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Title page for ETD etd-03302010-150307

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Pierce, Jeff Glenn
Author's Email Address jeff.g.pierce@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-03302010-150307
Title Designing flexible engineering systems utilizing embedded architecture options
Degree PhD
Department Interdisciplinary Studies: Systems Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Professor Sankaran Mahadevan Committee Chair
Professor David Dilts Committee Member
Professor Kenneth Pence Committee Member
Professor Mark Abkowitz Committee Member
Professor Surya Pathak Committee Member
  • Value Centric Design
  • Architecture Screening Process
  • Design Flexibility Framework
  • Uncertainty Management
  • System Architecture
  • Flexible Design
  • Systems Engineering
  • Flexibility
  • Option Valuation
  • Real Options
  • Portfolio Optimization
  • Satellite Design
  • Spacecraft
Date of Defense 2010-03-22
Availability unrestricted
This dissertation develops and applies an integrated framework for embedding flexibility in an engineered system architecture. Systems are constantly faced with unpredictability in the operational environment, threats from competing systems, obsolescence of technology, and general uncertainty in future system demands. Current systems engineering and risk management practices have focused almost exclusively on mitigating or preventing the negative consequences of uncertainty. This research recognizes that high uncertainty also presents an opportunity to design systems that can flexibly respond to changing requirements and capture additional value throughout the design life. There does not exist however a formalized approach to designing appropriately flexible systems.

This research develops a three stage integrated flexibility framework based on the concept of architecture options embedded in the system design. Stage One defines an eight step systems engineering process to identify candidate architecture options. This process encapsulates the operational uncertainty though scenario development, traces new functional requirements to the affected design variables, and clusters the variables most sensitive to change. The resulting clusters can generate insight into the most promising regions in the architecture to embed flexibility in the form of architecture options. Stage Two develops a quantitative option valuation technique, grounded in real options theory, which is able to value embedded architecture options that exhibit variable expiration behavior. Stage Three proposes a portfolio optimization algorithm, for both discrete and continuous options, to select the optimal subset of architecture options, subject to budget and risk constraints. Finally, the feasibility, extensibility and limitations of the framework are assessed by its application to a reconnaissance satellite system development problem. Detailed technical data, performance models, and cost estimates were compiled for the Tactical Imaging Constellation Architecture Study and leveraged to complete a realistic proof-of-concept.

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