Monday, July 28, 2014

President's Message

The first half of the year has been encouraging.  We continue to have good turnout at the chapter meetings, the transformation caucus is working to define processes and was well received at the International Symposium in Las Vegas, new members are joining, members are finding employment and other members are getting their certification as Systems Engineering Professionals.  This past month was a bit rocky with summer vacations and the change in venue, the chapter meeting was not as smooth, but we are working up lessons learned in order to be more adaptable in the future.  We are also exploring the option of having satellite locations to be more accessible to our members.  If you have any suggestions on what we can do to encourage more of our members attending, please submit them.

It was my honor to accept the Silver Circle award at the International Symposium.  The award  recognizes the chapter’s efforts to bring value and provide services to our members.  There were several members of the chapter who I would like to thank for their contributions.  First, I want to acknowledge David Mason who did much of the leg work to submit the evidence of the activities that our chapter engaged in and who also has been the Student Division Coordinator.  Gulnara Ghorbanian was our newsletter editor.  Scott Workinger is the organizer of the Transformation Caucus.  Andrew Tisdale was the program coordinator.  When you have the opportunity, please thank them for their volunteer effort.

At the International Symposium, I gave a presentation that was coordinated with George Sawyer on Interfaces for Transformational System Engineering.  A point that was made in the presentation is the need to take a broader view of interfaces.  It should not be limited to the physical, electrical, and functional flow of information between elements in a system but should also address the organizations and people (developers, users, maintainers, etc) involved in the life cycle of the system.  I have been working on conducting a system failure mode and effects analysis of the interfaces between subsystems in the system.  One element that I'm finding troublesome is the use of software of unknown provenance (SOUP).  The system is safety critical and it is imperative that any failure which could result in hazardous situation be identified and mitigated.  Identifying SOUP and understanding its interface/interaction on the system is the first step.  Identifying the organization that developed the software can reduce the unknown risk.  The level of integration of SOUP in the system is quite complex; from development tools to device drivers.  Working through the organization to identify what SOUP is being employed is also challenging.  Some of the software is so familiar to the developers that it is not recognized as SOUP and the interfaces with some software is subtle and can be overlooked.  Fortunately, the organization and all of the engineers are committed to ensuring that our product is safe and effective; so, there is an open exchange of information and full disclosure.  It is an investigation to uncover the software through the design and development documentation, software reviews and interviews with the developers.  These are the interpersonal skills that systems engineers need to develop.

If you have any experience with systems failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA), particularly with regards to SOUP, I welcome your response to this article.

By Rollie Olson
Rollie Olson's Bio

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Highlights of INCOSE’s 2014 Symposium

The heat wave in Las Vegas in late June and early July of 2014 made it very easy for INCOSE members and others interested in systems engineering to choose to spend their time at the Symposium rather than outside in the sun.  This year’s Symposium featured a rich mix of tutorials, papers, panel discussions, working group, and committee meetings.  Several of the meetings and tutorials took place on the weekend before the Symposium formally opened, including an all-day meeting on Sunday for the Transformational Caucus which is led by our San Francisco Bay Area Chapter.

Plenary speakers shared their experiences in applying systems engineering in diverse fields.  If you missed them, you can watch videos of the first two keynote addresses at .  The talk on “Thinking differently about systems engineering problems – dogs, bears and magic numbers” by Scott McArthur was especially engaging (although you have to practice your Scottish listening to get the full value from this talk).  The third keynote was given by Chuck Severance, a professor at the University of Michigan who was one of the first to start teaching a Massively Open Online Course (MOOC).  His talk is not available on the website (at least as of this writing), but he painted a very evocative picture of the changing future of higher education, in which MOOCs will likely be used by students to help them prepare for admission to the best colleges, and be used by colleges to allow them to teach only subjects in which they can add real value.  He envisions a future in which the lower-quality colleges will probably go out of business (because they are too expensive for the value they offer students), and in which students who are more able to learn on their own will have a huge advantage because they can benefit from all of the different forms in which knowledge will be conveyed.

The 2014 winner of INCOSE’s Special Award at the International Science and Engineering Fair, Matthew Hileman, was recognized during the plenary session on the second day of the Symposium.  This picture shows Matthew (right) with the President of INCOSE, David Long (center), and Bill Mackey (left), who led the team of INCOSE judges for ISEF.

One key product given to every Symposium attendee was the new INCOSE Vision 2025: the organization’s vision for how systems engineering can and should contribute to the world and humanity in the future.  If you did not happen to attend the Symposium, you can still get a copy of this Vision document at .

Start planning now to attend next year’s INCOSE Symposium, July 13 – 16, 2015 in Seattle, Washington, and plan to participate in a Transformational Caucus meeting tentatively scheduled on the weekend before (July 11 or 12).  This will be the 25th annual INCOSE Symposium, and it should be a great one!

By Dorothy McKinney

INCOSE Sponsorship at FIRST Robotics

INCOSE sponsored the ‘Judges’ Dinner’ at the ‘For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST)’ final completion for 2014. The dinner was held onApril 24 for 105 judges and 13 special guests. Dinner included recognition and presentations by the founder, Mr. Dean Kamen, and Dr. Woodie Flowers: the National Advisor and Pappalardo Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering at MIT (pictured with Mr. Greg Gorman and Mr. David Mason) the day before the finals were completed.  Dinner also included warming and emotional presentations by several FIRST team members whose lives were significantly changed due to their involvement in FIRST.

