Systems Engineering for a Complex Future
The new complexity that the government faces in its systems and enterprises is a consequence of the interdependencies that arise when many systems are networked to achieve a collaborative advantage. When networked systems are individually adapting to rapid technology and mission changes, the environment becomes unpredictable. Systems engineering success depends on the ability to adapt not only the individual systems, but the network of constantly changing systems.
At MITRE, we engineer the enterprise and the systems that enable it. Bringing value to operational users requires a combination of the disciplined methods and the "big picture" perspective of the traditional forms of systems engineering, as well as enterprise systems engineering methods and mindsets aimed at harnessing the inherent uncertainty and interdependence in an enterprise. Engineering for the enterprise is not a replacement for traditional systems engineering. Increasingly, both disciplines must be used in combination to achieve success.
The complexity of federal enterprises requires a spectrum of systems engineering techniques. Traditional systems engineering is like watch making. Its processes, techniques, and tools are applicable to difficult problems that are deterministic or reductionist in nature. It requires skills in concept and architecture development, requirements definition, strategic planning, system integration, and risk analysis. Enterprise engineering is like gardening. It draws on the fundamental principles of evolution, ecology, and adaptation. It uses techniques to increase the likelihood of favorable outcomes in complex environments that may change in unpredictable ways. Enterprise engineering is concerned with agility of the systems to adapt to change. It requires skills in designing for options and composability, strategies for early and continuous discovery, and strategies tailored to the volatility of user requirements and enabling technologies.
Serving Defense, Intelligence, and Civil Agencies
The government agencies that MITRE serves span the military, intelligence, and civil sectors. We have a strong culture of knowledge management for capturing and sharing knowledge gained in one area to benefit all.
In the defense and intelligence sectors, we address the systems engineering needs of all the military services and various branches of the intelligence and national security community in areas as diverse as: mission assurance; joint network integration; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; data and services; operations/intelligence; and command and control.
On the civil agency side, we support the systems engineering needs of the Federal Aviation Administration, Internal Revenue Service, Department of Veterans Affairs, and Department of Homeland Security. Our work for civil agencies dates back to the 1960s. In 2009 DHS selected MITRE to operate its new Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC), called the Homeland Security Systems Engineering and Development Institute.
Information Sharing and Collaboration
Our robust knowledge-sharing culture extends beyond the corporation and our customers. We have made available to the community two systems engineering resources that we have developed and use internally—the Systems Engineering Guide (SEG) and the Systems Engineering Competency Model (SECM). We collaborate widely with the community of practitioners, including academia, industry, and other non-profits to advance the discipline and practice of systems engineering. Our staff have leadership roles in the IEEE, INCOSE, NDIA, and other engineering forums. We publish in the open literature, including conference proceedings, technical journals, and books. For example, MITRE and scientific publisher Taylor & Francis are producing a series of books that reflects our and others' applied experience in complex systems engineering, including titles such as Model-Oriented Systems Engineering Science, Analytical Methods for Risk Management, Engineering Mega-Systems, and Enterprise Systems Engineering.
In addition, we recently released a series of white papers on service-oriented architecture that provides detailed perspectives and guidance for government agencies considering the adoption of this increasingly influential concept. We have also taken a leadership role in cloud computing by initiating an ongoing conversation with experts across government, industry, and academia to answer some of its most pressing questions.
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