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A Systems Engineering Entrepreneurship Approach To Complex, Multidisciplinary University Projects

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Systems Engineering And Entrepreneurship

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.142.1 - 12.142.17



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Paper Authors


William Arrasmith Florida Tech

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William W. Arrasmith received his Ph.D. from The Air Force Institute of Technology in Dayton, Ohio in Engineering Physics. He holds an M.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of New Mexico and a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Virginia Tech. He is currently an Associate Professor in the Engineering Systems Department at the Florida Institute of Technology. His research interests include adaptive optics, signal processing, image processing, and applied systems engineering. He worked for 20 years for the United States Air Force as a scientist, engineer, educator, and acquisitions officer prior to his academic career.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A Systems Engineering Entrepreneurship Approach to Complex, Multi-Disciplinary University Projects

Abstract: This paper presents a systems engineering entrepreneurship approach to developing projects at a university that are complex, multi-disciplinary in nature, integration oriented, and that may span departments, colleges, and have long completion schedules. Fundamental systems engineering principles are used to manage cost, schedule, and performance aspects of projects as well as to manage and control project risk. Entrepreneurial principles are used as part of the cost-benefit analysis in project evaluation. As an illustrative example, we present a project to develop an adaptive optics and atmospheric turbulence compensation system for a 0.8 meter optical telescope. A system engineering approach is used to identify and document stakeholder requirements, establish a project baseline, and use a requirements driven methodology to manage and control the project throughout its system development life-cycle. This approach is most suitable for technically complex projects that require collaboration and integration of diverse activities and resources as is often the case for multi-disciplinary projects or activities in centers of excellence or multi- university research initiatives.

1.0 Introduction

The discipline of systems engineering has long been used as a tried-and-true means for controlling, cost, schedule, and performance aspects of complex government and industrial programs. In fact, for many DOD programs, a sound systems engineering approach is a pre- requisite for any successful contractor bid1. At the same time, universities are increasingly undertaking more complex, multi-disciplinary, collaborative ventures that range in scope from establishing “Centers of Excellence” and multi-university initiatives to multi-disciplinary senior design projects—robots, autonomous vehicles, alternative energy projects, and race car projects and competitions to name a few.

Often, the successes, failures, and lessons learned from these projects are passed on from one team to the next by word of mouth alone and no process exists for retaining corporate knowledge, system optimization, or for implementing a spiral development process. Adopting a systems engineering approach for multi-disciplinary, complex university projects would provide long- term stability, a means for integrating the activities of diverse faculty, and a proven approach to managing cost, schedule, and technical aspects of complex university projects/programs.

As an example, we present a systems engineering analysis/approach to providing an adaptive optics and atmospheric turbulence compensating capability for a newly acquired 80 cm telescope at our institution. Adding this capability would increase our telescopes spatial resolution up to 14 times over its current state. This is a highly complex, multi-disciplinary project that involves optics, mechanical engineering, physics, math, electrical and computer engineering, computer science, and systems engineering disciplines.

We present systems engineering processes, tools, and techniques that were used for the spiral development of this project. Some examples include stakeholder identification and needs assessments, development of a concept of operations, feasibility and risk analysis, requirements engineering, functional analysis, and life-cycle planning2. With the entrepreneurship focus, intellectual property, commercialization, marketing, spin-off technologies and return on

Arrasmith, W. (2007, June), A Systems Engineering Entrepreneurship Approach To Complex, Multidisciplinary University Projects Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--3062

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