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Material supported by a SERC research activity February 2013 1 Helix Investigating the DNA of the Systems Engineering Workforce This material is based.

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Presentation on theme: "Material supported by a SERC research activity February 2013 1 Helix Investigating the DNA of the Systems Engineering Workforce This material is based."— Presentation transcript:

1 Material supported by a SERC research activity February Helix Investigating the DNA of the Systems Engineering Workforce This material is based upon work supported, in whole or in part, by the U.S. Department of Defense through the Systems Engineering Research Center (SERC) under Contract H D The SERC is a federally funded University Affiliated Research Center (UARC) managed by Stevens Institute of Technology consisting of a collaborative network of over 20 universities. More information is available at Presentation to the NDIA Systems Engineering Division Art Pyster February 13, 2013

2 Material supported by a SERC research activity February Helix Project Motivation Strong forces are buffeting the US defense SE workforce: ―Near-term retirement of many senior-most engineers ―Attrition early in careers ―Rapid changes in defense system technology and mission requirements ―Revamping of processes used to develop defense systems ―Harsh new fiscal reality ―How best to prepare for next generation DoD and NDIA-SED want to understand the impact of those forces in order to refine efforts to improve today’s systems engineers and develop tomorrow’s. ―Who the “real” systems engineers are? ―What do they do? ―How they are deployed? ―How effective are they? ―What forces (competency? education? experiences? …) most impact their effectiveness? They want to understand how the SE workforce is changing over time.

3 Material supported by a SERC research activity February The Response DoD and NDIA-SED are sponsoring the SERC’s Helix Project, which is developing a baseline of SE workforce characteristics, including effectiveness, for both the DoD and NDIA-SED organizations and will regularly refresh that baseline over time. That workforce baseline will support benchmarking of organizations with respect to segments of industry and DoD. Helix will publish reports on a regular schedule – initially planned to be quarterly after startup. (Note: Publication will aggregate/anonymous results.) Helix will recommend changes in current and planned DoD and NDIA-SED organizations’ efforts to increase the effectiveness of those initiatives.

4 Material supported by a SERC research activity February Helix Research Approach Helix has defined three research questions about the SE workforce it will initially seek to answer: ―WHO ARE THE SYSTEMS ENGINEERS? ―HOW EFFECTIVE ARE THEY AND WHY? ―WHAT ARE EMPLOYERS DOING TO IMPROVE EFFECTIVENESS? Helix will collect data primarily through interviews (not surveys) and from institutional documents and databases. Helix will slice data in multiple ways; e.g., to distinguish between characteristics of the SE population in NDIA-SED organizations and the DoD. Helix has an advisory panel of representatives from DoD and NDIA-SED companies to help validate the project approach and to help the project access needed data.

5 Material supported by a SERC research activity February Research Questions 1.WHO ARE THE SYSTEMS ENGINEERS? What are the various definitions and characteristics of a “systems engineer” in DoD and NDIA-SED organizations and how do they differ? What are the activities they actually perform? 2.HOW EFFECTIVE ARE THEY AND WHY? How can the effectiveness of systems engineers (not systems engineering) be measured in DoD and NDIA-SED organizations and which forces, such as competencies, attrition, education, culture, environment, expectations and experiences, have the greatest impact on the effectiveness of systems engineers? 3.WHAT ARE EMPLOYERS DOING TO IMPROVE EFFECTIVENESS? What efforts do DoD and NDIA-SED organizations currently employ to maintain and improve the effectiveness of their SE workforce and how aligned are those efforts with the forces that have the greatest impact on effectiveness?

6 Material supported by a SERC research activity February Benchmarking Axes are for illustration. Real axes will emerge from collected data.

7 Material supported by a SERC research activity February Research Method Steps 1-5 are a research cycle that is repeated periodically, beginning with pilot in spring 2013: 1.Prepare for cycle (grounded theory) 2.Collect data (interviews and institutional) 3.Analyze data (search for repeated patterns) 4.Answer research questions 5.Publish results

8 Material supported by a SERC research activity February Key Term: Effectiveness Effectiveness ―An individual systems engineer is effective when the outcomes for which he is individually responsible are achieved as a result of the systems engineering activities he performs. ―An organization’s systems engineering workforce is effective when the outcomes for which they are collectively responsible are achieved as a result of the systems engineering activities they perform.

9 Material supported by a SERC research activity February Participation Requested NDIA-SED companies are invited to participate in both the pilot and the full study Please contact me directly at


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