Systems Engineering Seminar

A Broad Look At Some Of The Non-Technical Systems Engineering Challenges At NASA

Presented by:
Joe Rothenberg
Associate Administrator of NASA for Space Flight in charge of NASA's Human Exploration and Development of Space, Retired

January 7, 2003, 1:00 p.m.
GSFC Building 3 Auditorium


People + Processes + People + Tools + People. -- stir in equal parts and presto you have systems engineering. Yes, having more time since I retired, I have been watching too many cooking shows, but I suspect that most NASA managers would agree, people are the key ingredient of systems engineering, More importantly it has been my experience that there is not the same level of agreement among them on the definition of systems engineering. The difference between systems engineering and systems management gets blurred and often inappropriately interchanged. Across NASA, and Industry, systems engineering has many definitions. These are frequently based on a process or, in some cases, the characteristics of a person. Organizational boundaries, project evolution, engineering discipline complexities, contract structures, and from where in the system one views the system, all lead to a different characterization of system engineering. Based on my experience I will discuss these non - technical impacts on the system engineering role in an organization and provide my views on what is needed to be able to improve the effectiveness of systems engineering in the future.



Joe Rothenberg retired from NASA in December of 2001 and is currently an Independent Consultant. From Jan 1998 until his retirement he was Associate Administrator of NASA for Space Flight in charge of NASA's Human Exploration and Development of Space. Prior to being named the Associate Administrator for Space Flight, he had been serving as the Director of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center since July of 1995.

Prior to joining Goddard in April 1995, Rothenberg served as Executive Vice President of Computer Technology Associates, Inc., Space Systems Division, McLean, Virginia, a position he held from February or 1994 to April of 1995

From 1990 to 1994, he was Associate Director of Flight Projects for the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) at Goddard. In this position, he was responsible for directing all aspects of the HST Project. Rothenberg began his career with Grumman Aerospace in 1964 where he managed the development and operations of the aerospace ground equipment for the Orbiting Astronomical Observatory series of Goddard spacecraft.

In 1983, Rothenberg joined Goddard as Operations Manager for the HST. In April 1987, he was appointed Chief of the Mission Operations Division under the Mission Operations and Data Systems Directorate at Goddard. In September 1989, he was appointed Deputy Director of Mission Operations and Data Systems at Goddard followed by the 1990 appointment as Associate Director for Flight Projects for the HST.

Rothenberg holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering Science and a Master of Science degree in Engineering Management from C. W. Post College of the Long Island University. In addition, in 1997 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology and in 2000 an Honorary Doctorate of Science from C.W. Post. He was recipient of the NASA Exceptional Service Medal in 1990, in 1994 and 2000, he received NASA Distinguished Service Medals, and, in 1995 and 2001 he received NASA Outstanding Leadership Medals and the Senior Executive Service Presidential Rank Meritorious Executive Awards. In 1997, he received the Presidential Rank Distinguished Executive Award. Rothenberg has also received the National Aviation Association Collier Trophy, the AIAA Goddard Astronautics Award, the National Space Club's Nelson P. Jackson Award, and was inducted into the Smithsonian's Aviation Week and Space Technology Hall of Fame.


Return to SE Seminars Home


Systems Engineering Seminar Contacts