Systems Engineering (SE)

The Ultra Survey Mission: Crafting A Systems Architecture Design Project

by Michael J. Vinarcik


Systems Architecture (SA) is a key discipline in Systems Engineering; robust architectures enable success and flawed architectures limit performance. However, SA is challenging to teach students because it is less of a “hard” science. At the University of Detroit Mercy, students in the MS Product Development (MPD) and Advanced Electric Vehicle (AEV) Certificate programs are exposed to a full term of SA. This class stresses the development of heuristics through exposure to mini case studies, class discussions, and several projects (including a field trip to the Henry Ford Museum to study multiple examples of competing historical architectures). The capstone project in this class requires teams of students to create a new architecture for a given set of criteria. One recent final project involved the creation of a space probe architecture that could meet mission objectives given a challenging set of constraints and the creation of DODAF Viewpoints to communicate the architecture.