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The successful practices of requirements engineering vary between application domains and are characterized by the nature of the application domain. One relatively peculiar application domain is the nuclear energy domain, which is characterized by the long life cycle of power plant operation and construction project, strict control of safety, and collaboration between several stakeholder groups including various branches of technology. We describe the state of the practice of requirements engineering in the nuclear energy domain in Finland on the basis of a descriptive case study focusing on the safety-related automation systems of the nuclear power plants. The results of the study indicate that explicit requirements engineering practices are becoming increasingly important due to the increasing complexity of the technology used, retirement of the older generation of experts, and construction of new power plants along with renewal of the existing nuclear power plants. The challenges of requirements engineering are especially within efficient communication and management of requirements. We highlight challenges that are emphasized by the characteristics of the nuclear energy domain but also discuss the more generic nature of these challenges. The identified challenges are in authority requirements, aging, communication, knowledge transfer, representation of requirements, and tool support.
Date of Conference: Aug. 29 2011-Sept. 2 2011