Back to School: Using Innoslate® as a Systems Engineering Research Tool

When I worked on my dissertation research, I went out to Los Alamos, New Mexico to perform that research. I was privileged to work at the Clinton P. Anderson Meson Physics Facility, which went under the acronym of LAMPF. Today it has been renamed the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center. LAMPF was a medium energy linear proton accelerator (800 MeV) that was also used to produce pi-mesons (pions) and mu-mesons (muons) that we used for basic nuclear physics research. So this very expensive tool, which was designed and built by many physicist and engineers before me, led by an amazing man, Dr. Louis Rosen (who let me call him Louie!), was a critical part of my ability to further research into nuclear physics. Another tool I used was a magnetic spectrometer that was two stories tall, which was built by other physicists and engineers. To enable my research I designed and had built (they had an incredible machine shop and people who knew how to build things) a scattering chamber. They also had in this facility fantastic computational capabilities at the time in the form of DEC PDP-11s, VAX 11/780s, and CDC 7600s. All these tools enabled me to perform my experiments so I could meet my primary goal of obtaining my Ph.D. in Physics.

I know about now you are wondering what this has to do with systems engineering. As it turned out, I learned systems engineering the hard way by going through the process of developing the experiment plan, staffing it, organizing the team (I took the graveyard shift as I was the lowest member in rank of our team even though I was effectively leading it), collecting the data, analyzing the data, and producing papers and my dissertation. If you are a systems engineering student and you are starting your senior thesis project or Masters/Ph.D. research projects you need to use the tools available for systems engineering so you do not “reinvent the wheel.” The whole idea of such research, particularly at the Masters and Ph.D. level, is to extend the art and science of systems engineering.

So what tools do you plan to use for your research? I have watch as many students start with nothing but a computer and software language, like Java or C++ or Python, and go from there to reinvent pieces of tools already out there. They often need it, just like I felt I needed a new scatter chamber, because they aren’t aware of the tools that are available to build upon.

Innoslate® was designed to be a research tool for systems engineering. It can be used, of course, to perform most of the systems engineering tasks, such as requirements analysis, functional analysis, modeling and simulation, and even test and evaluation. So if you are in your Senior Design project, you can use the tool for free to advance your topic area analyses. Most of those kinds of projects are practical applications, often supported by a company or government organization. By using Innoslate® you are using a cutting edge tool that incorporates today’s technologies, such as cloud computing and NLP (natural language processing, a branch of artificial intelligence). If you are pursuing an advanced degree, you can use the tool to explore ontologies for digital engineering by using the schema extender. If you are interested in creating new ways to look at the systems engineering information, you can use the APIs to leverage the tremendous capabilities of the tool to create new user interfaces and visualizations, thus exploring the boundaries of Human-Computer Interfaces (HCI). You can also use the built-in Discrete Event and Monte Carlo simulators to make synchronous calls to other web services and obtain information from them to simulate different events and their effects on the system of interest. Since Innoslate® was designed for scalability, you can also pursue the bounds of “Big Data” by exploring predictive analytics.

SPEC Innovations, the developer of Innoslate®, is happy to support your efforts. We provide a free version, with all the features limited to 2,000 entities per project. That’s automatic when you register with your “.edu” address. If you need more entities, ask us. We can, on a case by case basis, provide you with an unlimited number of entities. If your research is sensitive, we have made special arrangements with Service organizations, such as the US Naval Postgraduate School, and US Air Force Academy, to have their own copies of the tool to put on their private clouds. We also provide organizations for individual Universities upon arrangement with their Professors, Departments, and Schools.

We only ask one thing in return. Please share with us the results of your work. Send us a link or better your papers, theses, or dissertations, so we can post them on our website. Together we can keep systems engineering moving forward.