Engineering Mega-Systems: The Challenge of Systems Engineering in the Information Age, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Engineering Mega-Systems

The Challenge of Systems Engineering in the Information Age, 1st Edition

By Renee Stevens

Auerbach Publications

254 pages | 49 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Hardback: 9781420076660
pub: 2010-07-15
eBook (VitalSource) : 9780429131707
pub: 2016-04-19
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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.

Table of Contents


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


About the Author/Editors

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.

About the Series

Complex and Enterprise Systems Engineering

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
COMPUTERS / Information Technology
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Engineering (General)
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Industrial Engineering