MIT Strategic Engineering

Selected Publications by Topic

System Lifecycle Properties ("Ilities")

The System Lifecycle Properties that are of most interest to us are: flexibility and changeability, reconfigurability, evolvability, robustness and sustainability. These all relate to a system's ability to adapt to changed circumstances over its useful life. We are also interested in a system's ability to improve by infusion of new technologies. The goal of deliberately designing for these properties is to maximize the value generated by the system for its stakeholders.

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Product Platforms and Commonality

For many firms and organizations it is no longer sufficient to offer a single"one-size-fits-all" product or service, but in response to competition and globalization they now have to offer an entire product family. Offering such variety to the market and doing so cost effectively - with relatively low internal complexity - requires commonality ("sharing parts") and often the design of new derivative products from a common platform or set of modules ("sharing interfaces"). Doing this well is both an art and a science.

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Space Systems Logistics

The traditional mode of exploring our solar system (and beyond) has been to send single-mission robotic probes that are extremely capable and reliable. However, now and in the future we will explore space with combinations of humans and robots, we build infrastructures in space (e.g. the International Space Station ISS) and we plan for sustained campaigns of exploration where one mission builds on the next. This requires extensive logistics and supply chain management both on Earth and in Space. This kind of logistics is quite different from commercial logistics on Earth. We are an academic leader in the field of Space Logistics and have developed methods and tools (e.g. SpaceNet) for tackling these challlenges in a scientific way.

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Systems Architecture and Engineering

Systems Architecting establishes the high-level concept for a new system while Systems Engineering then translates this concept to a detailed design that can be implemented and tested and ultimately operated. We are particularly interested in architectural patterns of systems including their complexity, modularity and evolution over time. We carefully study the Management of Engineering Change and Change Propagation Analysis. Rarely is the initial choice of architecture and initial design complete and correct. Many cycles of redesign and engineering changes are often required to get it right. Our goal is to quantitatively decribe and substantially improve these processes in order to better manage complex technology projects. Increasingly these questions also apply to critical infrastucture systems and the design of cities.

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Multidisciplinary Design Optimization

Multidisciplinary Design Optimization (MDO) seeks to find a system design point that will optimally satisfy multiple - possibly conflicting - objectives. This is done by integrating models from multiple disciplines such as structures, controls, propulsion, cost modeling etc. into a coherent modeling and computational framework. Our main interest in MDO is in efficient multi-objective optimization (MOO) as well as optimizing systems for lifecycle properties such as flexibility, profitability (economic objectives). We are especially interested in adaptive methods (such as Adaptive Weighted Sum optimization). One of the difficulties in optimizing truly complex systems (such as infrastructures or cities) is that the various stakeholders may not agree on what the real objectives should be or how to prioritize the objectives or set the constraints.

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Integrated Modeling and Simulation

Before systems exist and while they are being designed (and operated), we often need to resort to modeling and simulation to predict their future behavior. In the area of Modeling and Simulation we are interested in modeling and simulating complex systems efficiently and including multiple phenomena. Simulation typically occurs in the time domain or the frequency domain. A recent area of interest is that of simulation of distributed or federated systems, e.g. using the HLA-evolved standard IEEE-1516-2010. Earlier work was focused on the integrated modeling and simulation of space telescopes such as the Next Generation Space Telescope NGST (now referred to as the James Webb Space Telescope JWST).

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