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Program meetings typically 2nd Tuesday of month
Time: 6:00-7:00 CST
Food & networking at 5:30

Physical Locations

*Bell Helicopter
*L-3- Arlington
*L-3- Greenville
*Lockheed Martin Aero- Fort Worth
*Lockheed Martin MFC- Grand Prairie
*Raytheon- McKinney
*Abbott


Check out presentations from previous North Texas INCOSE Chapter Meetings!

Presentations can be found here

Board meetings typically 1st Tuesday of month
Time: 5:30-6:00 CST



Chapter Event Calendar

Remote Program Access
 
Teams (Video/Audio) - Click here to join the meeting. 
Contact INCOSE North Texas Chapter  ntxinfo @ incose dot net to be added to our meeting emails.
The meetings are not recorded. Presentation are posted in the library and resources during the following weekend if we receive the presentation.


Upcoming Chapter Events

Chapter Meeting April 13

Digital Engineering (DE): The Next Chapter of MBSE by Paul White

Remote Program Access: Teams (Video/Audio)
Join on your computer or mobile app

Abstract:  

What is digital engineering (DE)? How does DE relate to MBSE? In this presentation, we will show how DE is the next chapter of MBSE. We will talk about the Office of the Secretary Defense’s (OSD) Digital Engineering Strategy, released in June 2018. We will discuss the goals of the DES and how you can implement DE in your current and future systems engineering efforts. This presentation is for those who would like an introduction to DE.  


Bio

Paul White is the ICBM GBSD Digital Engineering Branch Lead for BAE Systems at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. He has worked previously at Kihomac, Astronautics Corporation of America, L-3 Harris, and Raytheon. He has 20 years of experience in the aerospace industry.

Paul has been an INCOSE member since 2007 serving in various top leadership roles in the North Texas (Dallas - Fort Worth) Chapter, Chicagoland Chapter, and Wasatch (Utah) Chapter.  He is the current president of the Wasatch Chapter.  Paul has been a leader in the annual Great Lakes Regional Conference (GLRC) since 2012 including conference chair for the 6th and 8th conferences.  He served as the conference chair for the first annual Western States Regional Conference (WSRC) in Ogden in 2018; and he serves on the WSRC Steering Committee for 2019 and beyond. He was awarded the INCOSE Outstanding Service Award in 2019. He serves as the Deputy Assistant Director of Technical Events in INCOSE's Technical Operations organization.

He has a graduate certificate in Systems Engineering and Architecting from the Stevens Institute of Technology, a Master of Science degree in Computer Science from Texas A&M University-Commerce, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Texas A&M University.  He is a Certified Systems Engineering Professional (CSEP) through INCOSE. 

 


Chapter Meeting March 9

Using Architecture and MBSE to Develop Validated Requirements by Dr. Ron Carson

Remote Program Access: Teams (Video/Audio)
Join on your computer or mobile app

Abstract:  Requirements incompleteness and ambiguity continue to plaque many organizations.  The introduction of MBSE provides an opportunity to relate the structure of the architecture model to the structure of requirements, and synchronize the data between them.
In this presentation we demonstrate how to use model-based systems engineering and the related architecture to develop and validate requirements of all types. We first describe the structure of different types of requirements and map the requirements elements, e.g., function, to elements of the architecture in the MBSE model. We show how these requirements elements map to specific data elements in a particular MBSE tool for all possible types of requirements. Finally, we show how this method enables validation of the requirements from the architecture.
Attendees will gain an understanding of how to integrate their organizational requirements development and MBSE architecture activities by mapping the data elements between them and integrating these into their MBSE tools.  

Bio
:  Dr. Ron Carson is an Adjunct Professor of Engineering at Seattle Pacific University, an Affiliate Assistant Professor in Industrial and Systems Engineering at the University of Washington, a Fellow of the International Council on Systems Engineering and a certified Expert Systems Engineering Professional. 
He retired in 2015 as a Technical Fellow in Systems Engineering after 27 years at The Boeing Company. He is the author of numerous articles regarding requirements analysis and systems engineering measurement. He has been issued six US patents in satellite communications, and two patents regarding “Structured Requirements Generation and Assessment”.
 

 



Chapter Meeting February 9

Innovation and national security by Dr. Tina P. Srivastava
 

Remote Program Access: Teams (Video/Audio)
Join on your computer or mobile app

Abstract: Dr. Srivastava will discuss innovation and national security, focusing on two key challenges: participation and secrecy. The participation challenge is about providing adequate incentives to potential innovators, and we will discuss challenges to incentivizing participants and how to overcome them. We will discuss IP policies, innovation contests, and incentivizing employees within a company, so business leaders can learn how to incentivize their own employees, and also how they can open up the innovation process to enable broader diversity in innovation by applying open innovation strategies to overcome technology hurdles. The secrecy challenge is about technology innovation for national security where secrecy can be an obstacle. Dr. Srivastava is passionate about technology innovation and in particular, how we can harness it to further national security and competitiveness -- for example, targeted innovation to land an astronaut on the moon, or develop stealth machinery for cyber defense. But secrecy in classified environments sometimes makes it hard to recruit and innovate. We will discuss how to navigate various contracting and legal channels. We will also discuss government programs and policies related to technology innovation and government contracting.

Bio
:  Dr. Tina P. Srivastava has served on INCOSE’s Board of Directors and received the INCOSE Inaugural David Wright Leadership Award in 2014 for technical and interpersonal competencies in the practice of system engineering as a means for solving the great challenges of our planet. She is a lecturer at MIT in the areas of aerodynamics, aviation, complex systems, and technology road mapping and selection. She is also the author of Innovating in a Secret World, featured by MIT. Dr. Srivastava co-chairs the PM-SE Integration Working Group and is one of the authors and editors of the book Integrating Program Management and Systems Engineering. As an innovator, entrepreneur, and technology expert, Tina’s experience spans roles as Chief Engineer of electronic warfare programs at Raytheon to cofounder of a venture-backed security startup. She is an FAA-certified pilot and instructor of MIT’s Pilot Ground School course. Dr. Srivastava earned her PhD in Strategy, Innovation, and Engineering, a Masters in System Design and Management, and a Bachelors in Aeronautics and Astronautics, all from MIT.

 


Chapter Meeting January 12

North Texas 2021 by Justin C' de Baca

Location: Virtual (see chapter newsletter and top of this page for connection information)

Abstract: I will be using this meeting to cover a number of things for the 2021 year. Material will include:

  • Promotion of INCOSE IW2021
  • Impact of INCOSE 2020 report
  • INCOSE NTX's Road to Gold Status in 2021
  • Overview of TEAMS for members
We are hoping to get this year off to a great start, and this meeting will be a great place to discuss where we are heading and take any questions from our members.

Bio: Justin is our chapter president this year.

 



All Events

Enchantment Meeting Speaker: Brian Kennedy - Leveraging Set-Based Practices to Enable Efficient Concurrency in Large Systems and Systems-of-Systems Engineering

  • Date:
    Sep 08, 2021 - 4:45 PM - 6:00 PM
    MT
  • Location: Online, GlobalMeet
  • Venue:
    Online
  • Contact: Ann Hodges
  • Email: alhodge@sandia.gov
  • Phone: 505-951-7067
Abstract: 
Whether “just” a large Systems Engineering project with multiple subsystems or a true Systems-of Systems scenario, working out the optimal system-level trade-offs will typically involve significant engineering effort in each of the subsystems, which each have their own significant trade-offs to work out while concurrently feeding the knowledge required for the system level trade-offs. This presentation will discuss how Set-Based practices can enable the higher level system to proceed concurrently with its subsystems, coordinating their efforts, and allowing their decision-making to converge together. The presentation will introduce three key enablers of that coordination: Decision-Based Scheduling, Integrating Events, and Causal Mapping. Applied together, those Set-Based practices enable a fundamental paradigm shift in how the front end of Systems Engineering is done, resulting in tremendous acceleration of the learning and coordinated decision-making, with the potential to cut project times in half.

Bio: 

Brian is an author of the book Success Is Assured and is an INCOSE Certified Systems Engineering Professional (CSEP) who has spent more than 25 years designing complex software systems. He was Chief Architect of i2 Technologies’ Supply Chain Planner and Demand Fulfillment applications, applying Toyota lean manufacturing, Theory of Constraints, and advanced optimization to the planning and scheduling of the larger supply chain, helping to establish a new market space (Supply Chain Management) and generating billions of dollars of value for i2’s customers. Brian was named the first i2 Fellow and holds more than a dozen patents on the inventions that were the basis for those software systems. As co-founder and CTO of Targeted Convergence Corporation, Brian is responsible for the systems engineering of TCC’s Success Assured® software and the associated training, which are both designed for superior systems and mission engineering in the early conceptual stages of development.

  • Interview with Jeff Waits, CSEP

    by Courtney Wright | Sep 20, 2021

    SEP Interview 29 - Jeff Waits photoThe following questions are from an interview in 2014:

    Q1: Describe your current position/role.

    Jeff’s current role is to establish formal integration and test processes for an organization that has been stove piped and where not everyone is yet on-board with the new processes.

    Q2: What are one or two of your proudest professional accomplishments?

    One of Jeff’s most proud moments was when he worked in the Booz Allen Central Maryland office. He established common integration and test processes across all projects.  Jeff was able to successfully implement those integration and test processes through field site deployment.

    Q3: What is the biggest challenge you face as a Systems Engineer?

    One of the biggest challenges Jeff has seen is that managers want to do Systems Engineering and SE processes.  However, when they get down to work, they do not want to do any of them due to time.  Thus, selling them on the value of SE and SE processes is the biggest challenge.

    Q4: What advice do you have for individuals starting their career as a Systems Engineer?

    Jeff cautions new Systems Engineers about becoming frustrated and urges them to keep pushing through challenges including selling the value of SE.

    Q5: How do you continue to learn about SE? What professional development activities do you do?

    Jeff engages in several activities in order to continue learning about Systems Engineering.  Some of these activities include reading of SE books and blogs, attending SE brown bags (e.g., Booz Allen sponsors many of these), and attending SE training classes.

    Q6: What are the next career goals you want to achieve?

    Based on the role that Jeff just took, his goal is to get the processes he established to work across stove pipes in his new environment and to get people to think “one team, one mission.”

    Q7: What are some of your hobbies/interests outside of work?

    Jeff really enjoys baseball and follows it passionately.  He also enjoys travel.  His goal is to get to all 50 states and as many foreign countries as he can.  He has been to about 40 countries so far.

    Q8:  Are there any other final comments you would like to make?

    Jeff advises Systems Engineers to start studying early for the CSEP program and keep at it! Do not fool around.

    In 2021, we reached out to Mr. Waits to answer more questions:

    Q9: Why did you decide to get the SEP certification?

    There was a big push a Booz Allen to get people certified.   I pursued it to help advance my career, put the firm in a better position to win business because of the quality of system engineering we could offer and to improve myself by getting more familiar with aspects of system engineering where I had  little experience.

    Q10: How does the SEP certification impact your professional career?

    By learning about other aspects of system engineering that I did not do on a day-to-day basis, I was able to contribute in other areas as the opportunity presented itself.

    Q11: What has surprised you in the past five years related to systems engineering?

    It appears to be adapting slowly to other development methodologies.

    Q12: What job titles have you had other than “Systems Engineer?”

    Test Lead, Software Dev Mgr.

  • Interview with Antony Williams, ESEP

    by Courtney Wright | Sep 19, 2021

    SEP Interview - Antony Williams photoThe following questions are from an interview in 2014:

    Q1: Describe your current position/role.

