Aerospace Systems Engineer


Risk reduction

Technical and Program Management

“It’s not always about the technical!”
-Suzanne Bailey OSR PM

“Sometimes it IS about the technical!”

–Kathy Morgan OSR Chief Engineer

Systems Engineering (and program management) is all about risk reduction! Documentation reduces risk!

Requirements buy down programmatic risk! The risk of delivering the wrong thing. Or the perceived wrong thing. Requirements are the contractual agreement with the customer AND with the developer(s). Systems Engineering is the lawyer. Assume that “gentleman’s agreements” and assumed understandings will fail. Especially in our industry where we have such high personnel turnover. The customer we have at the beginning of a project is seldom the one we have at the end. Unless requirements are unambiguous you will be caught at test and deployment with “different” interpretations! (pay me now or pay me latter- and it’s cheaper up front) The development engineers also transition. The design we think we all understand WILL NOT be the same one a new person to the project will have.

Interfaces are technical risk. Two or more developer’s efforts meet at an interface. The interface must be well understood and documented. And early!   un-validated and undocumented assumptions will kill you!

Conops buys down programmatic AND technical risk. Conops IS NOT the operations manual! (but it will lead to it) Conops is the systems behavior. Conops is a design document. Its how the system MUST behave, it must be complied with by the developers. Developers must have a common vision of the behavior especially where they interact. Conops is also the behavior the customer and User sees. The Conops is generally the most “approachable” document to the customer and User.

Cutting Corners

A very experienced team may get away with cutting corners that a Jr. team can’t.   It’s also less risky to cut corners on simpler projects than more complex projects. But you must consciously KNOW you are cutting corners, know WHY you are cutting corners, and know the risk.  “its not always about the technical”, but it’s also not always about the $s. System Engineering and Program Management is not easy! Everything’s a trade. How we envy those engineering disciplines that can calculate THE right answer. Everything is gray to us.