Saturday, May 31, 2014

Upcoming Membership Meeting: The Role of Systems Engineering in Agile Software Implementation Teams

Meeting Information 
Speaker: Phyllis R. Marbach 
Date: July 14, 2014
Time: 5:30pm to 8:00pm
Location: TBD 


Systems engineering is an interdisciplinary approach and means to enable the realization of successful systems” as defined in the INCOSE Systems Engineering handbook. When software development teams apply agile software methodologies such as scrum, test driven development and continuous integration (collectively referred to as “Agile software development” hereafter); there are challenges in coordination with traditional systems engineering efforts. This paper, developed by the INCOSE Agile Systems Engineering Working Group, proposes methods for cross-functional teams that include Systems and Software Engineers working on customer “pull” projects to produce software products. This paper defines a proposed Agile SE Framework that aligns with agile software development methodology, and describes the role of the Systems Engineer in this context. It presents an iterative approach to the aspects of development (requirements, design, etc.) that are relevant to systems engineering practice. This approach delivers frequent releasable products that result in the ability to absorb changes in mission requirements through collaboration between systems engineers and software engineers. The Agile SE Framework defines a way to scale agile from individual agile software teams with a few members to large projects that require a planned architecture and coordinated efforts.

Speaker Bio

Phyllis R. Marbach is a senior software engineer for Boeing Defense Space and Security (BDS).  Phyllis has over 30 years of experience in aerospace programs such as Satellites, chemical lasers, the International Space Station, and various propulsion systems. Currently she is a member of Lean-Agile Support Services (LASS), an active Agile Coach for the Boeing Enterprise, a Certified ScrumMaster and a Certified Product Owner.  She has coached Unmanned Air Systems, Radio, avionics, and research programs. Ms. Marbach has an MS degree in Engineering from UCLA.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Job Opportunity: Sr. Systems Enigneer at Zoll Circulation, San Jose, CA

A recruiter is in search of a Sr. Systems Engineer for their client Zoll Circulation located in North San Jose.

Zoll Circulation is a 200 person public company developing an endovascular hypothermia balloon catheter system called the Thermogard XP System. Endovascular therapeutic hypothermia (lowering core body temperature before and after the procedure) can minimize damage from stroke or heart attack and may also result in reduced inflammation and enhance tissue healing.They are looking for experience with software controlled/electronic medical devices.

Would you, or someone you know, be interested in hearing more? Please contact David Obad at

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Systems Engineering Transformation Caucus Projects and Planning for the INCOSE International Symposium

The Systems Engineering Transformation Caucus is initiating a spectrum of projects to develop detailed implementation of Transformational Systems Engineering (TSE) practice and to demonstrate the value of TSE in a variety of practical contexts.  Most of these projects are in the formation stages and there are opportunities for individuals to join these efforts and make real contributions to the systems engineering practice.  You will note that most of the projects draw from more than one focus group within the caucus.  At the upcoming INCOSE International Symposium, members of the various project teams will be describing their projects and discussing them with members of the larger INCOSE community.  The projects include:
  • Situation Awareness: 
    • Situation Awareness supports TSE practice from the beginning of a development project when SEs must choose which SE practices to implement (Situation Analysis), through later stages of the lifecycle when SEs need to identify emergent problems with a project's practice practice, diagnose such problems and intervene to get a project back on track.
    • Team Members:  Dean White, Dorothy McKinney, Nirmal Iyengar, George Sawyer, Lee Amon, Hillary Sillito (UK), Duane Hybertson, Amanda Foo
  • Micro-Encapsulation of Design Thinking:
    • Classically, Design Thinking teams are small.  The objective of Micro-Encapsulation is to create a component for the TSE Architecture that allows this practice to be used as a "plugin" for a larger project structure.  The purpose of the project is to bring the benefits of Design Thinking practice to much larger projects.
    • Team Members:  Jean Souza, Robin Reil, Uhlrich Barnhoefer, Scott Workinger
  • TSE Interfaces:  
    • This is a TSE infrastructure project.  It's objective is to develop interfaces for "plugging in" TSE practices and practice components into the larger TSE Practice environment.  This project relies on an approach for bringing agility into the SE project environment developed by Rick Dove and other members of the INCOSE Agile SE Working Group.
    • Team Members:  George Sawyer (New Hampshire), Carol Graham, Rollie Olson, Scott Workinger
  • Group Flow:  
    • In Agile Development and Design Thinking, it has been observed that often, there are moments when a project team as a whole, demonstrates the "Flow" phenomenon.  This state is characterized by high productivity, high creativity and euphoria.  This phenomenon has also been observed in elite combat teams and championship sports team.  The purpose of the project is to develop a set of practices that facilitate initiating and sustaining Group Flow on a consistent basis.
    • Team Members:  Steve Kropp, John Gantner, Cindi Reyes (Albuquerque)
  • TSE Analysis of Systems of Systems (SoS) Practices:  
    • The INCOSE SoS Working Group developed and conducted a survey of SoS Engineering practices with support of the SE Transformation Caucus.  This project is intended to supplement the SoS Working Group analysis by applying Transformational Thinking techniques to the analysis.
    • Team Members:  Carol Graham, Rollie Olson, Scott Workinger
  • SoS Architectural Pattern Library:  
    • The identification of Architectural Patterns is making a significant contribution to the practice of architecting systems.  While Systems of Systems Architectural Patterns exist, they have not been generally identified and collected into a pattern library.  The purpose of this project is to develop a SoS Architectual Pattern Library. 
    • Team Members:  Ray Deiotte (Colorado Springs) (Ray could use some assistance.  Does this project interest you?)
  • Extending Agile to Large Project Teams:  
    • The "Sweet Spot" for agile development teams is usually held to be 12 members or less.  However, individuals such as Phyllis Marbach have been investigating and publishing practices that allow Agile practice with teams as large as 80 individuals.  Her approach has been to combine Agile techniques with classical systems engineering methods.  The purpose of this project is to further the work of extending Agile development practices to large teams by identifying and overcoming the barriers to large scale Agile practice.
    • Team Members:  Phyllis Marbach (Seattle), Amanda Foo, Andrew Tisdale
  •   TSE Business Model Analysis:
    •   Classical Systems Engineering assumes a "contracted development" business model.  While this model applies well to many important situations, it is not applicable in others, such as consumer electronics and Web Services.  This has limited the expansion of SE to industries outside Defense, Aerospace, and Biomedical.  The purpose of this project is to define the crucial characteristics of a spectrum of business models that are compatible with various TSE practices.
    • Team Members:  Lee Amon
  • Organizing for TSE: 
    •   Classical SE is typically applied in a hierarchical business organization.  However, some TSE practices such as Agile Development are largely ineffective in an organization where most significant decisions must be referred up the chain of command.  The purpose of this project is to identify the organizational characteristics needed to support a spectrum of TSE practices.
    • Team Members:  Lee Amon
  • Kanban Board for the Caucus:  
    •   A Kanban Board is an important tool in managing Agile development because it creates visibility for team workflow in relation to project objectives and certain components of system architecture.  A Kanban Board is one artifact that is potentially useful in supporting Group Flow.  As a caucus, we face collaboration challenges that involve coordinating the work of many highly capable people whose efforts are often available in thin slices of time at irregular intervals.  This situation mirrors challenges in many other organizations, including INCOSE, itself.  The purpose of the project is to establish a Kanban Board for the caucus, analyze its effectiveness and tune it to our needs.
    • Team Members:  Amanda Foo, Clark Ince
  • The Energy - Water Nexus: 
    • The Front Range Chapter of INCOSE is in the early stages of forming a project to address public policy for the Energy - Water Nexus, a "wicked" problem in a System of Systems context.  Caucus members recently attended a panel discussion on this issue at the meeting of the INCOSE Front Range Chapter, held at the Colorado School of Mines.  The Caucus is supporting the efforts of our colleagues in Colorado. 
    • Team members:
      • Colorado:  William Good (Front Range Chapter President), Neil Snyder, Larry Millikan, Diana Mann,
      • SFBAC:  Scott Workinger, David Mason