    Tony currently holds two positions: Chief Engineer for SE&I and Project Manager (PM) for SAFER.  In his role as the Chief Engineer for SE&I, he is responsible for technical oversight, SE leadership, SE training, software life cycle reviews, and policy/procedures.  In his role as the PM for SAFER, Tony transitioned to an integrator.  He performs integration efforts for five NASA JSC Engineering Directorate divisions.  His responsibilities include integrating propulsion, mechanical design, avionics, power, software, CE, and pyrotechnics on an EVA system with a human safety mission.

    Q2: What are one or two of your proudest professional accomplishments?

    Tony is proud of being a former Commander for the Space Operations Squadron at Air Force Space Command, leading SE & PM for SAFER, and the successful delivery of Jet Pack and Space Flight Units.

    Q3: What is the biggest challenge you face as a Systems Engineer?

    Finding ways to articulate the value and the roles for SE in ways that are compelling to project and management teams is the greatest challenge that Tony faces. These teams often see SE as paperwork efforts that are a tax and do not contribute to system capability. Tony also notes that given stringent certification requirements for human spaceflight, confusion sometimes exists between certification driven efforts (e.g., requirements definition and verification to support certifications), and efforts to define requirements for the right performance and functional characteristics (e.g., the right set of verifications to truly address them). The result is a dynamic tension between testing and analysis needed for certification, and testing and analysis needed to prove that the system actually performs as desired.

    Q4: What advice do you have for individuals starting their career as a Systems Engineer?

    Tony advises that new Systems Engineers learn as much as possible about what each of their colleagues are doing and how they do it, as if to learn their job. There is a perspective that the best prep for Systems Engineering is working first as a specialist such as mechanical, electrical, design, analysis, etc., and then broadening to see the full system.  That is tough to do for an individual starting their career as a SE, so the next best thing would be to really understand as much as possible about how all the team elements function, limiting factors, and “day in the life.” 

    Q5: How do you continue to learn about SE? What professional development activities do you do?

    Teaching is Tony’s preferred method of learning.  He has taught many classes at Jacobs and taught a three-class series in Systems Engineering as part of a Master’s Program in Project Management at the University of Houston.  He has also found that preparation for the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification highlighted significant overlap between SE and PM tasks, sometimes harmoniously, and sometimes not. Tony also engages with the local INCOSE chapter and sometimes participates with AIAA Systems Engineering TC and the JSC SE Forum.

    Q6: What are the next career goals you want to achieve?

    Tony hopes to one day become a chief engineer on a large complex project, such as a spacecraft or robotic probe.

    Q7: What are some of your hobbies/interest outside of work?

    Tony enjoys volleyball, outdoor activities, cycling in the MS-150, triathlons, and obstacle runs. He also plans to participate in a longer triathlon or a triathlon with his daughter.

    In 2021, we reached out to Mr. Williams to answer more questions:

    Q8: Why did you decide to get the SEP certification?

    I took on a new role as the Chief Engineer, SE&I at Jacobs supporting NASA-JSC and saw the SEP as a win-win opportunity across a number of areas. 1st, the NASA SE handbook is very parallel to the INCOSE SE Handbook, and as such, a SEP cert demonstrates my knowledge of the NASA SE Handbook as well as INCOSE.  2nd, SEP cert ensures you know the 'language' - many SE processes can be described in a variety of ways, SEP cert ensures you can speak the same language as other SEPs.    I knew that having the SEP would make more credible as I offer SE advice and recommendations both within Jacobs and within NASA.

    Q9: How does the SEP certification impact your professional career?

    It's given me an additional level of credibility in my professional interactions, within the company, with customers, and within the industry.

    Q10: What has surprised you in the past five years related to systems engineering?

    The recent Space Exploration initiatives within NASA (Lunar landings, Commercial landers, Lunar space stations) have dramatically increased the need for, and the respect for the SE viewpoint.

    Q11: What job titles have you had other than “Systems Engineer?”

    Project Manager, Commander, Space Operations Officer.

  • Interview with Tong Zhu, ASEP

    by Courtney Wright | Sep 18, 2021

    SEP Interview Template 2021 - Tong Zhu photoThis interview was conducted in 2021.

    Q1: Describe your current position/role.

    I am currently a BMS Systems Engineer at Arrival. I implement system engineering processes to improve BMS product/software quality, by interpreting and translating feature requirements into systems requirements, designing BMS functions and decomposing systems requirements into components requirements.

    Q2: What are one or two of your proudest professional accomplishments?

    One is that I have built a Simulink supercapacitor model from scratch, in supporting of the early phase of a new system development, in which I took the full responsibility to conduct the project, from literature research, the simulation model building, test planning, parameter characterization, to final model validation.

    The other is that I have supported a local software team of a multinational company in establishing their system/software engineering process and improve software stability/quality.

    Q3: What is the biggest challenge you face as a Systems Engineer?

    The need to learn the various aspects of a system quickly, both from a high-level point of view and down to implementation details and constraints, which I think is also the fascinating part of being a Systems Engineer.

    Q4: What advice do you have for individuals starting their career as a Systems Engineer?

    Do not limit your horizon to a single system of a product, try to learn and understand other systems as well, which will give you a holistic view and help you make better decisions; keep track of the general technology/industry trend, broaden your knowledge and hone your skills in those areas if possible, this will be helpful for your career in the long run.

    Q5: How do you continue to learn about SE? What professional development activities do you do?

    Through reading books about SE (INCOSE SE Handbook etc.), online training course (such as Coursera) on the job training, as well as training provided by the employer.

    Keep track of the Continual Professional Development activities, apply for the Chartered Engineer and SEP certification.

    Q6: What are the next career goals you want to achieve?

    Obtain CSEP and be able to lead a team or take a leadership role in a SE team.

    Q7: What are some of your hobbies/interests outside of work?

    Playing badminton and hiking in national parks.

    Q8: Why did you decide to get the SEP certification?

    Although I have been working as a Systems Engineer for several years and learning various aspects of the SE, I found myself not having had a well-structured view on the subject. Since INCOSE has provided this program to become professionally certified, I think it is a great opportunity to fill the gap and develop a well-rounded holistic view, and at the same time, have my SE knowledge recognized.

    Q9: How does the SEP certification impact your professional career?

    I think it is the learning process that will have a more meaningful impact on my career rather than the certification itself. In that respect, it might have helped me to get the job at Arrival. Otherwise, I was congratulated by the team for the accreditation of ASEP, which enhanced my reputation in SE capability.

    Q10: What has surprised you in the past five years related to systems engineering?

    The increasing trend of companies looking to adopt MBSE, in addition to those who would like to follow good SE processes.

    Q11: What job titles have you had other than “Systems Engineer?”

    Modelling and Simulation Engineer.

    Q12: Are there any other final comments you would like to make?

    Hope you enjoy being a Systems Engineer, enjoy thinking in Systems and enjoy the beauty of Systems!

  • Interview with David Endler, CSEP

    by Courtney Wright | Sep 17, 2021

    David_Endler_02This interview was conducted in 2021.

    Q1: Describe your current position/role.

    After almost 20  years in several industries, David is working as a systems engineering training provider and consultant. He teaches several systems engineering courses, including preparation courses for the INCOSE SEP program and the SE-ZERT program.

    Q2: What are one or two of your proudest professional accomplishments?

    David does not have a singular moment or project that he is most proud of, but as a coach he feels it is great to see the teams and people have success when they apply a method, he has taught them.  David is also proud of the position he held as acting on behalf of the director of flight safety for the Swiss Air Force while working on a project to install new air traffic management systems on six Swiss airfields.

    Q3: What is the biggest challenge you face as a Systems Engineer?

    David faces two big challenges: the complexity of large systems and communications among the stakeholders.  Air Traffic Management systems, for example, are extremely complex.  The stakeholders have very different backgrounds and information needs, which means that the communication approach for one group or stakeholder will not work for others. David believes that that the single biggest key to addressing these challenges is a well written Operational Concept Document.

    Q4: What advice do you have for individuals starting their career as a Systems Engineer?

    David advises that it is very hard to begin a career in Systems Engineering.  He also recommends listening to more experienced people, continue to practice Systems Engineering, and never losing the curiosity to find one’s own way.  Also, he cautions new Systems Engineers to resist the temptation to use the tools or code too early and not to implement something before understanding the whole problem.

    Q5: How do you continue to learn about SE? What professional development activities do you do?

    David is the Lead Co-Editor of ISO/IEC/IEEE 15288 and has been INCOSE’s Technical Director in 2019 and 2021.  He participates in symposiums and workshops and will be at the INCOSE International Workshop next year.

    Q6: What are the next career goals you want to achieve?

    As a freelancer, David is very happy. It makes David very happy when he helps customers improve and expand the Systems Engineering knowledge in their organization.

    Q7: What are some of your hobbies/interests outside of work?

    David enjoys competing in triathlons. He also did a German Iron Man before his children were born.

    Q8:  Are there any other final comments you would like to make?

    David really appreciates the initiatives, interviews, and blogs that INCOSE is doing.

  • Interview with Bob Gates, ESEP

    by Courtney Wright | Sep 16, 2021

    SEP Interview 11 - Bob Gates photoThe following questions are from an interview in 2014:

    Q1: Describe your current position/role.

    Bob is currently the Program Manager for the United States International Space Station (ISS) integration contract with National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

    Q2: What are one or two of your proudest professional accomplishments?

    Bob’s proudest accomplishment is creating and implementing a training program for the US astronauts and ISS team that integrated hardware from the European Space Agency after the US Challenger disaster.  Secondly, Bob is proud of designing the space traffic and supply model for the US, Russian, Japanese, and European space agencies when the US joined the USS.  The model is used to estimate the cost-per-pound for delivering astronauts and material to the ISS.  It includes the number of flights, specific launch vehicle(s) and pounds of cargo.  It also models the service life of launch vehicles and docking components based on force-of-impact analysis and supply schedule.

    Q3: What is the biggest challenge you face as a Systems Engineer?

    The greatest challenge Bob faces is getting team members to understand the operational needs before designing a solution in order to prevent building a system that meets the stated requirements but does not work.  This involves getting all stakeholders, including the customer and subcontractors, involved and continually tailoring the design process as needed.

    Q4: What advice do you have for individuals starting their career as a Systems Engineer?

    Bob advises young Systems Engineers to understand their project’s system life cycle phases and stages.  He also advises taking advantage of whatever opportunities one’s role in the project has and to "grow where you are planted."

    Q5: How do you continue to learn about SE? What professional development activities do you do?

    Bob continues to learn about Systems Engineering by teaching.  He believes this is the best way to learn SE really well.  He also mentors Booz Allen Hamilton (BAH) team members as they go through the INCOSE certification process by giving advice on preparing for the exam and reviewing application packages. Bob is helping to build a SE practice knowledge repository by collecting other SE project's artifacts such as design documents, configuration management (CM) plans, and project plans.

    Q6: What are the next career goals you want to achieve?

    The next career goal for Bob involves transitioning from hands-on work to consulting and design by reviewing the customer's problem/solution sets and helping them implement their solution.

    Q7: What are some of your hobbies/interest outside of work?

    Bob lives in the country on 10 wooded acres with horses.  He plans to spend time with his tractor clearing the pastures and fields.  He also likes fishing and traveling and plans to do more of that.

    In 2021, we reached out to Mr. Gates to answer more questions:

    Q8: Why did you decide to get the SEP certification?

    Decision for SEP - my supervisor at the time was involved with INCOSE and recognized the value of this certification not only in our work but also for business development. It became a professional development action.  Even though I have over 20 years experience the actual certification was not an easy step. When I got the certification I was proud of what I had accomplished and learned a lot along the way that changed how I approached Systems Engineering. It also developed a keen interest in networking with other SEs and also helping staff reach SEP certification.

    Q9: How does the SEP certification impact your professional career?

