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NASA, Boeing, and MIT Team Up on “Modeling Complex Systems” Course

NASA, Boeing, and MIT Team Up on “Modeling Complex Systems” Course

Ever-increasing complexity of systems in manufacturing and aerospace pushed MIT, Boeing, and NASA to offer a four-part online course on how to model and analyze intricate systems. As the first manifestation of the Space Act Agreement signed by NASA and Boeing last year, “Architecture and Systems Engineering: Models and Methods to Manage Complex Systems” is a certificate-based course aimed toward generating a workforce that is up-to-date on the latest standards and capabilities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

The four-part course, available this summer, focuses on modern complex systems from hybrid cars to aircraft, and presents students with real-life case studies. Participants should expect to finish the class with the skills to frame system architecture as a series of decisions that can be actively sorted and managed. 

The Four Topics

Students will first be introduced to architecture, system thinking, and the modern challenges faced when creating complex systems. Then they will move on to analyzing complex systems to determine function, costs, and benefits.

The second track will look at different ways to model complex systems, determining the parametrics, physics, and estimations needed to model dynamic systems and calculate optimization and final outputs.

The third part of the class introduces students to two standard languages used to generate model-based systems: Object Process Methodology (OPM) and Systems Modeling Language (SysML). The languages are useful for managing complexity, enabling programmers to model structure, features, specializations, functions, operands, lifecycle, assumptions, curation, end of life, and instances.

In the last track, students will explore quantitative methods in systems engineering. They will build models based on architectural decisions using tools for collaborative model building. In the end, students will try to come up with their own designs for systems in space exploration.

“To manage these complex, highly interdependent designs, traditional systems, engineering methods need to evolve to incorporate modern modeling and simulation capabilities. Incorporating these capabilities into systems engineering enables designs that would be nearly impossible to produce affordably with current methods,” says Christi Gau Pagnanelli, director of systems engineering at Boeing.

Dr. Bruce Cameron, director of the System Architecture Lab at MIT, will direct the program. The cost for the class has not yet been determined, but interested parties can sign up for email updates (offered on the right rail of the program website) to get more information.

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