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Making a case for systems engineering

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1 Author(s)
Jansma, P.A.T. ; California Inst. of Technol., Pasadena, CA, USA

In late 2007, the Systems Engineering Advancement (SEA) Project at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) decided to design a multi-day Systems Engineering Workshop to train systems engineers in the practice of systems engineering. They were determined to avoid the trap of merely giving hours of lectures and presentations that would bore audiences and soon be forgotten. They decided to base the workshop on six detailed ease studies, each approximately 15 pages in length. The topics of the six ease studies were selected to cover a range of types of flight projects - orbiters, landers and rovers, planetary and earth missions, development and operations, spacecraft and instruments, recent past and current. By including this range of projects, they hoped to touch on a broad spectrum of systems engineering situations, issues, and challenges, and to use these to accomplish specific learning objectives. They developed a template for the case studies to ensure that specific areas were addressed in each case study, and to ensure that a ?big picture? view of the mission itself would be presented before getting into the ?meat? of the case, Then questions were designed to ensure that the workshop participants would wrestle with the systems engineering challenges presented, and would understand and absorb the systems engineering skills needed to address them. The workshop also included sessions of ?story-telling? by key Project Systems Engineers and short lecture sessions addressing key topics and concepts. This describes the approach and methodology for designing detailed case studies for use as learning tools for systems engineering training. It describes the planning and development process and the approach for actually utilizing them in a real workshop. It concludes with lessons learned and the results from the recent JPL Systems Engineering Workshop.

Published in:

Aerospace and Electronic Systems Magazine, IEEE  (Volume:25 ,  Issue: 4 )

Date of Publication:

April 2010

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