    SEP impact on my career - first off it changed how I approached engineering challenges within human space exploration and secondly it energized me to go further and assist others doing the same. I moved on to the ESEP certification and became recognized within my firm as one of the key Systems Engineering stewards. In this role I helped design, develop and implement a large scale SE training and certification program. My name became associated with several major contract wins and I became one of the few ‘go to’ SEs in the company. I had the privilege of aiding other programs resolve their SE issues. Financial and award recognition was also experienced. 

    Q10: What has surprised you in the past five years related to systems engineering?

    Past 5-year surprises - after I became an ESEP I started paying back INCOSE by becoming a Certification Application Reviewer (CAR) reviewing certification packages for both CSEP and ESEP applications. In doing so I have been absolutely amazed at how many industries are using and valuing System Engineering principles.  I always understood the value of Systems Engineering but had no idea how many other industries were adopting these principles. From software development, aerospace, hospitals, auto industry to any form of manufacturing they all recognize the value of repeatable and well-organized processes throughout the life cycle of a project, program or making of a widget. 

    Q11: What job titles have you had other than “Systems Engineer?”

    Other job titles - I’ve been titled Senior Field Technician (Testing Nuclear Events), Technical Trainer (Teaching Satellite Operations and Control), Telemetry Technician (operating satellite ground stations), several forms of Systems Engineer on specific projects, Branch Manager, Chief Systems Engineer and an SE Consultant.

  • Interview with Howard Steel, ASEP

    by Courtney Wright | Sep 15, 2021

    IMG_20210629_081431This interview was conducted in 2021.

    Q1: Describe your current position/role.

    I undertake a range of engineering activities within my role.   I undertake background research enabling equipment and sub-system selection and design.  I author functional specifications, V&V plans, provide design oversight at preliminary to detail design stages for equipment and sub-systems used within civil nuclear decommissioning. I work with other disciplines including Construction Structural and Architecture, Control Electrical and Instrumentation and Analysis in the process of delivering project work.

    I also contribute to the health and safety of co-workers, stakeholders and specifically operators of this equipment and I ensure compliance with UK legislation generally.  I also mentor other colleagues starting on their careers.    

    Q2: What are one or two of your proudest professional accomplishments?

    To-date, my proudest moments include being advised that I had made Member status with the Institute of Mechanical Engineers here in the UK.  Personally it meant I was an “Engineer”. It followed that I became Chartered Engineer.  Other moments include seeing equipment for which I had provided the mechanical designs and had helped assemble shown on the BBCs Tomorrows World program followed by its display within the Science Museum in London.  

    Q3: What is the biggest challenge you face as a Systems Engineer?

    That systems engineering with its attendant activities such as the creation and maintenance of V&V plans are not something that can be “bolted-on” to a project and that they run core to process of delivery.  Further, that there must always be bidirectional traceability in delivering functionality and that requirements must be written as design “agnostic”.  No preconceptions about equipment or performance should be inferred.  

    Q4: What advice do you have for individuals starting their career as a Systems Engineer?

    Do not home in as a specialist on any specific element of SE. SE is very broad in its scope and it should not be reduced to a few “core” activities. Study for ASEP at the earliest opportunity if for no other reason than it emphasizes how broad SE really is.  

    Q5: How do you continue to learn about SE? What professional development activities do you do?

    SE is core to what I and my colleagues do. That’s not to say we specialize in SE, but systems thinking allows codification what it is we do in terms of SE.  I am currently chairing a study group that is held outside working hours and owing to the Covid pandemic is undertaken using TEAMs.  This study group has allowed us to maintain momentum following an initial course of training and ultimately take the ASEP exam.

    Q6: What are the next career goals you want to achieve?

    I am currently writing an application for CSEP. However, it remains a goal, on the “bucket list” if you will, that one day I should make Fellow of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers here in the UK.

    Q7: What are some of your hobbies/interests outside of work?

    I cook, producing dishes from all regions. I also garden, having a modestly sized patch I try to keep the snails and slugs at bay. I also watch all available science programs on television paying particular attention to those programs involving the US space program, particularly the Apollo moon flights.  

    Q8: Why did you decide to get the SEP certification?

    With people who are classed as “systems thinkers” it was predicted that my company could benefit in terms of winning future work. I wanted in on the ground floor so to speak.

    Q9: How does the SEP certification impact your professional career?

    This is work in progress. SE is core to what we do anyway, so the consequences of recognition as ASEP, remains to be seen.

    Q10: What has surprised you in the past five years related to systems engineering?

    Although, new to INCOSE and that as ASEP, looking back I would suggest that within our community, SE is largely not recognized because it is so embedded within our work.  

    Q11: What job titles have you had other than “Systems Engineer?”

    Not many really. Engineer, Project Engineer and now Senior Mechanical Engineer.

  • Interview with Stephanie Chiesi, CSEP

    by Courtney Wright | Sep 14, 2021

    SEP Interview - Stephanie Chiesi photoThis interview presents information from 2014 and some updates from 2021:

    Q1: Describe your current position/role.

    2014: Stephanie is a Principal Systems Engineer at Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ. She works on the production team, as well as on the development team for a block upgrade of a heritage air-to-surface and moving maritime target system to include interface requirements for the flight platforms.  She employs her in-depth aerospace background to implement requirements changes which will result in iterative system enhancements for the end user.  She also currently serves as the INCOSE SOARizona Chapter President.

    2021: I am a Chief Systems Engineer at SAIC in Tucson, AZ. In my current role I work with a team of other chief systems engineers to advance the state of the art in Digital Engineering and deploy these capabilities to our customers. I work both on the research and development of these capabilities and with deployment efforts. I predominantly support our NASA customers and contracts.

    Q2: What are one or two of your proudest professional accomplishments?

    Stephanie’s proudest professional accomplishment is managing the delivery of over 200-piece parts to the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) being developed by NASA. Working for a sub-contractor to Lockheed Martin, she employed the full spectrum of her Systems Engineering skills to manage the project from design through production to acceptance and delivery of this critical hardware over a five-year period.

    Q3: What is the biggest challenge you face as a Systems Engineer?

    The biggest challenge Stephanie faces as a Systems Engineer is encouraging and balancing solid Systems Engineering principles with the reality of cost and schedule constraints.   The ideal Systems Engineering approach to a system design and assembly is almost always faced with the need to implement solutions which are “good enough” for the sake of budget realities.  The challenge for the SE is to fully understand this trade space and advocate for the optimal system design and test solution.

    Q4: What advice do you have for individuals starting their career as a Systems Engineer?

    Stephanie’s advice to new Systems Engineers is to not be intimated by a lack of knowledge or experience in a particular technical domain, area of industry, or engineering discipline.  Good Systems Engineering is ubiquitous across all system development in any industry.  They key is to network with the subject matter experts in the field and glean the knowledge needed to apply SE knowledge.  Always be a learner and get as much education as possible from system experts to understand and apply SE processes.

    Q5: How do you continue to learn about SE? What professional development activities do you do?

    2014: Stephanie is the local chapter president of her INCOSE chapter, and in this role she engages regularly in learning about SE and professional development.  She takes full advantage of cross industry technical forums to include participation in the INCOSE International Workshop and events through American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).  She enjoys interfacing with SE’s outside of her industry to enhance her own SE skills and learn how SE principles are applied in other domains.  She also participates in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) events for K-12 in her community and interfaces with the Systems and Industrial Engineering (SIE) department at the University of Arizona to encourage the next generation of Systems Engineers.

    Q6: What are the next career goals you want to achieve?

    Stephanie would like to grow into a Systems Engineering leadership role within her current program and then perhaps become an SE Functional Manager.   In this path she hopes to grow into roles where she can provide technical guidance and leadership within innovating and emerging programs in the aerospace industry.  Stephanie also plans to be both learning and guiding within INCOSE and other technical communities that share a passion for delivering innovation.

    Q7: What are some of your hobbies/interest outside of work?

    Stephanie has several outlets that provide balance and fun in the midst of her professional pursuits.  She is a competitive ballroom dancer.  She is a gaming aficionado and attends gaming conventions, even crafting her own costumes for these events with her knitting and sewing skills.   She is also an avid runner having completed four marathons in the last 2 years along with several half marathons.  The crowning running event for her though has been competing in the Inaugural Dopey Challenge which is several races totaling 48.6 miles of running over a 4 day period at Walt Disney World in Florida.

    Q8:  Are there any other final comments you would like to make?

    There are a lot of ways to describe what SE is and how it applies to one’s workplace, but very few people have the same definition or description of what the discipline is.  Be prepared to give an example or a model of how SE applies to a system, such as Systems Engineering can be described as the connective tissue for the body of a system, or the glue that finds ways to connect all the parts.

    In 2021, we reached out to Ms. Chiesi to answer more questions:

    Q9: Why did you decide to get the SEP certification?

    I decided to pursue SEP certification because I thought it was important to my career to have a measurable and demonstrable proof of my knowledge and expertise. I think SEP certification shows my investment in my own continuing education and role as a systems engineering leader.

    Q10: How does the SEP certification impact your professional career?

    Resumes and profiles on sites like LinkedIn always have a place for certifications and awards, and I proudly list my SEP certification there. Colleagues and hiring managers that may be looking at these sources will recognize that certification and know the effort it takes to achieve and maintain the SEP certification. In addition, there are some contracts and proposal requests that have been released by customers that ask for SEP certified personnel if available and so I can help meet that requirement.

    Q11: What has surprised you in the past five years related to systems engineering?

    What has surprised me the most in the past five years in systems engineering I think has been the unevenness in approach to adopting new technical languages and tools to get the work done. The training and adoption of engineering standards, languages and tools can vary greatly within a company, besides from one company to another or one industry to another. There are times where it seems there are clear benefits and that more people are catching up with training and adoption only to turn around at the next conference and hear that same company repeating the same thing or same struggles as 5+ years ago. I think that within the last 2-3 years there has been more effort between academia and industry to bridge some of those gaps, as well as more coordination and partnering with other engineering disciplines that is really starting to make progress a constant forward push rather than sinusoidal.

    Q12: What job titles have you had other than “Systems Engineer?”

    I have heard titles of Project Engineer and Project Lead as well as Integrated Project Team Lead, but probably my favorite title that I've heard given to me is "Trouble".

  • Interview with Emmet Eckman, ESEP

    by Courtney Wright | Sep 13, 2021

    SEP Interview - Emmet Eckman photoThis interview was conducted in 2021.

    Q1: Describe your current position/role.

    I am currently a Northrop Grumman Director of Software Engineering with the responsibility of migration and adoption of the USAF PlatformOne (P1) on the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase of the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) program.

    Q2: What are one or two of your proudest professional accomplishments?

    Chief Engineer of a DOD ACAT 1 (Major Acquisition) of an Analyst Modernization (AMod) enterprise content and metadata repository program. Technical Lead through the Opportunity Capture, Chief Engineer through Proposal and Chief Engineer into execution. As such, created the winning technical strategy, facilitated 9 Technical Exchange Meetings (TEMs) with our 45 teammates focused on the Technical Task Orders (TTOs), collecting the data necessary to frame the TTO response as well as the technical "story" for the volume. Led the 753 page technical response, leading the team through creation of the 92K word technical offering. As the Chief Engineer, responsible for ensuring the technical success of the repositories, mentoring and developing the technical staff on the program, overall; program risk management, supporting program execution as well as introducing technology innovation and program growth. Both enterprise repositories, built on the Free and Open Source (FOSS) Apache Hadoop stack achieved reach their Initial Operating Capability (IOC) Milestones ahead of schedule and under budget.

