Keywords engineering behaviour study NASA nasa systems engineering
Standards groups

As a general rule, the number of engineers and engineering sub-disciplines needed to
develop a particular instrument system is determined by its performance requirements as
well as whether the work remains in-house or is contracted out-of-house. For larger,
more complex instruments requiring a variety of engineered sub-system components, the
integration and coordination of project sub-teams is essential. This increasingly critical
role is performed by a small, uniquely skilled group of individuals known as Systems
Engineers (SE). The different roles of a systems engineers, or specialties, include:
Mission Systems Engineer (MSE), Spacecraft Systems Engineer (SSE), Ground Systems
Engineer (GSE) and Instrument Systems Engineer (ISE). There are various titles, but
basically systems engineering could be the systems engineer overseeing the entire
mission as a whole or the various subsets or systems within the system. Typically, the
MSE directs the technical aspects of the mission and then has SSE, GSE and several ISEs
to help build the spacecraft, ground systems and the various instruments for the mission.

In his March, 2007 address at Purdue University, System Engineering and the “Two
Cultures” of Engineering, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin characterized System
Engineering is both an art and a science:
The development of formal methods has not altered in any way the fundamental
nature of design, which still depends, as it did in antiquity, upon the generation
of a concept for a process, technique, or device by which a given problem might
be solved. The engineering sciences have provided better, and certainly quicker,
insight for the designer into the suitability of the concept than can be provided
solely by building it and examining its performance in its intended application.
But a human being must still intuit the concept. (Griffin, 2007)

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The purpose of this study was to identify the behaviors frequently observed by highly
regarded Systems Engineers (SEs) at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC). Five SEs were
interviewed, observed, and shadowed in order to understand and determine the behaviors
and attributes that contribute to their success. Data from this study will be used to identify
and support the development of high potential future SE leaders.

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