Monday, November 30, 2015

President's Message

This year’s election for INCOSE officers is closed but the chapter’s election will soon be open.  We will have two members that will be on the ballot for first time.  Write-in candidates are also welcome.  They will be joining the other members of our Board of Directors to provide a program which promotes systems engineering here in the San Francisco Bay Area.  The monthly chapter meetings are just one way to provide value to our members.  We have discussed conducting workshops on a variety of topics but we need your input on what is of interest.  We are also collaborating with Los Angeles Chapter on a mini-regional conference to be held next year.  This will not only provide a learning opportunity to members who may not be able to make the International Symposium but also an opportunity to share your expertise by publishing and presenting your own paper (see the notice about the Regional Mini-Conference 2016 for more information).  We are also discussing plans for a social event and are looking for members who would volunteer to help organize.

Last month’s chapter meeting “Leveraging Space Resources as a Humanitarian Tool” presented by Allan Sison was well attended at San Jose State University, at the Lockheed Martin satellite location and remotely through GlobalMeet.  We are trying to provide a variety of forums for members to engage.  There were also several San Jose State University students in attendance.

These are just a few of the ways that the chapter works to provide value to members.  There are also the INCOSE central efforts.  

I have attended a couple of the webinars which provide information of current practices in systems engineering.  I found the webinar by candidate for President, Rick Dove, on “The Art of Agile SE” to be quite engaging.  It confirmed an aspect of systems engineering that Ihave always believed to be a central element which is user engagement.  I consider the user to be not only the end user of a system but also the engineering, manufacturing, and service organizations involved in realizing the system.  

Rick pointed out three design quality principles:  Harmony of delight (emotional); parsimony (economic); and requisite variety (functional).  My experience had been that these are: cost; schedule; and function.  While I realized that there was another element at play (for example resistance to change or preference for particular design), I had not identified it until this webinar as the emotional quality.

Another point that Rick made is the expectation of consistency.  Systems need to be evolutionary not revolutionary.  I have some difficulty accepting this.  In my experience with defense and medical devices, this is the case.  But Steve Jobs was quite successful in his vision as a revolutionary that cannot ask what a user wants then develop the product, because by time it goes to market, the user’s wants will have changed. 

Besides offering members information on current practices in Systems Engineering, these webinars also provide members who are certified the opportunity to earn PDUs to maintain certification.

INCOSE provides numerous opportunities for members to exchange knowledge and systems engineering information.  The San Francisco Bay Area Chapter is at the foreground for our members to offer quality professional development.  The chapter endeavors to engage all members and asks for your response to the upcoming election, attending chapter meetings, answering the requests for input on topics of interest and volunteering to support.

By Rollie Olson 

INCOSE SFBAC Blog Seeking Feedback

INCOSE SFBAC is approaching its two year anniversary of having a blog/digital newsletter. During this time we have published nearly 65 articles and have had 2000 views. A typical newsletter consists of a chapter president's update, section updates, and 2-3 other articles relating to INCOSE or systems engineering. 

We are seeking feedback on the blog to see what our membership enjoys about the blog and any suggestions you may have to improve. Please comment below or submit a comment via the "Contact Us" form.

The current Communications Director, Cassi Janakos is moving onto other opportunities at the end of the year and we will be welcoming Olga Jilani as the nominee for 2016 Communications Director.

Thank you for reading the blog! 

Systems Engineering in Retirement

There are many opportunities throughout our society for experienced systems engineers to continue to apply their engineering skills in retirement.  It might be that most of these activities won't have a large impact, and will be primarily for your own entertainment.  But that's not all bad, either.  Studies shows that keeping one's mind active with games, puzzles, learning a new language, etc. is important for seniors, to maintain mental acuity and prevent or delay dementia.  My preference of “games” are Excel, Word, and PowerPoint, and my puzzles are public policy issues in which I have been applying my skills in small to larger activities.

On the small side, online surveys and web sites provide many opportunities to help companies make incremental improvements.  Many online surveys don't satisfy a key requirement:  the range of potential answers they provide is incomplete, and they don't provide a mechanism for the survey responder to provide an accurate answer.  Often, the survey lacks a fill-in answer.  More often, the survey lacks the "not applicable" option, which applies far more frequently than the survey designers seem to expect.  In these cases, I send a message to the survey organization, informing them of their omission; usually, I receive at least a courteous response.

Free wi-fi at coffee houses and stores is another area where a key requirement is sometimes not satisfied:  data transfer speed is sometimes too slow to be usable.  At a popular chain of coffee houses and at a well-known department store, I noticed the wi-fi speed was slow.  I measured it at about 1Mb/s, which is much too slow for any useful web access.  I sent messages to both companies.  The coffee house sent a response that they plan to upgrade the wi-fi in all of their stores by the end of 2015.  I have not yet heard back from the department store.

In a medium scope instance:  The City of Palo Alto wants to make certain streets safer for bicycles.  Their initial solution for our street, somewhat of a thoroughfare for two elementary, one middle, and one high school plus Stanford, would have made driving and even biking on our street very slow and possible even more hazardous.  My opinion was that the solution, transferred from more densely populated towns in Europe, far exceeded the requirements for improved safety on our street.  I expressed that opinion to the planning department.  I don't know if my opinion carried any weight, but the city is now proposing a much simpler and less intrusive solution.

On the larger side, I am interested in public works and public policy issues.  In one instance, I am disappointed with the current high speed rail / Caltrain solution for our Peninsula.  The current plan is that in 2029 - another 14 years from now - all that will be achieved is an electrified "blended" solution using mostly the current Caltrain tracks.  This will not achieve at least what should be three major goals of Peninsula transportation - truly high speed transportation (grade level crossings reduce allowed speeds), less noise (more trains will mean more train horns at those crossings), and reduced automobile traffic impacts (grade-level crossings interrupt traffic flow).  I am revising a PowerPoint presentation to encourage the reconsideration of an elevated solution along the Caltrain right of way, but one that would address the visual esthetics of the solution, to counter some of the primary objections from past years.