    I was the Capture and Proposal Technical Lead for our $2B LEAGUE overseas family of captures. The ARSENAL portion of LEAGUE is a Corporate Priority Win for a $1.1B ID/IQ analytics opportunity. The IPSWICH portion of LEAGUE is a $400M Sector Priority Win for the infrastructure. I led the teams that crafted responses to the customers competitive Pre-Qualification Questionnaires. For both ARSENAL and LEAGUE, we were down selected to compete in the next phase of competition on the strength of our technical response. Created the ARSENAL technical strategy that supported the proposal – derived Technical Win Themes and Discriminators and proof for them. Created staffing plans for both proposal efforts and led the creation of the ARSENAL 288 page, 83,000 word response outlining our strengths in 11 technical areas, responding to 3 different technical problems, as well as describing how we would delivery and support analytic capabilities. Further, along with the ARSENAL bid Chief Engineer, we led the creation of orals presentation material covering the entire breadth of our technical response. In January 2014, the customer awarded NG an ARSENAL contract, but were not selected as the service provider for IPSWICH.

    Q3: What is the biggest challenge you face as a Systems Engineer?

    The biggest challenge is when customers don’t see the value of SE or systems engineers. They don’t think they need “it” or thing SE is simply documentation or worse yet, think it is just systems administration.

    Q4: What advice do you have for individuals starting their career as a Systems Engineer?

    First -- Adopt a “T” model –going deep in a technology or domain before going wide across multiple technologies or domains. Don’t try to go wide before going deep. The experience gained by becoming a SME in an area will benefit you throughout your entire career.

    Second – get a long-term mentor. Someone who is outside of your management chain, and at least 2 levels higher in the organization.

    Q5: How do you continue to learn about SE? What professional development activities do you do?

    Participate in INCOSE Chapter meetings, INCOSE IW and IS.

    Q6: What are the next career goals you want to achieve?

    Retirement.

    Q7: What are some of your hobbies/interests outside of work?

    I am an avid SCUBA diver, recreational and technical, as well as an avid philatelist collecting US Revenues and TaxPaid stamps and as well as fancy cancellations on the 1861 3cent Washington issue.

    Q8: Why did you decide to get the SEP certification?

    As a active practicing SE, I wanted the external organization recognition as a SE professional.

    Q9: How does the SEP certification impact your professional career?

    I am one of only a few (11) ESEPs at my company, I am recognized as a subject matter expert.

    Q10: What has surprised you in the past five years related to systems engineering?

    Regardless of the pace of change or the technical area of change (e/.g., adoption of DevOPS), or domain, the need for system engineering has not gone away, but has actually grown. The ability to visualize the entire system or enterprise and help stakeholders rationalize decisions over the system is still a requirement.

    Q11: What job titles have you had other than “Systems Engineer?”

    Director of Programs, Director of Engineering, Program Manager, Business Development Manager, Capture Manager, Chief Engineer, Technology Evangelist.

    Q12: Are there any other final comments you would like to make?

    One of the many things I appreciate about INCOSE is the ability to give back to the profession. Since 2014, I have served on the Certification Advisory Group (CAG), now twice as the chair. It has afforded me the opportunity to affect the number of SEPs by growing and evangelizing the program and creating new advocates.

  • Interview with Simon Tinling, ASEP

    by Courtney Wright | Sep 12, 2021

    SEP Interview Template 2021_Simon Tinling photoThis interview was conducted in 2021.

    Q1: Describe your current position/role.

    I’m responsible for developing and managing the stakeholder and system requirements for a major nuclear infrastructure project.

    Q2: What are one or two of your proudest professional accomplishments?

    I’m a Chartered Engineer and Chartered Project Professional, but my proudest professional accomplishments have been team accomplishments.  They’ve come in the moments that the team has reached major project milestones like placing contracts for aircraft carriers and submarines or submitting robust recommendations to government on how to manage nuclear decommissioning in a safe and responsible way.

    Q3: What is the biggest challenge you face as a Systems Engineer?

    Understanding and applying systems engineering approaches can be challenging but I find the biggest (and most important) challenge is communicating them in ways that project teams and stakeholders can understand and get behind.

    Q4: What advice do you have for individuals starting their career as a Systems Engineer?

    Remember that systems engineering is a discipline built on interdisciplinary collaboration and learning from the experience of past projects.  So always be ready to learn from other disciplines, and from the successes and mistakes of the past.

    Q5: How do you continue to learn about SE? What professional development activities do you do?

    I have a growing collection of reference books which I dip into regularly.  I’ve also found some helpful Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) such as those from University of New South Wales.  Best of all, however, is the opportunity to share learning and experience with others in my sector, who are also working at applying systems engineering approaches within nuclear and infrastructure projects.

    Q6: What are the next career goals you want to achieve?

    As part of progressing the project I’m working on, I’d love to play a part in advancing systems engineering methodologies (eg. Model Based Systems Engineering) within the nuclear and infrastructure sectors.

    Q7: What are some of your hobbies/interests outside of work?

    Outings with family and maintaining community through my local church have become especially important to me in the past year.  Getting outdoors regularly is also precious, I enjoy running and canoeing on my local river and I find that some of my most creative thoughts come to me at these times.

    Q8: Why did you decide to get the SEP certification?

    I was looking for a knowledge framework (the INCOSE Handbook and ISO15288) that would pull together and makes sense of my experience with complex projects.  It has also helped me think through and apply good practice to my current project.

    Q9: How does the SEP certification impact your professional career?

    I’m finding the main benefit of working towards CSEP certification is the reflective learning that comes from holding up my experience against the INCOSE competences, SEBOK and SE Handbook.  How have I done things, or seen things done, in the past and how might I do them differently in future?

    Q10: What has surprised you in the past five years related to systems engineering?

    There is so much complementarity between systems engineering and project management, particularly for projects involving development of complex systems.  So, I’m often surprised when I see it relatively undeveloped.  In the UK, Association for Project Management and INCOSE UK have jointly formed a Systems Thinking Special Interest Group (SIG) that has done some great work in this area, but there is a need for much wider awareness.

    Q11: What job titles have you had other than “Systems Engineer?”

    “Project Manager”, “Project Engineer”, “Engineering Manager”

  • Interview with Amanda Muller, CSEP

    by Courtney Wright | Sep 11, 2021

    SEP Interview 21 - Amanda_Muller photoThis interview presents information from 2014 and updates from 2021:

    Q1: Describe your current position/role.

    2014 – Dr. Muller is a Systems Engineer in the Northrop Grumman Health IT division.  She works on updating and maintaining health insurance eligibility systems and developing health analytics tools.

    2021 – Dr. Muller is an Artificial Intelligence Systems Engineer and Technical Fellow at Northrop Grumman.  She works on creating process and policy for secure and ethical AI system development, with an emphasis on human-machine teaming.

    Q2: What are one or two of your proudest professional accomplishments?

    2014 - Dr. Muller is proud of completing a two-year Systems Engineering program at Northrop Grumman, which tackled a real problem internal to the company.  The program, which was highly successful, applied proper System Engineering life cycle processes from project inception through Critical Design Review.  This program showed that Systems Engineering could be effectively applied to real problems. 

    2021 – Dr. Muller is proud of being named a Northrop Grumman Technical Fellow, an elite group of technical experts at the company. She is also proud of mentoring many young systems engineers toward their career goals.    

    Q3: What is the biggest challenge you face as a Systems Engineer?

    2014 - The biggest challenge Dr. Muller faces is a lack of knowledge and understanding of Systems Engineering by clients. Her clients sometimes have difficulty understanding the value of the upfront investment that System Engineering provides.

    2021 – The biggest challenge Dr. Muller faces is pushing the boundaries of systems engineering practice when working with legacy systems based on outdated methodologies.

    Q4: What advice do you have for individuals starting their career as a Systems Engineer?

    2014 - Dr. Muller believes new Systems Engineers should find a good mentor who understands the real world of Systems Engineering and can help them figure out how to apply SE in the real world.

    2021 – Dr. Muller believes new Systems Engineers should find a good mentor who understands the real world of Systems Engineering and can help them figure out how to apply SE in the real world.

    Q5: How do you continue to learn about SE? What professional development activities do you do?

    2014 - Dr. Muller is an INCOSE member.  She participates in INCOSE webinars and Northrop Grumman professional development telecons.  Dr. Muller continues to communicate with the people whom she has previously worked in order to share lessons learned on other projects.  She is also a member of the Society of Women Engineers, where she participates in activities such as tutorials on leadership, technical trends, and program management.

    Q6: What are the next career goals you want to achieve?

    2014 - Dr. Muller wants to become a Technical Fellow at Northrop Grumman and provide impact within the company and to the customer.

    2021 – Dr. Muller wants to continue to grow the practice of human-machine teaming in AI systems.

    Q7: What are some of your hobbies/interest outside of work?

    2021 – Dr. Muller loves the outdoors, and enjoys hiking, biking, and camping. She is an avid board gamer, and is currently working her way through Gloomhaven. She reads a lot, particularly science fiction, and admits to loving the escape of a good book!

    Q8:  Are there any other final comments you would like to make?

    2021 – Dr. Muller encourages people to start the certification process.  She learned so much about Systems Engineering just by studying for the exam!

    We reached out to Dr. Muller to answer more questions in 2021:

    Q9: Why did you decide to get the SEP certification?

    I wanted to prove to myself and others that I was competent as a systems engineer. Since I spent the first part of my career in Specialty Engineering (specifically human factors), getting the CSEP was a way to prove that I not only had depth in one area, but also had breadth of knowledge across systems engineering disciplines.

    Q10: How does the SEP certification impact your professional career?

    It’s given me the flexibility to take on different systems engineering roles. Prior to getting my CSEP, I was almost exclusively doing human factors-related roles. After the CSEP, I was able to try roles outside that discipline which accelerated my growth tremendously!

    Q11: What has surprised you in the past five years related to systems engineering?

    Just how much it has evolved! It’s so exciting to see the field continue to grow and adapt to the changing needs of our customers and our technologies.

    Q12: What job titles have you had other than “Systems Engineer?”

    Human Factors Engineer, Artificial Intelligence Systems Engineer.

  • Interview with Bernardo Delicado, ESEP

    by Courtney Wright | Sep 10, 2021

    This interview was conducted in 2021. Bernardo Delicado

    Q1: Describe your current position/role.

    Bernardo A. Delicado has been a professional systems engineer for 28 years in the aerospace and defense sector in Europe. For the first eight years he was employed by INTA, the aerospace agency of the Spanish government working on a great number of European research projects. Following that time, he spent twelve years with Airbus Defense and Space assuming a wide range of technical roles with transnational responsibilities within military aircraft programs developed among the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. In 2011, Bernardo moved to MBDA Missile Systems (Airbus Group), assuming the role of Engineering Director to Spain conducting a large part of his responsibilities embedded in multinational teams in France and the UK. In March 2020 he joined Indra Sistemas as NGWS (New Generation Weapon System) Chief Engineer and Systems Engineering Director as part of the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) Program, a tri-national program between France, Germany and Spain.

    Bernardo has a PhD in Interdisciplinary Engineering, M.S in Physics and a B.S in Aerospace Engineering. Founding member of AEIS (Spanish Chapter of INCOSE) in 2012 being its President from 2014 to 2015, currently is the Technical Director of AEIS. He is an ESEP, editor of SEBoK Part 5 (Enabling Systems Engineering), member of the Editorial Board for INCOSE Systems Engineering Handbook 5th Edition and member of Industrial Committee of Complex Systems Design & Management (CSD&M) conference in France.

    Q2: What are one or two of your proudest professional accomplishments?

