Case Studies

From SEBoK
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Systems engineering principles described in the Systems Engineering Body of Knowledge (SEBoK) Parts 1-6 are illustrated in Part 7, Systems Engineering Implementation Examples. These examples describe the application of systems engineering practices, principles, and concepts in real settings. These systems engineering examples can be used to improve the practice of systems engineering by illustrating to students and practitioners the benefits of effective practice and the risks of poor practice. The SEBoK systems engineering implementation examples are grouped in two categories, case studies and vignettes . Case studies reference cases that have already been published by external sources in the existing literature. Vignettes are short wiki articles written specifically for the SEBoK.

List of Case Studies

The following case studies are included:

Value of Case Studies

Case studies have been used for decades in medicine, law, and business to help students learn fundamentals and to help practitioners improve their practice. A Matrix of Implementation Examples is used to show the alignment of systems engineering case studies to specific areas of the SEBoK. This matrix is intended to provide linkages between each implementation example to the discussion of the systems engineering principles illustrated. The selection of case studies cover a variety of sources, domains, and geographic locations. Both effective and ineffective use of systems engineering principles are illustrated.

The number of publicly available systems engineering case studies is growing. Case studies that highlight the aerospace domain are more prevalent, but there is a growing number of examples beyond this domain.

The United States Air Force Center for Systems Engineering (AF CSE) has developed a set of case studies "to facilitate learning by emphasizing the long-term consequences of the systems engineering/programmatic decisions on cost, schedule, and operational effectiveness." (USAF Center for Systems Engineering 2011) The AF CSE is using these cases to enhance SE curriculum. The cases are structured using the Friedman-Sage framework (Friedman and Sage 2003; Friedman and Sage 2004, 84-96), which decomposes a case into contractor, government, and shared responsibilities in the following nine concept areas:

  1. Requirements Definition and Management
  2. Systems Architecture Development
  3. System/Subsystem Design
  4. Verification/Validation
  5. Risk Management
  6. Systems Integration and Interfaces
  7. Life Cycle Support
  8. Deployment and Post Deployment
  9. System and Program Management

This framework forms the basis of the case study analysis carried out by the AF CSE. Two of these case studies are highlighted in this SEBoK section, the Hubble Space Telescope Case Study and the Global Positioning System Case Study.

The United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has a catalog of more than fifty NASA-related case studies (NASA 2011). These case studies include insights about both program management and systems engineering. Varying in the level of detail, topics addressed, and source organization, these case studies are used to enhance learning at workshops, training, retreats, and conferences. The use of case studies is viewed as important by NASA since "organizational learning takes place when knowledge is shared in usable ways among organizational members. Knowledge is most usable when it is contextual" (NASA 2011). Case study teaching is a method for sharing contextual knowledge to enable reapplication of lessons learned. The MSTI Case Study is from this catalog.


Works Cited

Friedman, G.R., and A.P. Sage. 2003. Systems Engineering Concepts: Illustration Through Case Studies. Accessed September 2011. Available:

Friedman, G.R., and A.P. Sage. 2004. "Case Studies of Systems Engineering and Management in Systems Acquisition." Systems Engineering. 7 (1): 84-96.

NASA. 2011. A Catalog of NASA-Related Case Studies. Goddard Space Flight Center: Office of the Chief Knowledge Officer, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Updated June 2011. Accessed September 2011. Available:

United States Air Force (USAF) Center for Systems Engineering. 2011. Why Case Studies?. Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, USA: Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT), US Air Force. Accessed September 2011. Available:

Primary References

Gorod, A., B.E. White, V. Ireland, S.J. Gandhi, and B.J. Sauser. 2014. Case Studies in System of Systems, Enterprise Systems, and Complex Systems Engineering. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group.

Additional References


< Previous Article | Parent Article | Next Article >
SEBoK v. 1.9.1 released 30 September 2018

SEBoK Discussion

Please provide your comments and feedback on the SEBoK below. You will need to log in to DISQUS using an existing account (e.g. Yahoo, Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) or create a DISQUS account. Simply type your comment in the text field below and DISQUS will guide you through the login or registration steps. Feedback will be archived and used for future updates to the SEBoK. If you provided a comment that is no longer listed, that comment has been adjudicated. You can view adjudication for comments submitted prior to SEBoK v. 1.0 at SEBoK Review and Adjudication. Later comments are addressed and changes are summarized in the Letter from the Editor and Acknowledgements and Release History.

If you would like to provide edits on this article, recommend new content, or make comments on the SEBoK as a whole, please see the SEBoK Sandbox.

blog comments powered by Disqus