Systems Engineering Seminar

Addressing Systems Engineering Challenges through Collaborative Research

Presented by: Dr. Donna H. Rhodes
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

September 11, 2007, 1:00 p.m.
GSFC Building 3 Auditorium


In recent years, systems engineering has received increased focus and expanded its footprint on a global scale. Many new university departments and programs have been developed in response to higher demand for skilled engineers who can think systemically about complex systems. As a systems community, we see the enterprises in which systems engineering is practiced reaching new levels of complexity. At the same time, the advancement of technology opens new possibilities for conducting engineering analysis, modeling, simulation and design. Additional trends include a more global engineering environment, systems that are more extensively interconnected, and an increase in the velocity of information. With these changes in systems, their environments, and the enabling infrastructure, we have an urgent need for more effective research to advance the theory and practice of systems engineering. Yet, traditional research structures and educational institutions do not easily accommodate broad interdisciplinary systems research. Further, the ability to transition new knowledge and research outcomes to the community of practice is weak; innovations in the mechanisms to do so are essential.

This talk will highlight responsive research strategies and selected research projects at MITís Engineering Systems Division (ESD) that seek to advance the theories, methods, and practices for socio-technical systems engineering. The motivations and key drivers for the research will be discussed, along with contextual influences that shape the overall research structure and the agenda. Brief research overviews will be given on several topics, including systems-of-systems engineering; dynamic tradespace exploration; mechanism for system representation and analysis; collaborative distributed systems engineering; development of systems thinking; and applying systems principles and practices to enterprises. The talk is intended to provide attendees with insight into areas of systems engineering research at MIT ESD, and to further a dialogue on effective strategies for the collaboration of government, industry, and academia on an advanced systems engineering research agenda.



Dr. Donna H. Rhodes is a Senior Lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the Engineering Systems Division, where she is also a Principal Researcher. She leads the Systems Engineering Advancement Research Initiative (SEAri), and is also affiliated with the Lean Aerospace Initiative (LAI). Prior to joining MIT, she had 20 years of experience in the aerospace, defense systems, systems integration, and commercial product industries. She previously held senior level management positions at IBM Federal Systems, Lockheed Martin, and Lucent Technologies in the areas of systems engineering and enterprise transformation.

Dr. Rhodes has been very involved in the evolution of the systems engineering field, as well as the development of several university graduate programs. She is a Past President and Fellow of the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE), and is a recipient of the INCOSE Founders Award and several INCOSE Distinguished Service Awards. She holds a Ph.D. in Systems Science from the T.J. Watson School of Engineering at SUNY Binghamton. Dr. Rhodes has research interests and advises ongoing research projects in the following areas: advanced systems engineering methods; systems engineering leading indicators; defense and commercial systems practices and case studies; value based decision analysis; systems principles and practices applied to enterprises; managing for complexity and uncertainty; systems-of-systems engineering; and strategies for high performing enterprises in the engineering systems context.


Return to SE Seminars Home


Systems Engineering Seminar Contacts