    By education Bernardo is an Aerospace Engineer, and his original technical career was in aerodynamics and aircraft electro-magnetic compatibility (EMC). From 2001 to 2003, he led the development of a new EMC test facility which would host certification testing of High Intensity Radiated Fields (HIRF) for the Eurofighter Typhoon. In 2004, he received an innovation award for his contributions to the qualification for the same aircraft by British Aerospace Systems in the UK. While at Airbus, Bernardo saw the gap between senior and junior engineers and in 2009 led an internal post-graduate program Master in Aircraft Systems Integration in partnership with the Carlos III University of Madrid for younger employees in which they learned the broad view of the product and how the day-to-day work influenced the product. They learned about systems engineering, lifecycle, integration, and so forth. He is very proud of these accomplishments.

    Q3: What is the biggest challenge you face as a Systems Engineer?

    While most companies are seeing the value of uniform processes and investing money in Systems Engineering, Bernardo believes engineers still sometimes struggle with systems thinking. One particular problem is having a common language. This takes time to develop.

    Q4: What advice do you have for individuals starting their career as a Systems Engineer?

    Bernardo recommends that junior Systems Engineers lay a strong technical foundation in whatever technical field they have studied. The Systems Engineering skills can be built on top of that. While there are Systems Engineering degrees, most SE skills are learned not through academics, but through day-to-day learning. It probably takes 15 years to have full Systems Engineering experience. Bernardo also encourages young engineers to be curious and not to stay only in their area of expertise, but find out how other things work, including the non-technical, such as how one’s business and organization functions.

    Q5: How do you continue to learn about SE? What professional development activities do you do?

    Bernardo believes it is important to always be learning and he finds much value in being part of the SE communities and associations, such as INCOSE. He also has collaborated with academia (e.g., Carlos III University of Madrid, Technical University of Madrid, Delft University of Technology, Georgia Institute of Technology, etc.). Mentoring and training younger colleagues and students is an important avenue of development for him.

    Q6: What are the next career goals you want to achieve?

    Above any professional pretension, Bernardo would like to achieve worldwide recognition as a reference in Systems Engineering without expecting anything in return. With that goal in mind, he is gaining leadership experience and a high profile in the international sphere as part of his editorial role for the INCOSE Systems Engineering Handbook 5th Edition and his commitment to the promotion of Systems Engineering and INCOSE in Spanish Speaking countries in Latin-America.

    Q7: What are some of your hobbies/interest outside of work?

    Bernardo recognizes his family as his main priority and hobby, particularly spending time with his wife, his son and his dog Cocó. He also enjoys training people, attending lectures, and reading.

    Q8:  Are there any other final comments you would like to make?

    One of the main challenges of Systems Engineering is making it happen within organizations. That involves capturing the knowledge of the workers and passing it on to the next generation. A study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) indicated that 70 percent of system-level knowledge is not documented but encapsulated in the minds of employees. Systems Engineers are well suited to solve this problem. In order to effectively capture this tacit knowledge, one needs both collaboration and interaction with others, and here we find that Systems Engineering is the answer! Systems Engineers have both deep and broad skills.

    Q9:  Why did you decide to get the SEP certification?

    When he worked for Airbus, they promoted the SEP certification.

    Q10:  How does the SEP certification impact your professional career?

    Recognition as a professional systems engineer and a pedigree that would be the key to success in filling important engineering positions.

    Q11:  What has surprised you in the past five years related to systems engineering?

    The exponential growth in interactions and complexity that occur in the systems and ecosystems in which they operate.  This brings us to the need to design interoperable products, which are not only complex systems, but complex systems of systems.

    Q12:  What job titles have you had other than “Systems Engineer?”

    Specialist, Expert, Chief Engineer, Head of Technology Management, and Engineering Director.

  • Interview with James Towers, ASEP

    by Courtney Wright | Sep 09, 2021

    SEP Interview 2021 - James Towers photoThis interview was conducted in 2021.

    Q1: Describe your current position/role.

    I’m a Systems Engineering consultant specializing in Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE). I help organizations introduce or improve their MBSE capability through advice, training, and mentoring.

    Q2: What are one or two of your proudest professional accomplishments?

    I was proud to be granted the status of Charted Engineer in 2015. In the UK anyone can call themselves an Engineer, but Charted Engineer is a reserved professional title for which you must prove you have the required competencies. Another proud moment was the publication of my first book, “Don’t Panic! The Absolute Beginners Guide to Architecture Frameworks” which I co-authored with a colleague. Obviously, I was also honored to be awarded ASEP status.

    Q3: What is the biggest challenge you face as a Systems Engineer?

    Explaining what Systems Engineering is, and more specifically what MBSE is and its benefits.

    Q4: What advice do you have for individuals starting their career as a Systems Engineer?

    Asses your competence (there’s a framework for that!), set annual goals, make them realistic and achievable, review regularly and just keep improving.

    Q5: How do you continue to learn about SE? What professional development activities do you do?

    I read Insight and other SE publications, I attend conferences and I participate in INCOSE Working Groups. I also research and write books and conference papers – I’ve won the ‘Best Paper Award’ at the INCOSE UK Annual Systems Engineering Conference (ASEC) on two occasions.

    Q6: What are the next career goals you want to achieve?

    I’m currently writing a second book and working towards CSEP. I review my professional development objectives every year so will be aiming for something new in 2022.

    Q7: What are some of your hobbies/interests outside of work?

    We got a new puppy in 2020 so currently all my spare time is taken up with dog walking. Prior to the pandemic I enjoyed attending live comedy and music so I hope to get back to those soon.

    Q8: Why did you decide to get the SEP certification?

    I wanted to be able to demonstrate my competence in Systems Engineering as part of my continuing professional development.

    Q9: How does the SEP certification impact your professional career?

    The process has made me more knowledgeable in areas of SE which previously I hadn’t been involved in via my role, and also gives me credibility as an SE consultant.

    Q10: What has surprised you in the past five years related to systems engineering?

    There are still some Systems Engineers who think MBSE doesn’t or can’t work

    Q11: What job titles have you had other than “Systems Engineer?”

    I’ve been a “Control Systems Engineer”, “Member of Scientific Staff”, “Software Architect” and “Business Analyst”. I’m currently also an “Author” and “Visiting Lecturer”.

    Q12: Are there any other final comments you would like to make?

    Only that I encourage any Systems Engineer who hasn’t yet started to pursue SEP certification.

  • Interview with Stephen Guine, CSEP

    by Courtney Wright | Sep 08, 2021

    SEP Interview 17 - Stephen Guine photoThe following questions are from an interview in 2014:

    Q1: Describe your current position/role.

    Stephen is a Systems Engineering Integrated Product Team (IPT) Manager for the B2 platform and a functional manager for B2 Systems Engineers in Palmdale, CA. He has been doing this work for about eight years and is currently adding new capabilities to the platform while ensuring backward compatibility. He is in charge of a team of about 30 engineers.

    Q2: What are one or two of your proudest professional accomplishments?

    As a Systems Engineer and Analyst with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Stephen developed a model of systems operation, power operation, and taxation relationships. This involved metrics and modeling, detailed understanding of the phenomenology to include fluid dynamics, and understanding of environmental and budgetary constraints across the entire life cycle. This model showed a Systems Engineering approach to understand and provide solutions to a very complex and interrelated problem. Another project Stephen is proud of is providing education/training to new engineers at Northrup Grumman Corporation (NGC) with processes and tools that provide background and insight into the program. This approach ensures that an evolving workforce can be assured for future program success.

    Q3: What is the biggest challenge you face as a Systems Engineer?

    Stephen is challenged by the product and the environment which acutely affect the role of the Systems Engineer. Engineers at the lowest levels do not appreciate system level implications of development and how it affects other subsystems. On the business side of the house, quality Systems Engineering is not always an integral part of every program as it is not usually appreciated as value added. On the customer side, there is a similar issue of implementation.

    Q4: What advice do you have for individuals starting their career as a Systems Engineer?

    Steven advises to have respect for all disciplines involved in the development cycle of a system while appreciating that Systems Engineering provides a very valuable input to the system design. Systems Engineering needs to be viewed as an evolving practice that grows with experience, tool development, and new processes. Systems are becoming more and more interrelated as systems of systems leading to infinite complexity which requires a very disciplined approach. One needs to understand that this discipline is a moving target.

    Q5: How do you continue to learn about SE? What professional development activities do you do?

    Stephen continues to learn by involvement with associations. Being the vice president of the INCOSE LA Chapter provides him with opportunities to meet other engineers from many industries and exchange ideas. Teaching the practice of Systems Engineering forces him to look at problems in a variety of different ways and learn from others. Getting involved in areas outside of his primary role in the aerospace industry allows Stephen to learn from other field applications and challenges. Stephen reads several Systems Engineering papers a year from publications such as INSIGHT and conference publications to stay abreast of recent developments.

    Q6: What are the next career goals you want to achieve?

    One of Stephen’s goals is to move upward in the organization to a Systems Engineer leader and on to multi-program roles. Stephen would also like to be able to promote Systems Engineering research and participate in panels that discuss various aspects of Systems Engineering and design.

    Q7: What are some of your hobbies/interests outside of work?

    Stephen enjoys finish carpentry of furniture to blend the use of tools, planning of the design, and implement the process with artistic insights and ergonomic use.

    Q8:  Are there any other final comments you would like to make?

    The joy received from Stephen’s involvement in Systems Engineering is in the hard work and the rewards of a successful program where one can point and say that the process really led to the success.

    In 2021, we reached out to Mr. Guine to answer more questions:

    Q9: Why did you decide to get the SEP certification?

    I got the certification for a couple of different reasons. First off, while I generally don’t believe in the value of a certification certificate, I deeply believe in the value of the knowledge that you are forced to gain or reacquaint yourself with to get a certification. In my case, I was transitioning into a new company, into a new industry. And although I had done systems engineering for quite a while, because I was coming from a different domain, I felt that certification would be a stamp of “approval” and give me a greater amount of “street cred” in my new organization and not having to spend so much time re-proving my bona fides. Additionally, I knew that some of the systems engineering knowledge that I had was kind of stale. I saw getting certification as a useful approach to relearning, refreshing, reacquainting myself with that core knowledge, not only for my long-term benefit, but also for my immediate benefit in a new organization by being able to show that not only did I understand systems engineering in practice, but I also understood it in theory and I understood how to apply that theory to the practice.

    Q10: How does the SEP certification impact your professional career?

    The SEP is a hell of a calling card. When I meet new people from new organizations, whom I may not have worked with or I’ve worked with lightly, having a SEP is my entree into other system engineering environments and conversations. Additionally, for situations where it is necessary to regress the conversation to discussing the fundamentals of the practice of systems engineering and then extrapolating to how we might best implement it for the system at hand, having that SEP lends credence to my words, especially if someone is not familiar with my previous work.

    Q11: What has surprised you in the past five years related to systems engineering?

    I would say that the rise of easy-to-build software or low-cost software has unduly influenced some into thinking that robust systems engineering may not be necessary, because the cost of implementing and iterating through multiple software builds of a system – let’s just say an app – is relatively low. And this has tricked some individuals and organizations into thinking: “Well, let’s just go.” Very similar to the old practice of “just start coding” and we’ll see where we go. I think that many organizations, especially, with the rise of cybercrime have realized or have started to realize that in a modern cyber physical world, having an incredibly strong understanding of the system under design, the environment into which it will be deployed, the varied and myriad of user’s needs – especially, when we’re talking commercial systems – and the nearly endless number of malicious actors, actually highlights the need and the value of strong systems engineering. I feel that, maybe, we’re starting to turn the corner on that.

    Q12: What job titles have you had other than “Systems Engineer?”

    Integrated Functional Capability Manager, Incremental Verification Engineer, Mission Engineer, System Architect, Model Based Systems Engineer. But probably, the one that I think I appreciate most is, he’s the guy who gets problems solved.

