Implementation of Systems Engineering Approach in Academic Projects: Software Defined Radio Technology Development as a Case Study

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Guangming Chen
Ali Saboonchi


Each year, federal and private agencies spend billions of dollars on research projects that academic institutions conduct for them. However, the communication language between these agencies as clients and academia as hosts, is not very efficient and well-established. This has resulted in lack of clarity in clients’ description of what exactly to be expected and in hosts’ description of their capabilities and challenges. In addition, many of these projects are essentially interdisciplinary and demand the involvement of diverse research teams from different university departments. Lack of cohesive collaboration among these diverse teams results in mismatches between different compartments of project output, and consequently, generation of superfluous product prototypes. Finally, for their real-time tracking and later retrieval, the current situation of documentation of academic projects needs to be significantly altered. We suggest that the presence of a systems engineering team should be an indispensable part of a large academic research project, in order to monitor and manage the various aspects and phases from initiation to completion.

For this purpose, we proposed a systems engineering model specific for academic research projects, which considers both strengths and challenges of universities as host research institutes. As a case study, we applied this proposed systems engineering approach on a NASA-funded project at Morgan State University (MSU) which was about design and implementation of software defined radio (SDR) for space exploration. Application of this model significantly improved the professional dialogue and technical clarifications between NASA and MSU partners, as well as within MSU teams. Moreover, the sub-system compatibility among different modules of the implemented product was notably enhanced. Overall, application of systems engineering approach in academic projects can result in mutual benefits for the institution and either federal or private client.

Article Details

How to Cite
Chen, G., & Saboonchi, A. (2016). Implementation of Systems Engineering Approach in Academic Projects: Software Defined Radio Technology Development as a Case Study. Industrial and Systems Engineering Review, 4(1), 22-36.
Author Biographies

Guangming Chen, Morgan State University Baltimore, Maryland

Dr. Chen is a Professor and Graduate Program Coordinator in
Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering
School of Engineering at Morgan State University. He is also the Director of Systems Engineering and Management Institute at Morgan.

Ali Saboonchi, Morgan State University

Graduating PhD Candidate at Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering


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