Project team members will be presenting projects from the list above on Sunday, June 29, 2014 in a business meeting at the INCOSE International Symposium, in Las Vegas, NV.  The format of the meeting is to have project members present the role and mission of the project, the intended benefits, and how those benefits will be created.  This is an opportunity to connect with interested members of INCOSE, including such distinguished individuals as INCOSE fellows. 

The above is not a closed list.  Other projects are pending, including:
  • Internet of Things (IOT):  Important aspects of this project are a strong SoS emphasis, the need to develop robust architectures for the Internet of Things, and potentially large commercial significance.  Even at this early stage, there is interest in our participation within the Silicon Valley startup community.  We are actively recruiting members for the TSE IOT team.  Does this interest you?  
  • Micro Encapsulating Agile:  This is similar to the Micro-Encapsulation of Design Thinking; however, it focuses upon Agile Development.
  • Modeling and Managing Emergent Behavior:  This effort is an aspect of the Situation Awareness Project; however, it goes beyond the scope of that effort.  It is intended to use a combination of theory and practical data collection to make pragmatic decisions about project practices, including how to choose a strategy to manage emergent behavior on a project.
  •   Other:  Suggestions?

If you are interested in one or more of these projects, or another potential project in the TSE space, please contact your friends and colleagues that are listed above.  Note that while we have a flexible leadership model in the caucus, the nominal leader and co-leaders on a project are typically the first on the list of team members.  You are also welcome to contact

By Scott Workinger, Ph.D.
INCOSE SFBAC Past-President

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Upcoming Membership Meeting: The Art of Integration

Meeting Information
Speaker: Chin-An Cheng
Date: May 12, 2014
Time: 5:30pm to 8:00pm
Location: Room 109/110 (Room location has been updated), Carnegie Mellon University, Silicon Valley Campus (CMU), Moffett Field, CA
Integration is important to systems engineering because most systems fail at the interface that is an integral part of integration.  Integration is intuitive to human and other social animals and yet, most systems engineers do not think much about it.  Integration can be very complex and complicated, it takes many shapes and flavors and yet the essential elements of the integration are the same – relationships between system elements and rules that govern those relationships.  The art of integration is to define and manage the relationships and form a strong bond between various subsystems.  At the end of the presentation, an example of successful system integration will be discussed to illustrate the art of integration.
Speaker Bio
Chin-An Cheng was born in Shanghai, raised in Taiwan, and educated in the United States. He has 38 years experience in both aerospace and commercial companies including Northrop Aircraft Company, Garrett Airesearch Corporation, Western Union, Hughes Aircraft Company, C.A. Devices, Space Vector Corporation, AXA Corporation, and Western Medical Equipment. He recently retired from the position of Staff Control Engineer at Lockheed Martin. 

Mr Cheng has worked on a large variety of systems including: F-5 fighter jets, Boeing 747s, various turbo-machines, TDRSS Satellites, laser weapons and designators, night vision technology, tanks, space sensors, missiles, communication satellites, computer animation and medical equipment. 

Mr. Cheng received a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from UC Berkeley, and an MSME and EME from the University of Southern California.