INCOSE also presented certifications and a flash memory stick with INCOSE materials to the 149 Deans List awardees.
This year’s winning FIRST Robotics Competition alliance included Team 254; The Cheesy Poofs from San Jose, California, Team 469; Las Guerillas from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Team 2848; the Sparks from Dallas, Texas, and Team 74; Team C.H.A.O.S. ,from Holland, Michigan. 
This year there were 68,175 students on 2,727 FRC teams, across 17 countries participating in 98 Regional and District competitions before reaching the finals in St. Louis. Over 8,000,000 volunteer hours were recorded amongst the teams mentors, coaches, judges, and parents to reach the finals. 

Each Year these team are provided the ‘challenge’, this year in the form of a video, in the January time frame and enter competitions in just six weeks. Below are just a few examples of the variety of solutions these high school students generated during this short period.  

INCOSE SFBAC hopes to sponsor a team within our area. Please contact your Chapter President Rollie Olson or David Mason, Assistant Director for Student Division, INCOSE for more information.

By David Mason, CSEP
INCOSE Assistant Student Division
David Mason's Bio

New Member Spotlight: Mirna Johnson

Mirna Johnson grew up in Miami, Florida and made her way to California 5 years ago, living in San Jose for about 1 year and half. She began her career as a Business Analyst for Accenture after she graduated from the University of Florida with a dual B.S. in Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering in 2008. After two years, she joined Boeing at the the Satellite Development Center rotating among different groups to expand her systems engineering experience by performing satellite testing and being the technical contact for development of UHF payload units. She is the project Systems Engineer at NASA Ames Research Center working on the Air Traffic Management Technology Demonstration (ATD-1). In this position, she is implementing systems engineering processes to research and development projects that are transferring technology concepts to industry and other government agencies. She will be graduating this December from the University of Southern California with an M.S. in Systems Engineering and Architecture. 

The International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) 2014 Summary

The International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) is an annual event sponsored by the Society for Science & the Public, in partnership with the Intel Foundation.  For the last several years, INCOSE has given one of the Special Awards at ISEF to the student project which best reflects the application of systems engineering. Student winners are ninth through twelfth graders who earned the right to compete at the Intel ISEF 2014 by winning a top prize at a local, regional, state or national science fair.

In 2014, ISEF was held in Los Angeles, and the INCOSE team of judges included four INCOSE Fellows (Dorothy McKinney from our SFBAChapter, plus three INCOSE Fellows from the East Coast: Bill Mackey, Chandru Mirchandani, and Jerry Fisher) and five members of the INCOSE Los Angeles Chapter (Dr. Gelys Trancho, David Imbodien, Cate Heneghan, Gina Parodi De Reid, and Michael Dickerson).  The team of judges reviewed the abstracts for several hundred of the over 1600 total projects at the ISEF.  John Walker was kind enough to review the abstracts in advance, and identify the subset for our team of judges to consider, thus making the job of the judges much more manageable.  As they reviewed the projects, our team of judges looked for the following:

  • The project involves characterizing, designing, building, modifying and/or testing a clearly identifiable complex system.
  • The system’s utility to society should also be clearly apparent.  We are looking for something that can be built; modified, or redesigned to provide an appropriate solution to a societal (stakeholder) need.
  • Systems engineering practices should be clearly applied (even if the student does not use systems engineering terminology to describe what they have done).

The winner of the INCOSE award receives $1500, and is invited to the next INCOSE Symposium.  At the Symposium, the winner is given a booth in the exhibitor area, and asked to present his/her project to the Symposium attendees.  Matthew Hileman, the 2014 winner, attended the 2014 INCOSE Symposium together with his mother, and he was recognized in one of the Symposium plenary sessions. 

In addition to selecting the winner of the INCOSE award, the team selects up to 10 honorable mentions.  The INCOSE team of judges also talks to each of the students responsible for the most promising 40 or 50 projects to discuss the goals and value of systems engineering.  Our hope is to inspire these promising students to take an interest in systems engineering as they move forward in their education and their careers.

The winner and honorable mention awardees for 2014 were:

First Award of $1,500
Cube Satellites: Miniature Satellite Design and Operations for Pulsed Plasma System Applications

Matthew Hileman, 16, The Classical Academy, College Pathways, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Certificate of Honorable Mention
Train the Artificial Brain II: Computer-Aided Diagnosis and Treatment Plan of Alzheimer's Disease using Neural Networks

Roma Vivek Pradhan, 17, Friendswood High School, Friendswood, Texas

Voice Integrated Development Environment for People Who Are Blind, Myopia Affected or Have RSI

Diana Marusic, 16, Theoretical Lyceum "Ion Creanga," Chisinau, Republic of Moldova

Electromagnetic Tire Propulsion System

Alexander William Beall, 17, Brunswick High School, Brunswick, Maryland

Development of a Teleoperation Robot

Mina Fahmi Fahmi, 17, Great Mills High School, Great Mills, Maryland

The VP (Ventriculoperitoneal) Shunt Circuit

Jennifer Lauren Cramer, 18, West Linn High School, West Linn, Oregon

The Cooling of Solar Panels to Increase Power Output

Christopher Rafael Botello, 15, John Jay High School, San Antonio, Texas

Optimizing the Utilization of Wind Energy with an Alternative Engineering Design: A Horizontal Dual Motor Turbine, Phase II

Caid Lunt, 17, Weber High School, Pleasant View, Utah

Cones, Chutes, and Coils: Novel Proposals to Ebb Wingtip Vortices

Loren J. Newton, 16, La Sierra High School, Riverside, California

Rain Power

Michael Jose Lopez Chiesa, 18, Saint Mary's Ryken High School, Leonardtown, Maryland

By Dorothy McKinney