Systems Engineering (SE)


by Michael J. Vinarcik


The Department of Defense’s Digital Engineering Strategy (adopted in June 2018) has five goals: 1. Formalize the development, integration, and use of models to inform enterprise and program decision making 2. Provide an enduring, authoritative source of truth 3. Incorporate technological innovation to improve the engineering practice 4. Establish a supporting infrastructure and environment to perform activities, collaborate, and communicate across stakeholders 5. Transform the culture and workforce to adopt and support digital engineering across the life cycle.1 For this strategy to succeed, stakeholders must willingly participate in the cultural transformation and use system models as they are intended: as living, dynamic, integrated sources of information that communicate intent with rigor and clarity. Moving from disjointed documents and air-gapped information sources to a single source of truth is important. However, the explosive growth in system complexity is causing a new, unwanted emergent behavior: In an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.2 Because stakeholders are becoming overwhelmed with information from multiple sources, effective system modeling cannot solely focus on the creation of competently executed, integrated system models. It must also facilitate the creation of visualizations and derived products that allow stakeholders to efficiently identify and consume relevant information.