  • Interview with Gabriela Coe, ESEP

    by Courtney Wright | Sep 07, 2021

    SEP Interview 07b - Gabriela Coe photoThe interview presents information from 2014 and updates from 2021:

    Q1: Describe your current position/role.

    2014: Gabriela is a Deputy Manager in a Systems Engineering department of about 20 people. Her primary responsibility is to keep track of the development processes used in order to ensure that that the team is consistent and that all the Systems Engineering artifacts are systematically developed (e.g., use cases, requirements). 

    2021:  Gabriela is a Consulting Systems Engineer and Technical Fellow at Northrop Grumman.  As a senior technical advisor, her current assignment allows her to drive systems engineering and software development discipline across the organization.  Her areas of focus include digital transformation and software modernization and sustainment.

    Q2: What are one or two of your proudest professional accomplishments?

    2014: Getting respect from peers and having peers come to her for advice and feedback on how to do certain things is Gabriela’s most proud accomplishment. Additionally, Gabriela is proud of being able to work with her team and guide the less experienced Systems Engineers through the process including what to look at, influencing how they go through the process, and how to work with the team.

    2021: Obtaining the INCOSE Expert Systems Engineer (ESEP) certification and being selected as a Technical Fellow, an elite group of technical experts within her company, have been two of Gabriela’s proudest professional accomplishments.  Additionally, Gabriela is proud of influencing leaders, peers, and early career engineers within her organization to develop solutions for tough customer problems.

    Q3: What is the biggest challenge you face as a Systems Engineer?

    2014: The biggest challenge that Gabriela faces is budget restrictions. Another big challenge she faces is having higher level management appreciate the System Engineering processes. When management wants something quicker, she reinforces that it is the process that drives quality and that shortcuts sometimes sacrifice quality. The challenge is to try and negotiate the lead times to ensure that all the basic processes are covered adequately to ensure quality.

    2021: One of the biggest challenges that Gabriela faces is change management especially when working with dated systems and methodologies.

    Q4: What advice do you have for individuals starting their career as a Systems Engineer?

    2014: Gabriela advises to look at the big picture and drill down into the details. Additionally, Gabriela suggests obtaining assignments in different areas of the system life cycle such as development and testing to get more of the big picture and to get to know every fact of the lifecycle of the program to become good Systems Engineers.

    2021:  Gabriela’s advice for early career Systems Engineers is to take every opportunity, no matter how big, small, or glamorous to make a difference within their organizations.  Sometimes doing a great job with a small task or less glamorous assignment can turn into an opportunity that propels one to discover people, and new solutions and challenges.

    Q5: How do you continue to learn about SE? What professional development activities do you do?

    2014: Gabriela attends INCOSE webinars on a regular basis. She is the lead for the INCOSE Community of Practice at her organization. She coordinates with different speakers/presenters and hosts webinars for her community of practice.

    2021: Gabriela is the chair of the INCOSE Training Working Group where she volunteers her time to provide and coordinate training to other INCOSE members, she attends INCOSE International Workshops, continues to lead the INCOSE Community of Practice at her organization, and mentors other engineers on their systems engineering journey.  Additionally, she attends INCOSE and Society of Women Engineers (SWE) webinars.

    Q6: What are the next career goals you want to achieve?

    2014: Gabriela would like to continue to progress in Systems Engineering. She would like to become a Systems Engineering manager who has authority to make decisions.

    2021: Gabriela would like to continue to mentor early- and mid-career engineers so that they can make an impact in their organizations.

    Q7: What are some of your hobbies/interests outside of work?

    2014: Gabriela enjoys travel, exercise, triathlons, and being in the outdoors.

    2021: Gabriela continues to enjoy travel (within pandemic boundaries!), exercise, and most recently launched her Keys to the Future podcast which provides advice and tips on staying focused on one’s education journey targeting under-served student communities.

    Q8:  Are there any other final comments you would like to make?

    2014: Systems Engineering goes really well with interpersonal skills, since System Engineers have to be able to influence people to achieve common goals (e.g., on time, under budget). Interpersonal skills are something that the Systems Engineer should have in their bag of skills.

    2021: Gabriela encourages early career engineers to start out by obtaining their ASEP certification and building the skills and experience that will set them up on a course to get SEP certification and beyond!

    In 2021, we reached out to Ms. Coe to answer more questions:

    Q9: Why did you decide to get the SEP certification?

    I decided to get the SEP certification initially because I felt it provided additional pedigree to my systems engineering experience.  When I became eligible to pursue the ESEP certification, it really was the next logical step to take to continue having the certification from a world-renowned organization.

    Q10: How does the SEP certification impact your professional career?

    I think having the CSEP and ESEP certifications have impacted my career in several positive ways, including meeting a lot of like-minded and SE-passionate individuals, applying the knowledge gained through having obtained the certifications to solving tough problems for our customers, mentoring young professionals on systems engineering activities and topics, and being recognized as a leader in my organization.

    Q11: What has surprised you in the past five years related to systems engineering?

    What has surprised me in the past five years is how much systems engineering has evolved and the realization, by some leaders, that systems engineering is needed as the cornerstone of any system development.

    Q12: What job title have you had other than “Systems Engineer?”

    I’ve had “Systems Engineer” included in my title most of my professional career. I’m a Systems Engineer by training and at heart.  Most recently, my title is “Consulting Software Engineer”, that is Systems Engineer of software systems.

  • Interview with Peter Graham, ASEP

    by Courtney Wright | Sep 05, 2021

    SEP Interview Template 2021 - Peter Graham photoThis interview was conducted in 2021.

    Q1: Describe your current position/role.

    I am a systems engineering consultant at The Energy Systems Catapult. My main responsibility is helping stakeholders in the public sector, primarily UK government departments, understand why and how to take a systems approach to solving problems around the UK energy system transition for net zero greenhouse gases.

    Q2: What are one or two of your proudest professional accomplishments?

    1. In 2019 I started my own business consulting in systems engineering. This was a calculated risk and a significant challenge. Over time, this became a genuine enabler to grow as both a person and a systems engineer. I increased my professional network, explored new challenges, and invested in my own personal development (including progressing to ASEP). I know I wouldn’t have achieved these things without the drive and opportunity of having my own business.
    2. I co-authored and presented a paper for the INCOSE UK Annual Systems Engineering Conference (ASEC) in 2020 called ‘Harambe: The Only Way to Net Zero’. I didn’t consider such an endeavor in the past but the learning process and the hard work was ultimately rewarding if a little cathartic at times. I’m proud to have an output that is available in the public domain and may go on to influence or inspire some activities that are related to its content.

    Q3: What is the biggest challenge you face as a Systems Engineer?

    Getting stakeholders to understand the concepts and principles of tackling problems with a systems perspective. Examples include subject matter language barriers or conflicts in working between problem space and solution space. In extreme cases, there is an active push back on taking a systems engineering approach because there is perceived to be no time and/or money. It is challenging to convince some stakeholders of the benefits that are afforded by systems engineering. We could do with more “off-the-shelf” and bitesize examples as a community to help overcome this.

    Q4: What advice do you have for individuals starting their career as a Systems Engineer?

    Stick to the fundamental rule of always following your passion. It can be important to pay attention to trends in industry, skills, markets but don’t let those be the main drivers for your career decisions. Do what you love now, and the rest will fall into place over time. There is plenty scope in systems engineering to have a full and varied career which evolves over time.

    Q5: How do you continue to learn about SE? What professional development activities do you do?

    I am the chair of the Energy Systems Interest Group which gives me regular engagement with INCOSE UK and its members. I am also a member of the MBSE interest group. In addition, I attend ASEC every year which helps networking and staying on top of the latest activities across the systems engineering community. Aside from that, I try to find the time to advance my knowledge through webinars or training courses or reading literature such as the INCOSE UK ‘Don’t Panic!’ series of books. Lastly, I find the volume and quality of online resources (e.g. SEBoK) ideal for continual learning. The challenge therefore, is reduced to finding self-motivation and time.

    Q6: What are the next career goals you want to achieve?

    Achieving CSEP is my next milestone. Beyond that, I’d like to achieve CEng status which is also now offered by INCOSE UK. I also have a growing desire to contribute to systems engineering literature but I’m still working out in what form that would be and what level of commitment would be required.

    Q7: What are some of your hobbies/interests outside of work?

    I enjoy all forms of sports and actively participate in triathlon, golf, football and mountain biking. I also really enjoy live music and play the drums in an indie-rock band. I have a love of the outdoors too and find hill-walking or open water swimming is best to get me immersed in nature. It’s surprising that I can still claim these things as I have two young children who also occupy a lot of my time in the most amazing ways.

    Q8: Why did you decide to get the SEP certification?

    I felt I needed to consolidate my status as a systems engineer and demonstrate some credibility for my career path and personal achievements. Almost all other professions offer a similar step and, generally, the high performing people want that recognition (and generally it’s rewarded in other professions). The SEP initiative offers a great pathway for systems engineering practitioners and my hope is that as systems engineering continues to grow, so does the presence and recognition of SEP.

    Q9: How does the SEP certification impact your professional career?

    In some ways the impact is internalized. I don’t sense that industry nor individuals actively seek this out yet I feel more confident and more credible within myself when putting forward thoughts and/or arguments around systems engineering. The nature of achieving any level of SEP means you need to pass the knowledge exam and without doubt the push to achieve this has helped me understand systems engineering practices and processes much better than I would have if I hadn’t embarked upon SEP.

    Q10: What has surprised you in the past five years related to systems engineering?

    There are two surprising things emerging. One is how instantaneously the scope of problems, complexity and interoperability has lent itself to a systems engineering approach. So, the original concepts and methodologies of what we now know as systems engineering are becoming more and more relevant over time and significantly so in the past 5 years. The other major surprise is the recognition that systems engineering is receiving from those outside of the community e.g. non-practitioners, other industries, academia, and public sector. In the UK at least, this appears to be driven by large-scale, complex problems such as achieving net zero greenhouse gases by 2050 or the transition to autonomous vehicles.

    Q11: What job titles have you had other than “Systems Engineer?”

    Laser systems engineer, production team lead, and graduate technologist.

    Q12: Are there any other final comments you would like to make?

    As a community of system engineering practitioners, we need to consider what the future holds, what sets us apart from others, and what is value-adding about systems engineering. The challenges I mention in Q3 are – in my opinion – a real barrier to adopting systems engineering on a larger scale. In doing so, we must remain pragmatic that it’s not a “one-size fits all” situation; so there may be occasions where systems engineering isn’t the most suitable approach.

  • Interview with Clement Smartt, CSEP

    by Courtney Wright | Sep 05, 2021

    The following questions are from an interview in 2014:

    Q1: Describe your current position/role.

    Dr. Smartt holds an undergraduate degree in Applied Mathematics from Texas A&M University, a Master’s degree in Applied Mathematics from Southern Methodist University (SMU) and a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering with a Systems Engineering research focus from the University of Texas at Arlington. He is currently a research scientist at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) focused on Systems Engineering. He performs systems engineering research, writes journal and conference papers documenting his SE research, and performs capability assessments on systems.

    Q2: What are one or two of your proudest professional accomplishments?

    Two of Dr. Smartt’s proudest professional accomplishments include an accomplishment applying Systems Engineering and an academic research accomplishment. Dr. Smartt’s applied accomplishment came during his time as the technical lead for the capability assessment of a major ISR platform. On this effort he applied Systems Engineering analysis techniques and quantitative rigor to develop a revolutionary technology investment roadmap that recommends investments with high ROI that had not previously been identified in past assessments.  Secondly Dr. Smartt conducted empirical academic research in Systems Engineering, conducting surveys and presenting findings from the analysis of the survey results in his dissertation and in a conference paper entitled “Exploring Beliefs about Using Systems Engineering to Capture Contracts” for the 2014 Conference on Systems Engineering Research.  Through this work, Dr. Smartt was able to provide statistical evidence supporting the validity of certain beliefs about how to use Systems Engineering on proposals.

