1st Edition

Engineering Mega-Systems The Challenge of Systems Engineering in the Information Age

By Renee Stevens Copyright 2011
    254 Pages 49 B/W Illustrations
    by Auerbach Publications

    With their ability to cross traditional boundaries and achieve a level of functionality greater than their component elements, mega-systems have helped corporations and government organizations around the world resolve complex challenges that they otherwise couldn’t address with stand-alone systems. Engineering Mega-Systems: The Challenge of Systems Engineering in the Information Age provides a clear understanding of the engineering of this class of systems—a process that demands consideration of increasing program scale and the rapid change of underlying technologies.

    Written by Renee Stevens, a Senior Principal Engineer at The MITRE Corporation with decades of experience analyzing, engineering, and acquiring large-scale systems for the U.S. Department of Defense and other government agencies, this book explains how the engineering of mega-systems is inherently different from that of large-scale monolithic systems. It supplies the vocabulary and framework needed to explore the issues relevant to mega-systems. This framework then evolves into the Profiler diagnostic tool that helps you understand the nature and context of the system at hand and, on that basis, select the most appropriate processes, tools, and techniques.

    Stevens examines commercial and government applications of mega-systems to provide insight into the contemporary challenges of engineering these systems in three critical dimensions: engineering processes, management processes, and the larger context in which these systems are developed and deployed. Complete with two case studies in engineering mega-systems that illustrate valuable lessons learned and highlight emerging practices, this book supplies the understanding and the tools needed to begin engineering, characterizing, and acquiring mega-systems across multiple dimensions.

    List of Acronyms

    The Trend Toward Large-Scale, Richly Interconnected Systems
    Why This Book?
    Organization of the Book

    Context and Trends
    Changing the Strategic Environment in the U.S. Department of Defense
    The Imperative to Share Information across Agencies
    Enabling Conditions
    Institutional Trends: Enterprisewide, Top-Down Perspective
    Implications for Systems and Programs
    A Look Ahead


    Mega-System Concepts
    What Is a System?

    A Framework for Exploring Mega-Systems
    Basis for the Framework
    Elements of the Basic Framework
    Tame versus Wicked Problems

    Engineering and Acquiring Mega-Systems
    What Is Systems Engineering?
    Mega-System Challenges for Systems Engineers
    Troubled Large-Scale Systems
    Levels of Systems Engineering
    Enterprise Systems Engineering Profiler


    Introduction to Mega-System Case Studies
    A Note about Case Studies
    Approach to Mega-System Case Studies

    Single Integrated Air Picture
    Motivation: Moving from Independent Systems to a Theater-Wide Integrated Capability
    Standing up a System Engineering Organization
    SIAP System Engineering Process
    Building the IABM
    Formalizing the SIAP
    SIAP Mapping to the Systems Engineering Profiler
    Insights for Engineering Mega-Systems

    Developing the Electronic Product Code Network
    The Auto-ID Center
    The Vision: An Internet of Things
    Concept and Technologies
    RFID Design Process and Implementation
    Transition from Research to Commercialization
    EPC Adoption
    EPCglobal Network Mapping to the Extended Framework
    Insights for Engineering Mega-Systems

    Observations from the Case Studies
    Case Study Recap


    The Way Ahead
    Emerging Tenets
    Matching Practice to Circumstances
    An Emerging View of Systems Engineering as a Continuum of Practice
    Refining the Engineering Tenets: A Way Ahead
    An Emerging View of Next-Generation Practice
    Concluding Thoughts

    Multiple Purposes of the Study
    The Profile as an "Uncertainty Map"
    Recommended Practices for Dealing with Uncertainty


    Renee G. Stevens is a Senior Principal Engineer at The MITRE Corporation. She has 30 years of experience in the analysis, engineering, and acquisition of large-scale systems for the U.S. Department of Defense and other government agencies. Her current interests lie in research and practice contributing to the development of an enterprise systems engineering discipline.

    Stevens has developed the well-received Profiler tool for use in characterizing the environment and context in which a system will be developed and will operate. It serves as both a diagnostic tool and the basis for a situational model. Results have been widely briefed to government, academic, and professional audiences. She is applying the model to the assessment of several large-scale programs and is conducting research on innovative strategies and practices to improve the acquisition of information technology systems.

    Stevens received her bachelor’s degree in political science from Hunter College, City University of New York, in 1966, and a master’s degree in public and business administration from George Washington University in 1981. She is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and the Academy of Management.