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Economics of Human Systems Integration: A Systems Engineering Perspective
by: Kevin Liu, ‘10
Supervisors: Ricardo Valerdi, Donna Rhodes
Description of the Project: Human Systems Integration (HSI) is the collection of interdisciplinary technical and management processes for integrating human considerations within and across all system elements. This discipline seeks to treat humans as equally important to system design as are other system elements, such as hardware and software. HSI has been defined by many stakeholders, particularly government agencies that advocate the “total system” approach, which incorporates humans, technology, the operational context, and the necessary interfaces between. HSI considerations include the following nine domains: manpower, personnel, training, human factors engineering, environment, safety, occupational health, habitability, and survivability. This project, sponsored by the U.S Air Force, seeks to develop an approach for determining what percentage of the overall systems engineering activity should be allocated to HSI in order to effectively estimate the costs of these nine domains as part of the overall systems engineering effort.
Complex Systems Research Lab
by: Melissa Spencer, ‘12
Supervisors: Complex Systems Research Lab
Description of the Project: I work in the Complex Systems Research Lab with Professor Nancy Leveson. The CSRL does system safety work across many different disciplines including (but not limited to) aviation, nuclear power, transportation, food safety and aerospace. The CSRL designs system modeling, analysis, and visualization theory and tools to assist in the design and operation of safer systems with greater capability. To accomplish these goals, the lab applies a system’s approach to engineering that includes building technical foundations and knowledge and integrating these with the organizational, political, and cultural aspects of system construction and operation. The research grant that I have been working on focuses on air traffic control and the safety assessment of a new procedure allowing planes to change flight level “in trail.” Much of the work that we do in the CSRL focuses specifically on software safety–that is how the introduction of software into complex systems (and the subsequent changing role of the human operator) can be controlled to ensure safe systems.
Forest Fire Management
by: Ross Collins, ‘12
Supervisors: Richard de Neufville.
Description of the Project: Ross Collins is a graduate research assistant in the MIT-Portugal Program working on forest fire management in Portugal. The project is an international collaboration between MIT and major Portuguese universities, the national government, and the paper and pulp industry. Leadership in Portugal currently lacks a systems perspective considering the appropriate combinations of available management alternatives, and the interactions between environmental, technological, social and cultural, as well as economic factors. Forest fire management as an institutionalized system is fraught with critical uncertainties stemming from climate change, economic conditions, and technology and operations performance. In his current work, Ross is utilizing systems dynamics to understand the bottlenecks that strain firefighting capacity under these uncertain conditions. In his modeling efforts he plans to identify flexible management options for mitigating the impacts of forest fire in a cost-effective manner.