    Q3: What is the biggest challenge you face as a Systems Engineer?

    Dr. Smartt believes that the biggest challenge he faces as a SE is the lack of empirically based guidance to perform the Systems Engineering tasks. Lots of lessons learned, rules of thumb, and best practices exist in SE.  There is some very serious and promising research over the last several years that is beginning to really examine the effectiveness of Systems Engineering.  More research along these lines is needed.

    Q4: What advice do you have for individuals starting their career as a Systems Engineer?

    Dr. Smartt recommends a strong education and work experience in a technical domain, with a class or two as an introduction to Systems Engineering.

    Q5: How do you continue to learn about SE? What professional development activities do you do?

    Dr. Smartt attends SE conferences, writes SE papers, performs SE research for GTRI and, on a daily basis, practices mentoring and introducing others to Systems Engineering concepts and practice.

    Q6: What are the next career goals you want to achieve?

    Dr. Smartt has a goal to serving as a project director on a multi-million-dollar Systems Engineering effort to gain further insight into the effectiveness and scalability of particular Systems Engineering processes.

    Q7: What are some of your hobbies/interest outside of work?

    Dr. Smartt has a passion for roller coasters and independent films.

    Q8:  Are there any other final comments you would like to make?

    Dr. Smartt believes that, as a general rule, modern systems are highly complex, and feels that Systems Engineering provides a set of technical and management process to tackle this complexity and provides an interface between technical and business disciplines.

    In 2021, we reached out to Mr. Smartt to answer more questions:

    Q9: Why did you decide to get the SEP certification?

    I thought that it would help me advance in my career and help me get promoted.

    Q10: How does the SEP certification impact your professional career?

    It makes me a more desirable member to add to a project team. Including this in my bio in proposals may also help the organization I work for win contracts.

    Q11: What has surprised you in the past five years related to systems engineering?

    I have been surprised by how much progress has been made in advancing open system architectures. I am also pleasantly pleased to see the full-on DoD embrace of digital engineering (including model-based systems engineering) by very senior, influential leaders.

    Q12: What job titles have you had other than “Systems Engineer?”

    Research Scientist, Senior Research Scientist, Principal Research Scientist, Branch Chief

  • Interview with Ramakrishnan Raman, ESEP

    by Courtney Wright | Sep 04, 2021

    RamkiThis interview presents information from 2014 and updates from 2021.

    Q1: Describe your current position/role.

    2014: Dr. Raman is currently a Practice Head, championing Knowledge Based Development in his organization.  He coaches product development teams across multiple businesses, ensuring robust optimal architecture/design of complex systems and systematic closure of prevalent knowledge gaps through rapid learning cycles in presence of uncertainty and variability. He also champions core platforms and core architectures and systematic/strategic reuse practices.

    2021: I am currently Principal Systems Engineer at Honeywell. In this current role, I serve as a Technology leader driving strategic technology areas across multiple Centers of Excellence (COEs) in Aerospace. I lead an organizational level technology leadership council, comprising senior technologists towards influencing and driving technology strategically in the organization. I serve as Systems Engineering and Software Architecture technical leader, ensuring overall architecture design robustness for complex systems. Further, I also lead the adoption of Artificial Intelligence - Machine Learning in complex cyber-physical systems.

    Q2: What are one or two of your proudest professional accomplishments?

    2014: Dr. Raman is involved in developing systems in very diverse areas.  He has had a lot of technically complex subjects to resolve, and he is proud of his involvement in overcoming the challenges. In recent times, Ramakrishnan has been instrumental in driving significant transformational initiatives in his organization. These initiatives had to be driven with significant responsibility in the change transformation, but very little authority. Ramakrishnan is also the first CSEP from India.

    2021: I received the INCOSE Outstanding Service Award in 2016 for sustained outstanding and significant contributions towards the growth of systems engineering awareness, adoption, and practice in INCOSE and India. The Editorial Board of Systems Engineering journal had selected my paper "Decision learning framework for architecture design decisions for complex systems" (the paper is based on research done as part of my doctoral thesis work,  and co-authored with my thesis supervisor) to be among the best from those published in 2019.

    Q3: What is the biggest challenge you face as a Systems Engineer?

    2014: Driving change, in the way engineers think about a problem and architect/design the system, has been one of the biggest challenges for Dr. Raman. Other challenges include meeting the ever-shortening project lead times, ever increasing complexity of system-of-systems, and dynamically adapting to ever-changing situations.

    2021: Challenges are what makes a systems engineer learn, and a positive approach to each challenge invariably leads to the possible solutions

    Q4: What advice do you have for individuals starting their career as a Systems Engineer?

    Dr. Raman advice to individuals starting their careers as Systems Engineers is to keep an open mind, look at the big picture, and try to keep things simple. Systems Engineers need to strive to arrive at the simplest workable solution for complex problems, by finding the right questions to ask and right problems to solve.

    2021: To reiterate, systems thinking and “big picture” perspective are the distinguishing value-added considerations that the systems engineer possesses—factors which individual discipline engineers might often lack. Systems engineers develop the power of abstraction as applied to multi-disciplinary knowledge, but aptitude of science, engineering and mathematics helps.

    Q5: How do you continue to learn about SE? What professional development activities do you do?

    2014: Dr. Raman is active in the local INCOSE chapter. He interacts with multiple people in industry and academia.  Ramakrishnan teaches part-time on a Masters Engineering Program on Avionic Systems (one semester per year).  As part of teaching, he has to keep up with the latest thought processes and trends in systems engineering so that he can bring that to the classroom.

    2021: I continue to actively participate in professional societies, including INCOSE, IEEE and SAE.  I am currently the Assistant Director – INCOSE Asia Oceania Sector, where I work along with Sector Director and Chapter Presidents to further INCOSE vision, mission and goals. I am actively engaged in prestigious international conferences, where I have delivered invited/ plenary talks, and chaired tracks. I have also been the Technical Program Chair for international conferences including 2016 & 2019 Asia Oceania Systems Engineering Conference, and 31st  INCOSE International Symposium. I actively interact with students and faculty in various academic institutions, and am currently Guest Faculty at IIT Bombay Aerospace Department, where I teach engineering masters course on systems engineering.

    Q6: What are the next career goals you want to achieve?

    Dr. Raman would like to continue to progress in Systems Engineering by handling more complex systems and playing a larger role in driving change in the way systems are designed and built.  He would like to capture his learnings to-date in a more formal manner such as a technical paper.

    2021: I aim to contribute significantly towards addressing systems engineering challenges pertaining to engineering of new technologies in complex systems and system-of-systems, specifically on Artificial Intelligence/ Machine Learning.

    Q7: What are some of your hobbies/interest outside of work?

    Dr. Raman likes to read philosophy books and travel to historical places both within India and abroad.

    In 2021, we reached out to Mr. Raman to answer more questions:

    Q8:  Are there any other final comments you would like to make?

    Applying system thinking on every scenario is motivating, and Ramakrishnan would like to continue to progress in that area.

    Q9. Why did you decide to get the SEP certification?

    SEP certification provides the required international recognition for my systems engineering knowledge, education, and experience. I was the first CSEP from India early in 2005, and in 2018 I was the 8th ESEP certified in Asia Oceania Sector.

    Q10. What has surprised you in the past five years related to systems engineering?

    The pace at which systems are being subject to ever increasing footprint of product functionality, inter-connectivity, and differentiation has surfaced many challenges. Now, modern systems are envisioned to emulate and simulate beyond human intelligence to achieve their goals and perform better than their “traditional” predecessors. The need for such modern systems to have enhanced self-awareness, self-control and self-evolution requires enhancements in conventional systems approaches.

    Q11: What job titles have you had other than “Systems Engineer?”

    Knowledge Based Development Practice Leader, Practice Head - Reuse Engineering

  • Interview with Cecilia Haskins, ESEP

    by Courtney Wright | Sep 03, 2021

    SEP Interview - Cecilia HaskinsThe following questions are from an interview in 2014:

    Q1: Describe your current position/role.

    Dr. Haskins is currently an associate professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). She teaches students courses in Systems Engineering and systems thinking, which she considers two distinct parts of the Systems Engineering discipline. Cecilia has taken on large roles with INCOSE where she serves on the Board of Directors as Director for Communications and has been the INCOSE New Chapter Coordinator since 1999. In addition, she has been part of the INCOSE Events Committee since 2004. Cecilia is one of the original 37 INCOSE CSEPs. She took the original six-hour beta exam in 2003 and has just been awarded the Founders Award while attending her 22nd consecutive INCOSE International Symposium in Las Vegas, Nevada.

    Q2: What are one or two of your proudest professional accomplishments?

    Dr. Haskins' biggest accomplishment has been to inspire young engineers as an educator. This opportunity derives from a career move from industry to academia after moving to Norway and allows her the opportunity to pass on the importance of and an appreciation for Systems Engineering. Her classroom is international and stimulating.  It is like having a mini-United Nations teaching environment. She is also extremely grateful for the leadership, friendship, and learning opportunities afforded to her through INCOSE.

    Q3: What is the biggest challenge you face as a Systems Engineer?

    Dr. Haskins' greatest challenge is communication. To expand on Scott McArthur’s keynote address at the INCOSE IS 2014, communication and interpersonal skills are often described as “soft” skills while engineering and design are considered “hard” skills. In practice, most engineers are good at the “hard” skills. These are what they have been educated to do. Often they have little or no training or practice in the soft skills. Even recognizing the importance of these soft skills does little to prepare a Systems Engineer for some of the communications challenges they will face. To paraphrase Scott, these soft skills must be deliberately practiced to build up the scar tissue of experience.

    Q4: What advice do you have for individuals starting their career as a Systems Engineer?

    Dr. Haskins' career has been very atypical. She has always considered herself a Systems Engineer from day one on her first job. If she were to give advice to a new engineer desiring to become a Systems Engineer, she would tell them to be curious and get in touch with their inner three-year-old. Three is when most people learn that magical word “why.” If one is asking why and exploring their first job with curiosity, they are engineering in a systematic way. Cecilia believes in consistently acting this way and to find oneself in a System Engineering job before long.

    Q5: How do you continue to learn about SE? What professional development activities do you do?

    Being in academia is a constant learning experience. Dr. Haskins learns at least one thing from students every day. Students have a different perspective and different ideas. Part of her learning comes with the research she does, which means she reads a lot. INCOSE is also an important source of her good learning opportunities.

    Q6: What are the next career goals you want to achieve?

    Dr. Haskins is very happy in academia.  Her participation in INCOSE will continue. Prior to retirement, Dr. Haskins would like to establish a curriculum and Master of Science in Systems Engineering program at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

    Q7: What are some of your hobbies/interest outside of work?

    Dr. Haskins enjoys crime novels, travel, and spending time with her growing family.

    Q8:  Are there any other final comments you would like to make?

    The 25th anniversary INCOSE symposium will be held in Seattle, Washington next year. Dr. Haskins plans to be there, and she hopes each SEP considers going as well to enjoy the advantages of networking with each other.

  • Interview with Wayne Biden, CSEP

    by Courtney Wright | Sep 02, 2021

    SEP Interview - Wayne Biden PhotoThe interview presents information from 2014 and updates from 2021:

    Q1: Describe your current position/role.


    2014 - Wayne is a Combat Systems Architect and a Systems Engineering manager for the group he works in. He has been with Thales for 25 years. In his role, Wayne is responsible for ensuring changes made to the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) Adelaide Class Frigate (FFG) Combat Systems are robust and satisfy legacy and new customer requirements, safety standards, fitness for purpose expectations, and environmental regulations.

