Systems Engineering Seminar

Model Based Systems Engineering: Using Maxwell's Demon to Tame the "Devil in the Details" that are encountered during System Development

Presented by:
Dave Richardson/Code 592 -
Associate Branch Head

October 10, 2017 - 1:00 pm
Building 8 Auditorium (GSFC)


Physicist James Clerk Maxwell suggested that the second law of thermodynamics might hypothetically be violated by employing a theoretical "demon" with knowledge of how a system worked, even down to the level of molecular flow. Model based systems engineering (MBSE) employs information management systems in the form of structured, rigorous and unambiguous models to understand aspects of system development activities associated system requirements, design, analysis, verification and validation. The value proposition is that a system model, serving a role to enhance insight similar to the one Maxwell envisioned can enhanced team agility and productivity, and bring a cohesiveness to the system over its full project lifecycle. This discussion will explore the concept and value proposition of MBSE, articulate some of the activities GSFC is currently doing to introduce MBSE into its culture, and what it might look like to use MBSE on a project.


Dave Richardson is currently serving as the Associate Branch Head in the GSFC Instrument and Payload Systems Engineering Branch. After receiving mechanical engineering degrees from the University of Rhode Island, Marquette University and the University of Maryland at College Park, Dave joined GSFC in 2006.

Dave started his career in the Facilities Management Division, performing roles for project planning, project design and construction, and program management. While with FMD, Dave developed the Center's first Energy Saving Performance Contract, served as project manager for the Flight Projects Building and helped understand magnetic reconnection by building the MMS cleanroom in B29.

Dave learned a broader view of the Agency as an analyst in the Space Technology Mission Directorate, in 2012, where he contributed to the NASA Strategic Plan and captured the strategic alignment of the STMD technology development portfolio within the context of the Agency's overall strategy.

In 2014, Dave joined the Mission Systems and Analysis Division and the Navigation and Mission Design branch. In 2016, Dave moved in the Instrument and Payload Systems Engineering Branch, where he helps manage the payload and instrument systems engineering work and stewards the systems engineering tools and methods efforts.


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