems thinking and systems engineering to transform health and healthcare.  
Lastly, in the spirit of the upcoming presentations, here is a bit of information I found in the System Engineering Book of Knowledge (SEBoK). 
It's about health care but it caught my attention because it is equally applicable to Transportation Systems. Just substitute:
- "transportation" for "health care"  
- "operations" for "caregivers"
- "customers" for "patients"

Improving Ongoing Operations

As mentioned, above caregivers are faced with many challenges and the goal of in systems engineering in healthcare delivery is to lessen that burden in a systematic way without significant disruption of current operations. To do this successfully requires several factors:

  • First, as stated above, systems engineers have to acknowledge that they are dealing with a complex adaptive system that includes many wicked problems. An analogy is that what systems engineers experience in healthcare is like rewiring a house with the power turned on because whatever changes are made are to an existing system that must operate while the changes are being made.
  • Second, “the system” in place is difficult to define. The "healthcare system" is actually a combination of many open systems and interdependencies with the system of interest may be unknown.
  • Third, patient safety is always a concern and any actions that could affect patient safety must be very carefully considered. Often, "optimizing" a system may introduce a potential risk to patient safety. These system aspects are always in tension.
  • Fourth, there is a bias towards the current (known) system versus a change leading to an unknown system. Any change will create a certain amount of disruption to an operational system that may be currently operating at or beyond capacity.
  • Fifth, healthcare delivery systems are combinations of patients, providers, process, and products and therefore uncertainty is a daily reality. This level of uncertainty may not be amenable to typical agile approaches of 4-6 week sprints nor traditional waterfall methods.
  • Sixth, local factors could play a significant role; therefore no two sites may perform an operation in exactly the same way.
  • Seventh, the entire industry acts as a complex adaptive system with multiple intelligent agents working sometimes in partnership and sometimes in conflict with the goals of the system or patient.

Because of these factors and others the tradition of healthcare systems engineering has been to use adaptable human-centered methods. (Checkland 1999)


Adam Hulse, CSEP, CCM

President of Liberty Chapter, INCOSE


Tom Colacioppo
Director Systems Development and Testing - Positive Train Control at Long Island Rail Road
Tom Colacioppo has been a Systems Engineer for over 30 years of which the last 23 have been in the rail industry. Tom has been the lead Systems Engineer for such NYC Transit mega-project as the Automatic Train Supervision and the Public Address Customer Information Screens projects. These rank as some of the largest rail projects worldwide. Along with Long Island Rail Road Positive Train Control (PTC) these projects top $1B.

Tom currently works for the Long Island Rail Road as the PTC Director of System Development and Test. He is responsible for overseeing the overall system and software development, integration and test. He chairs the Systems, Safety, Test, Security, RAMs and System Assurance Working Groups. Tom holds a Master’s degree in Management Engineering and a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering Technology. Tom is also a certified INCOSE Expert Systems Engineering Professional and Certified Construction Manager from the Construction Management Certification Institute.

Dr. Alan Ravitz  
Professional Staff member at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), is the Chief Engineer for APL’s National Health Mission Area. 
Dr. Ravitz oversees technical aspects of a range of projects spanning biomedical and healthcare topics including neural prosthetics, precision medicine, systems biology, biomaterials, health surveillance, neurological health and human performance, patient safety, precision medicine, and systems engineering. Prior to involvement in these areas, he supported APL’s undersea warfare programs by developing signal and information processing technology for aircraft, surface ship, and submarine sonar and combat systems.

Dr. Ravitz is a Certified Systems Engineering Professional (CSEP) by The International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) and a licensed Professional Engineer (Maryland). He is also the Acting Program Chair for the Healthcare Systems Engineering Master’s degree program within the JHU Whiting School of Engineering (Engineering for Professionals Program). Dr. Ravitz has degrees in Biomedical Engineering (BS), Electrical Engineering (MS), Technical Management (MS), and Systems Engineering (PhD).