Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Bruce Cameron

Dr. Bruce Cameron, Director, MIT System Architecture Lab

Short Programs Course: Principles and Models for System Architecture

Co-Instructors: Prof. Edward Crawley, Dr. Dov Dori

Why did you decide to teach a systems engineering course for professionals?

We started teaching this course because we found that industry practices were not well codified inside companies today. There is a lot of experience with systems engineering out there, but that knowledge often lives in silos. Creating this course gave us a chance to bring that experience base together into a coherent format. This course is a lot of fun for faculty to teach. We love hearing about the complex products participants are working on, and this course gives us an opportunity to work with participants on addressing those challenges using system engineering tools.

What will participants learn in the course?

We’re very focused on what the big questions around architecture are. In that context, we spend a lot of time working through how we enumerate the functions of the system, how we identify the form of the system, and then how do we map the two together as a representation of architecture. Over the course of a week, we work from the decisions that define architecture to how we describe the architecture of a system, and what we might do downstream from that from a systems engineering perspective. We cover topics around what the relationship between strategy and marketing is to the architecture we’re developing, how we might represent the interfaces of the system, as well as a project that ends up spanning the whole week whereby participants bring their problems to MIT. Together, we end up building out representations of the systems that they are interested in studying.

What kind of people typically participate in your course?

In terms of audience for the class, we often see senior engineers who are working the front end of development because they are tasked with defining the architecture for new systems in their jobs. We see a lot of R&D managers and program executives from a product development perspective. We’ve also seen some folks from the project management perspective and from a manufacturing perspective who are interested in seeing what’s happening on the other side of the fence and how they can learn more about what architecture is and what systems engineering is.