CTV News reported that Canada participated in the International Space Exploration Coordination Group to develop a longterm plan to return to the moon. Canada's speciality? Robotics. Similar to how Canadians now operate the Canadarm, Canadians would operate the robotics needed for a lunar mission. This longterm plan could spell many opportunities for systems engineers as they are well suited for both aerospace, mission planning and robotics development.
It was reported this month that Gulfstream overtook Bombardier as the top business jet maker by shipment value. Gulfstream shipped $1.83B (U.S) in the quarter to Bombardier's $1.59B (U.S.). Both companies do work with strong system engineering components and it's good to see shipments in such a tough market.
Aerospace has always been one of the core employment areas for systems engineers. Aircraft construction has the large-scale complexity that requires careful planning and oversight that systems engineers are trained to provide. This, coupled with the certification and safety aspects of aircraft make the industry both challenging and rewarding to engineers.
The importance of systems engineering comes to the forefront in a recent decision by the State of Queensland in Australia to ban IBM from signing new contracts with any government department until IBM addresses its project governance issues. IBM is the prime contractor on a payroll system that ballooned from a $10 million budget to a projected total of $1.2 billion. The article points out that a series of audits, the latest being a Commission of Inquiry Investigation conducted by a former Supreme Court Justice, found that the projects difficulties were caused by poor project scope definition as well as poor governance by all parties involved.
Practicing systems engineers should note to enormous adverse impact of poor systems engineering (scope definition in this case) on the client and company. The client's costs increased 120x over the planned budget while the company may lose out on future contract opportunities.
Effective scope definition and control is a key skill for every systems engineer. This case illustrates its importance and the opportunities for the profession to help projects mitigate or avoid such difficulties.