PM Point of View #38: Systems Engineering

By PMI Washington, DC Chapter, Nathaniel Fischer, Ruth Barry, and Randall C. Iliff
Contributed by

Our PM methods face stress in the face of projects that are related to research and development…where systems engineering is the key discipline is needed. The focus is on the requirements that change, that the project scope is unstable, as there are decisions that will arise after the project is undertaken. The PM’s task becomes a focus on creativity over structure…but what are those trade-offs? We need to follow more conditional branching, tasks that aren’t executed, and tasks that are suddenly forced to be repeated until an exit condition is met. It gets complicated when seen from our standard linear view. Listen in and here three engineers. Randall Iliff, Ruth Barry, and Nathaniel Fischer discuss projects with different definitions of what “done” looks like.

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PM Point of View® (PM-POV) is a podcast series produced by Final Milestone Productions and PMIWDC. PM-POV allows our membership and the public at large to listen to brief and informative conversations with beltway area practioners and executives as they discuss various perspectives on project management -- its uses, its shortcomings, its changes, and its future. Listeners can send comments and suggestions for topics and guests to pm-pov@pmiwdc.org.

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About the Speakers

Randall C. Iliff
Eclectic Intellect, LLC
Founder

Mr. Iliff has over 35 years’ experience leading developmental effort, and has participated in all phases of project execution from proposal to close out. He is a seasoned large-project PM as well as a recognized expert in Systems Engineering. Mr. Iliff holds a BS in Engineering / Industrial Design from Michigan State University, and an MS in Systems Management, Research and Development from the University of Southern California. Mr. Iliff is a charter member of the International Council On Systems Engineering (INCOSE), and currently serves as the INCOSE representative on an alliance between INCOSE, PMI, and the MIT Center for Program Excellence. Until early 2016 Mr. Iliff was VP at the award-winning design firm bb7, where he was also Director of Strategy, Methods and Learning. Prior to that he worked for Motorola, Martin Marietta, and McDonnell-Douglas. In 2016, he left bb7 and founded Eclectic Intellect.

Ruth Barry
bb7
Director of Electrical & Software Engineering

VOLCANO (PHILIPS) CORE FM Project Manager Wireless device used to measure blood pressure and blood flow. The project included human interface, industrial, mechanical, advanced electrical and software design, and full product testing. ORASCOPTIC XV1 INTEGRATED LOUPE AND HEADLAMP SYSTEM Project Manager The first fully-integrated loupe and headlamp system for use in dental and surgical applications. The project included IP research, human interface, industrial, mechanical, optical, electrical and software design, and full product testing. The loupes launched 18 months after approved concept. KERR DENTAL CURING WAND Project Manager Two generations of ergonomic curing wands; the second product features ultracapacitor technology in place of traditional battery technology. Both projects included IP research, human interface, industrial, mechanical, optical, electrical and software design, and full product testing. The first wand launched within twelve months of concept approval; the second product followed one year later.

Nathaniel Fischer
bb7
Mechanical Engineer

LANAIR PORTABLE RADIANT HEATER Mechanical Engineer Addressed reliability concerns with existing machine. Re-designed a portable radiant heater to reduce cost, and simplify the design to minimize assembly time and reduce rework and scrap. MALLINCKRODT PHARMACEUTICALS Lead Mechanical Engineer Designed modular test fixture for gas sensors that allows for several different gas flow configurations. GE HEALTHCARE VARIABLE COST PRODUCTIVITY (VCP) PROJECTS VCP Mechanical Engineer Work with a cross-functional team to reduce component costs. Tasks include: writing engineering change orders, verification activities, updating documents. NASA KENNEDY SPACE CENTER MODELING AND SIMULATION Simulation Engineer Intern Using Mathworks Simulink and Simscape, developed a model of a closed-volume fluid tank, and tested the model in a real-time environment.

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