Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The effect of requirements prioritization on avionics system conceptual design
by Lorentz, John, D.Sc., The George Washington University, 2009, 160; 3349971
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation will provide a detailed approach and analysis of a new collaborative requirements prioritization methodology that has been used successfully on four Coast Guard avionics acquisition and development programs valued at $400M+. A statistical representation of participant study results will be discussed and analyzed in detail.

Many technically compliant projects fail to deliver levels of performance and capability that the customer desires. Some of these systems completely meet "threshold" levels of performance; however, the distribution of resources in the process devoted to the development and management of the requirements does not always represent the voice of the customer. This is especially true for technically complex projects such as modern avionics systems.

A simplified facilitated process for prioritization of system requirements will be described. The collaborative prioritization process, and resulting artifacts, aids the systems engineer during early conceptual design. All requirements are not the same in terms of customer priority. While there is a tendency to have many thresholds inside of a system design, there is usually a subset of requirements and system performance that is of the utmost importance to the design. These critical capabilities and critical levels of performance typically represent the reason the system is being built.

The systems engineer needs processes to identify these critical capabilities, the associated desired levels of performance, and the risks associated with the specific requirements that define the critical capability. The facilitated prioritization exercise is designed to collaboratively draw out these critical capabilities and levels of performance so they can be emphasized in system design. Developing the purpose, scheduling and process for prioritization events are key elements of systems engineering and modern project management. The benefits of early collaborative prioritization flow throughout the project schedule, resulting in greater success during system deployment and operational testing.

This dissertation will discuss the data and findings from participant studies, present a literature review of systems engineering and design processes, and test the hypothesis that the prioritization process had no effect on stakeholder sentiment related to the conceptual design. In addition, the "Requirements Rationalization" process will be discussed in detail.

Avionics, like many other systems, has transitioned from a discrete electronics engineering, hard engineering discipline to incorporate software engineering as a core process of the technology development cycle. As with other software-based systems, avionics now has significant soft system attributes that must be considered in the design process. The boundless opportunities that exist in software design demand prioritization to focus effort onto the critical functions that the software must provide. This has been a well documented and understood phenomenon in the software development community for many years. This dissertation will attempt to link the effect of software integrated avionics to the benefits of prioritization of requirements in the problem space and demonstrate the sociological and technical benefits of early prioritization practices.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Sarkani, Shahram, Mazzuchi, Thomas A.
Commitee: Allario, Frank, Kershenstein, John C., Murphree, Edward L.
School: The George Washington University
Department: Engineering Mgt and Systems Engineering
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-B 70/03, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Aerospace engineering, Electrical engineering, Systems science
Keywords: Avionics, Conceptual design, Prioritization, Requirements, Risk, Systems engineering
Publication Number: 3349971
ISBN: 9781109064490
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