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Lessons learned using software-assisted systems engineering on large satellite development contracts

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1 Author(s)
Cooper, P.A. ; Ingenuity Res. Corp., Black Forest, CO, USA

Over the years, the world's defense industries have become quite proficient at developing large, complex hardware and software systems. In recent years, the ubiquitous deployment of personal computers has changed the way we work. Additionally, took designed to facilitate systems engineering have recently matured enough to start having a major impact on many major systems development efforts. Finally, the government's faster-better-cheaper acquisition philosophy has started driving prime contractors to a concurrent engineering approach toward systems engineering. This confluence of experts is has had unexpected impacts on both the flexibility and rigor of requirements management processes. While the maturing requirements and design took hold great promise in maintaining requirements traceability throughout the design process, the widespread use of desktop computing systems has inadvertently lulled many experienced systems engineers into sloppy processes because it now appears to be a simple matter to make a requirements change in a softcopy of a requirements document. Without strong process and management support, requirements changes inevitably start being derived in a broad spectrum of incompatible took and formats. This author is currently participating in the design phase of a major classified government satellite development effort. As an integral member of an extremely experienced requirements management team (boasting over 150 years of combined experience in the defense industry), this author has had the opportunity to watch the team navigate straight into many of the systems engineering potholes created when talented engineers implement concurrent engineering using a variety of tools without a consistent process framework. This paper, therefore, specifically addresses process and implementation challenges that arose when establishing a software-assisted concurrent-engineering approach on a large satellite development contract.

Published in:

Aerospace and Electronic Systems Magazine, IEEE  (Volume:21 ,  Issue: 5 )