Our nation's legislators - at the state level and Congress - also need solutions based not just on platitudes and ideology, but solutions that are based on engineering approaches and data.  Perhaps one could call this, not political science as taught in universities, but "political engineering".  I intend to analyze problems, and then develop, suggest, and discuss with community leaders and legislators politically-engineered approaches to taxation, the Federal budget and debt government regulations, and other issues.

However, our nation certainly has many small to very large problems that need well-engineered solutions for the 21st century, and the insight of retired systems engineers could well help achieve those solutions.

By Mike Forster

Membership Meeting: December 14, 2015

This is an early announcement concerning the 14 Dec chapter meeting.  Scott Workinger will be talking about Transformational Systems Engineering.  We will be trying a new location: Rinconada Library, 1213 Newell Rd, Palo Alto, CA 94303. We will also work on setting up satellite location at Lockheed Martin.  

Introduction to Transformational Systems Engineering

Scott Workinger

In recent years, many of our colleagues have observed that, “There is no one-size-fits-all systems engineering.”  This observation has arisen as the complexities in our world have multiplied and organizations have been experimenting with multiple innovative practices that could, in some sense, be identified as “Systems Engineering” (SE).  Such practices go by a variety of names, such as Model Based Systems Engineering, Agile Systems Engineering, Enterprise Systems Engineering, Design Thinking, System of Systems Engineering, Business Model Engineering, Complex Systems Engineering, Organizational Development and others.  Of course, Classical Systems Engineering, as it has been practiced in the Aerospace and Defense Industries, is not going away.  Each of these practices has been tried successfully in certain situations.  Each is intended to apply a holistic approach to problems with significant scope and extend the reach of Systems Engineering.  Typically, they offer new paradigms.  But these practices vary considerably as do the contexts in which they are normally applied.  Moreover, often, the practitioners do not self-identify as systems engineers.  For instance, to quote an experienced Apple engineer, “Apple doesn’t hire any systems engineers.  However two thirds of the people at Apple are doing Systems Engineering.”
 In 2013, members of the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter (SFBAC) of INCOSE became interested in the problem of describing a “Systems Engineering” that is sufficiently inclusive to embrace all of the practices that offer systems engineering functionality, even though practitioners may not call themselves “SEs.”  At that time, we formed the Systems Engineering Transformation Caucus, a loosely knit organization whose mission was to define a larger body of systems engineering practice and make it more accessible to working engineers.  We refer to this rapidly evolving body of practice as “Transformational Systems Engineering” (TSE).
In October, the Caucus members collaborated to create a themed issue of INCOSE INSIGHT, entitled "Systems Engineering in Transformation."  This issue is intended as a snapshot of Transformational Systems Engineering as it exists at this point in time.  Upcoming SFBAC chapter meetings will discuss various aspects of TSE.  This first meeting will give an overview of Transformational SE as it exists today.  Upcoming meetings will describe a variety of TSE practice paradigms, going into more detail in each focus area.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Event of Interest: BIOMEDevice San Jose

INCOSE members will receive free expo admission when you use source code ‘TC’ when checking out, and will get 20% off conference content when you use promo code ‘DISC20’.

Event: BIOMEDevice San Jose
Date: December 2-3, 2015
Location: San Jose Convention Center, San Jose, CA


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Silicon Valley Engineering Council (SVEC) Open House 2015

The SVEC is hosting their complimentary Annual Open House event! Join them for a complimentary light buffet and an evening of exciting information and engineering camaraderie. Colleagues and spouses are invited to enjoy the festivities. The welcome reception will be from 5:30pm - 7:00pm and presentations will be from 7:00pm - 8:30pm. Register by November 17, 2015.

  • Welcoming Remarks
  • Keynote Speaker: Mahmood Khan, MBA, PMP, BSc
  •    "Future of IOT(Internet of Things): Industrialize and Automate Everything."
  • Report from John J. Kowalchik, VP, Lockheed Martin Space Systems
  •     "Boy Scouts Engineering Explorer Post at Lockheed"
  • Acknowledgement of Sponsors
  • SVEC Discover “E” Outreach
  • Call for Applications for 2016 Scholarships
  • 2016 Silicon Valley Engineering Hall of Fame Inductees Announcement
  • SVEC Engineers Week Banquet, February 2016

Bio of Speaker:
Mahmood Khan has over 18 years of experience in transforming business IT to generate new top line growth, reduce operation costs and improve profit margins. He has held leadership positions at CSC, HP/EDS, IBM-GS as a Client Principal, Practice Director, Solution Architect, and Program/Project Manager. He is a co-founder of G-ESI, an IT Professional Services and training company.

Mahmood is passionate about education and skills training to improving people’s  careers and life.  He has taught software program development and programming language skills development courses at Berkeley,  Santa Cruz Universities and at special events. He is a Board member at San Jose Conservation Corps and Charter School.

From John Kowalchik:
Lockheed Martin in conjunction with the Boy Scouts of America (Learning for Life) operates an Engineering Explorer Post here at our Sunnyvale facility.  This year we had about 50 future engineers and scientists in the program, and we've seen one of our past graduates return as a summer intern this year!  We'd like the opportunity to talk about the program in order to encourage other Bay Area companies to consider Exploring as a potential STEM activity.  The BSA makes all the logistics very easy and we simply administer the program via our staff engineering folks.  It turns out that we're the one and only Engineering Explorer Post in the entire Silicon Valley Monterey Bay area.  We'd like to see more.