I hope this finds you all well and recovering from Hurricane Irene. What a week for natural weather phenomena—earthquakes, severe thunderstorms with potential tornados, and a hurricane. Thank you all for your support in the local community assisting neighbors and getting the county back up on its feet.
Given the past week’s events, I think it is a good time to think about the environment’s impact on systems. Too often we are so driven to engineer a fantastic system or subsystem that we may lose sight of the greater vision or purpose. How will the environment effect system performance? How will the environment impact our ability to support our system? What is the operating environment – from land? – From ship? Taking the time to thoroughly analyze the environment is a critical step in developing foundational systems engineering documentation such as the context diagram and functional analysis. We must endeavor to spend the time upfront to analyze the environment, ensure requirements analysis addresses the environment adequately, and maintain requirements traceability through test of the system, sub-systems, and support equipment. The consequences of improperly assessing the environment could generate major engineering changes and the ultimate delivery of the new capability.
This past month, I had the privilege to attend an international unmanned systems conference where this very issue was address by DoD leadership. The demand for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities on ships poses a multitude of challenges due to the environment. Adding an unmanned system to a ship that possesses no requirement to host an unmanned system is quite complicated. Integration issues abound, especially when systems to support information flow (e.g. full motion video) may not be mature enough to handle the ever-increasing bandwidth demands. Analysis of the environment plays a critical role in successful integration and decreases the amount of time the warfighter is waiting on a capability to arrive in theater.
I challenge you this month to spend some time thinking about your current efforts’ interface with the environment. What lessons did you learn as you developed your system? Are you sharing those lessons with your junior engineers?
Completely pertinent and relevant, our September luncheon speaker, Dr. Lawrence McGovern, Blue Heron Services is working an INCOSE Working Group project tied to observing the environment: Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS). Come out and see how Unified Modeling Language (UML)/Systems Modeling Language (SML) are being applied on 6 September 1130 at L-3 in Exploration Park. Pizza and beverages provided, $6 members, $8 non-members. RSVP to email@example.com and hope to see you there.
All the best,
Kellie L. Keller
President, Southern Maryland Chapter