Systems Engineering: Course Details

This course is taught with a combination of formal presentation materials, discussion, in-class exercises, and a team project performed by the course registrants.  The instructor provides practical examples and lessons learned from his own experience in terms of what works and what doesn't work in informal discussion that is tailored to the needs, interests, and abilities of the course participants. 

Specific course topics include:

Program Introduction:  The introductory section provides an overview of the course topics, exercises, and responsibilities of the attendees to set the stage for the material and activities of the course.

Introduction to Systems Engineering:  This section provides an overview of Systems and Systems Engineering, the System Project Life Cycle, Terminology, the Systems Engineering Process, and the use of Systems Engineering Processes in Software Development.

High-Performance Systems Engineering Teams:  This section introduces the concepts of high performance teams and their application to Systems Engineering.  Due to the size and complexity of space systems, teamwork is an essential element of any successful project.  Several engineering specialties have been developed over the past decades, including reliability, maintainability, quality assurance, and human factors.  Each has an important role in determining the complete requirements set necessary for complex systems.

Defining System Requirements: Unless end user requirements are properly captured, failure is almost certain as the delivered system will not provide the desired features.  This section covers techniques and processes for requirements capture, including development of a concept of operations to assist in defining system requirements.  Use of benchmarking, prototypes, and mockups to assist in elucidating user requirements is also covered.  Requirements and specification documents are described, including the Initial Capabilities Document and the Capabilities Definition Document.

Functional Analysis and Interfaces: Functional Analysis and Interface Definition is a critical process for  systems engineers and managers to understand because the functional architecture that emerges from this work defines the form and structure of the entire system being acquired and determines the structure of the government organization, the contractor organizations responsible for developing the system, the program document trees and the work and product breakdown structures.  As companies move toward more complex, adaptive, and agile systems, getting the functional analysis and interface definitions right becomes even more important. 

System Architecture: Successfully defining and communicating the system architecture requires knowledge of the different representations of architectures, which are covered here, including standards for architecture representations such as the DoD Architectural Framework (DoDAF).

Decision Analysis:  The development of decision criteria and their application to insure that design trades are appropriate and the overall system utility is maximized as a result are a key element of this section.

System Design and Development: This section introduces the concepts of hardware and software design, the system design process, defining and managing system performance parameters, the software development process, and software integration and test, all key to successful system design and development.

Technical Reviews and Audits: Reviews and audits can be a chance to communicate achievements and elicit useful feedback when properly conceived and held, or an ordeal for all concerned.  This section covers the types of reviews and provides advice on how to plan and hold successful and effective reviews.

Configuration Management (CM):  Establishing appropriate baselines and maintaining configuration management are critical activities during development, integration and test. CM establishes and maintains the system integrity throughout the system life-cycle.  This section covers fundamental CM definitions, processes and plans necessary for a successful system development and deployment.

Integration, Verification, and Validation (IV&V): Successful integration of system components brings with it the need to verify that the components are built as specified (verification) and that they meet their user requirements (validation). This section covers the V&V process and the spectrum of tests and evaluations including special tests such as environmental testing, as well as final operational testing of the completed system.

Risk Management:  The active management of risk has emerged as a key ingredient to project success.  This section covers risk management methodology, including technology, cost, schedule risks, and risk management plans.

System Cost and Schedule Estimation and Management:  Maintaining schedule and containing costs have become increasingly important to system success.  Techniques for developing accurate cost and schedule estimates and for managing a project to cost and schedule are covered in this section.

The class project’s objective is to provide practical training in the application of systems engineering and the opportunity to demonstrate the mastery of that material to the level appropriate for certification. The scope includes a design developed to a level of detail so that the cost of the system and all its components can be suitably estimated by the end of the course.  The approach is to form teams and, as a group, develop various assigned documentation for a specified system design to practice concepts introduced in lectures.  Participant teams will use the systems engineering process with the sequential development of concept, requirements, system architecture, and a system design.  Each team is responsible for the research necessary to understand the technologies and engineering disciplines that are required. Each team member will have a major responsibility and perhaps additional lesser responsibilities.  Responsibilities may be shared; however, there shall be a designated lead or owner for each responsibility.

Course Overview

ICS Associates