    2021 - I am the Systems and Specialty Engineering Manager for the business unit I work in.  I have been with Thales for 32 years.  In my role, I am responsible for ensuring that the Systems and Specialty (Safety, ILS, Cybersecurity) engineering capability is aligned to deliver the projects to their customers, ensuring resourcing, tool, practice and process are optimized.

    Q2: What are one or two of your proudest professional accomplishments?

    2014 - Wayne was responsible for designing upgrades to the “identification friend or foe” (IFF) system for the RAN FFG to integrate the system with the Combat Management System. He was also responsible for negotiating and obtaining agreement with the customer for acceptance of the overall Combat System upgrade as part of a major overhaul of RAN FFG vessels. Not all of the requirements for this system supported straightforward verification – some were ambiguous which made outcomes subject to interpretation, some were too abstract and impossible to fulfill. The project customer, representing the user, didn’t want to change the requirements during contract establishment. Wayne led the effort to negotiate agreement of satisfying users need rather than the explicit requirements as the means of gaining acceptance for completion of the upgrade. Adding complexity to acceptance were problems with legacy systems that impacted successful completion of test activities.

    2021 - In a previous role as Engineering Manager, I was responsible for achieving a resolution between international business units on remediation activities to fulfill a system capability involving an acoustic sensor system for a submarine.  The project and their partner were unable to agree on the problems, nor the path to resolution within the time frame available.  I brought the key stakeholders together and through facilitated workshops prioritization was given to which issues would be resolved and how to enable delivery.

    Q3: What is the biggest challenge you face as a Systems Engineer?

    2014 - Knowing the correct amount of tailoring to apply to any given project or activity. This is something one often learns through experience, since the challenges for each project aren’t the same time to time. It’s often a hard sell to the company as well as the customer. To satisfy the company’s business objectives, management would like the minimum effort (cost) and risk possible, but as a Systems Engineer, you know that risk aversion can only be fulfilled through implementing SE processes and activities. The challenge is to select the correct amount of these to ensure an acceptable level of risk for the project.

    2021 - Including the right amount of resource allocation for specialties.  Often specialties, like safety, security, ILS, etc. get minimal budget.  During projects, when their input is needed it is not often planned or time-aligned resulting in extra effort and schedule delays.

    Q4: What advice do you have for individuals starting their career as a Systems Engineer?

    2014 - Wayne’s advice to an individual starting their career is to: question your understanding of the problem holistically, not just by looking at the requirements. Look at how the customer intends to use the product or service, how they want to maintain it, and how they want to dispose of it. An SE needs a thorough understanding of the customer’s overall needs. As an example, Defense customers often want product support through the end of life, and if this need is not considered early enough in the development, you won’t have a satisfactory product or service at the end.

    Wayne began his career as an electrician, worked for a defense company, then completed an Electrical Engineering degree. In a discipline degree program, one learns techniques for doing detailed research and investigation, but not necessarily to have the “larger picture” view of the Systems Engineer.

    Q5: How do you continue to learn about SE? What professional development activities do you do?

    2014 - Recently completed online refresher course in SE; and does short course training. He attends conferences such as those held by the Systems Engineering Society of Australia (SESA) which is an affiliate of INCOSE; is writing CSEP exam questions for INCOSE SE Handbook V4; and does document research via standards.

    2021 - Currently undertaking online learning and local (company) short training on systems engineering topics including practice and tools. Some of this is extension training (eg. Cybersecurity), some reinforcement.  I attend conferences such as those held by the Systems Engineering Society of Australia (SESA) which is an affiliate of INCOSE.  As the current Chartered Australian Systems Engineer (CASE) manager for SESA, I participate in a number of interviews with Australian systems engineers and learn about the types of systems engineering they perform.

    Q6: What are the next career goals you want to achieve?

    2014 - Wayne plans to teach Systems Engineering theory and practice as part of an in-house program for Thales. He is working toward becoming an internationally recognized SE expert within the company.

    2021 - I am working toward becoming an internationally recognized SE expert within the company.

    Q7: What are some of your hobbies/interest outside of work?

    2014 - Outside of work Wayne enjoys playing football, attending musical theater, bush walking, family outings, camping, and watching motorsports.

    Q8:  Are there any other final comments you would like to make?

    2014 - It’s very fulfilling for Wayne to participate in the extra-curricular activities of Systems Engineering such as attending conferences, working on the SEP exam questions, and conducting training to further develop other SE practitioners.

    2021 - It’s very fulfilling for me to participate in the extra-curricular activities of Systems Engineering such as attending conferences, performing SEP reviews, and conducting training to further develop other SE practitioners.

    In 2021, we reached out to Mr. Biden to answer more questions:

    Q9: Why did you decide to get the SEP certification?

    2021 - I got SEP certification to enable recognition of the standing within the systems engineering profession by external entities (customers, industry) and also for the pride of achieving a benchmark of capability in the profession.

    Q10: How does the SEP certification impact your professional career?

    2021 - It has enabled me to participate within the systems engineering domain with respect and recognition from peers and customers and has enabled my company to delegate responsibility for solution acceptance and sign-off.

    Q11: What has surprised you in the past five years related to systems engineering?

    2021 - There has been a greater push to systems of systems engineering involving autonomous equipment focusing on large amounts of information acquisition for consumption, processing and use.  Also, the move to digital twins and greater model-based simulation of systems for risk reduction and ongoing system support.

    Q12: What job titles have you had other than “Systems Engineer?”

    2021 -

    • Requirements Engineer
    • Combat System Design Authority
    • Systems Engineering Manager
    • Engineering Manager
    • Systems and Specialty Engineering Manager
  • Interview with Laurie Nasta, CSEP

    by Courtney Wright | Sep 01, 2021

    SEP Interview 04 - Laurie Nasta photoThe following questions are from an interview in 2014:

    Q1: Describe your current position/role.

    Laurie is a senior systems engineer for a major defense contractor in the Washington D.C. Area.   She supports a Government IT program in a governance role, where she performs requirements analysis, architecture implementation, strategic planning, and outreach to the larger IT user community.

    Q2: What are one or two of your proudest professional accomplishments?

    One of Laurie's proudest accomplishments was when she made a convincing argument, backed by systems engineering analysis, to cancel a program that was duplicating what an active program already effectively performed. She faced tremendous resistance, from both inside her organization and outside, to keep the other program alive. No one ever likes to see work eliminated, but this decision, while difficult, saved the Government (and therefore the U.S. taxpayers) millions of dollars.

    Another example was when Laurie was working in Configuration Management (CM) and Logistics.  She had a boss who had no idea what she did, or what the value of her role was as Lead Engineer on the program. Laurie educated her boss on the importance of CM and how involving CM earlier will save a program time and money.  Her boss allowed her to implement early CM audits, which uncovered a major defect at Preliminary Design Review (PDR), which would have been very costly to correct later.  Correcting the defect delayed the completion of PDR for a month, but reduced cycle time in the operational program from three weeks to three days.  Afterward, her boss told Laurie, “You were right – it was worth it!”

    Q3: What is the biggest challenge you face as a Systems Engineer?

    The biggest challenge Laurie faces is when she knows something is wrong, but it may not be politically correct or accepted to say so.  A Systems Engineer has to have the integrity to stand up for their convictions and get the point across.

    Q4: What advice do you have for individuals starting their career as a Systems Engineer?

    Laurie advises new Systems Engineers not to get stuck in a rut doing the same thing.  Instead, gain experience in multiple areas to truly understand what it means to be a Systems Engineer.  Do not knock the approach of “learning by doing” as experience is the best teacher!

    Q5: How do you continue to learn about SE? What professional development activities do you do?

    Laurie continues her professional development by continuing to add certifications (she has five at this time), attends conferences (she has presented at several), taking advantage of the wealth of on-line learning resources, and participating in other related associations (such as the Innovative Solutions Consortium).  Laurie was also the president of the Washington Metropolitan Area (WMA) Chapter of INCOSE during 2012-2013.

    Q6: What are the next career goals you want to achieve?

    Laurie is working to obtain her INCOSE ESEP certification.  She wants to have a research paper accepted at the INCOSE conference and stay gainfully employed in a rewarding and interesting job!

    Q7: What are some of your hobbies/interests outside of work?

    Laurie enjoys bike riding, Pilates, yoga, karaoke, and keeping up with her teenage boys and their activities.

    Q8:  Are there any other final comments you would like to make?

    Laurie encourages young Systems Engineers to find a mentor they respect that they would like to emulate to help them excel in their careers.  Experienced engineers need to find ways to get connected with younger engineers. It is a challenge because of hectic schedules, but very important. Do not be afraid to fail because that is how we learn. If one does not learn from their mistakes, they are doomed to repeat them!

    In 2021, we reached out to Ms. Nasta to answer more questions:

    Q9: Why did you decide to get the SEP certification?

    First of all, I was in the original 'beta' class for the earliest SEP tests; the test was over 400 questions, and we were given 8 hrs.; I finished in 4 or 4.5 hrs.  At this point in my career, I had been doing systems engineering work but was called by different names:  logistics analyst/engineer, configuration management analyst/engineer, and program management analyst.  But I was doing technical work on submarine communication and combat systems.  However, I found that those other 'titles' were often construed as administrative, or non-technical.  I felt I had experienced the whole systems engineering life-cycle in the many programs I supported, and understood multiple areas of SE and could demonstrate my knowledge to prove it.  So, while others, including my manager at the time were hesitant to take the test, I felt it could truly demonstrate my knowledge and experience was more than my job titles.  I passed that initial test (believe I was CSEP #47), and continued to demonstrate my knowledge, experience, and leadership by being certified as an ESEP a few years ago.  I also passed the Acquisition Extension, which is no longer offered as an exam/certification, which has also demonstrated my knowledge and experience in this specialized domain as well. 

    Q10: How does the SEP certification impact your professional career?

    Being among some of the first SEPs in the field, initially it had more intrinsic value then overt career benefits.  I had 'bragging rights' and was sometimes cited as one of a few certified SEs in the company.  It also gave me confidence, and I used my platform as a certified SEP to persuade others of the certifications value.  I can remember working in a government program office and managing to persuade two of my government customers that they should get certified.  I would say it has only been in more recent years -- maybe last 10 or so, that I have really seen job requirements actually called for CSEPs or ESEPs.  I have also advocated to government folks and government HR folks to recognize it from an equivalency perspective for some government engineering positions, but that is a hard field to plow.  Would love to see INCOSE do more to convince the government agencies we SEs support recognize the certification in a meaningful way, especially for those of us who are non-traditional (traditional = education) SEs.

    Q11: What has surprised you in the past five years related to systems engineering?

    I would say that the recognition of SEs importance in many more domain areas than the longstanding DOD/military/aerospace.  Also, that the need for good SE just seems to continue to increase as the complexity of systems increase, as well as world problems/crises.  It bodes well for the profession.  I also am heartened to see more focus on the 'soft skills' side of SE and the rise of SE competency models for use in hiring and advancement.  Sadly, there is still a huge gap in the HR world on what an SE is, and how they can help projects....we are not coders, modelers, Systems Admins, etc...there are some SEs that might have these skills or do these types of functions, but it does not represent the full nature of a trained SE, esp a certified one with experience in multiple SE disciplines.  This is another area where an INCOSE public relations campaign can change a world of perspectives. 

    Q12: What job titles have you had other than “Systems Engineer?”

    In earlier response I noted some of those other titles, some of which came with other certifications (e.g. PMP, Agile), but to reiterate:  Project Manager (PM), PM analyst, Acquisition Engineer/Analyst, Systems Analyst, Configuration Management Manager/Analyst, Logistics Engineer/Analyst, and Supportability Engineer.  But my favorite title is MOM; and, yes, SE has helped me be a better Mom too!