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Preparing For Next Generation Systems

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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

Developing Programs for Adult Learners

Tagged Division

Continuing Professional Development

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1178.1 - 12.1178.11



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Paper Authors


John Robertson Arizona State University

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John Robertson is Professor of Microelectronics at the ASU Polytechnic campus in Mesa, Arizona. He was formerly a Director of Research Programs at Motorola. He is a member of the JACMET Technical Advisory Board and participates in a number of programs.

Note: Additional industry authors will be added later. However, they need the paper for their internal approval process.

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Joseph Tidwell Boeing Co.

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Joe Tidwell's career encompasses the Service and Industry. Laterally, he directed university programs for the Boeing Company in Mesa, Arizona. He is now Managing Director for the JACMET training consortium and is heavily involved with national programs to enhance technical workforce development.

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

Preparing for next-generation systems


The paper presents outcomes from a top-down analysis of changes in the business environment and what needs to be done to extend and enhance competitiveness through professional workforce development. The work was done by an industry consortium with academic partners. The companies are system integrators at the top of the supply chain. However, their business structure has changed substantially in the past decade. A substantial amount of work that was once done in-house is now outsourced so they have to deal with a huge range of suppliers and commodity components to assemble ‘systems of systems’. Training programs for technology executives have been used to elucidate the features of complex systems that would benefit from cooperative training and where no provision currently exists. The outcomes include improved characterization of requirements and identification of further educational development that can be undertaken both inside companies and in university graduate programs.


Companies engaged in the design, production and field-support of complex systems are experiencing a broad and fundamental change in how they do business. Over the past 20 years, the systems they produce have grown rapidly in scale and complexity. The change has been driven by powerful computing and communications networks that deliver vastly more functionality at lower cost and higher reliability. As examples, consider: flying drone aircraft on the other side of the world, an automated assembly line or load management in a communications or distribution network. The resulting systems have capabilities many orders of magnitude greater than even two decades ago. To deliver and sustain such systems, the large monolithic, vertically integrated organizations of the 1970s have largely been restructured and re-engineered into highly focused, tightly interlinked units in a global supply network.

There are worrying implications about how to organize this sprawling combination of organizations often located in many countries. There are few precedents to show how to manage the combination of complexity, rate of change and diversity of functional components. Solutions are invariably an ad hoc combination of technical and business methods. As a result, the expertise may largely be classed as ‘tribal knowledge’. It is a pragmatic approach that works tolerably as long as there are no rapid changes. However, many systems companies now face a major demographic risk as a large proportion of their senior engineers retire in the next few years. Concern has been widely expressed throughout the high-tech sector 1,2. A training solution to prepare the next generation of technical managers has been implemented 3, 4 by an industry-based consortium that is deeply involved in designing, producing and sustaining complex systems.

In executing this training program, it has become evident that the challenge is much broader than simply preparing the next generation of technology leaders. The purpose of this paper is to take the analysis to the next stage and examine the real-world features of

Robertson, J., & Tidwell, J. (2007, June), Preparing For Next Generation Systems Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1794

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