Colloquium: January 12, 2016

Design and Engineering of Complex Systems

Anna-Maria Rivas McGowan

Tuesday, January 12, 2015 at 2:00 P.M. in Pearl Young Theatre in the Integrated Services Building


The design and development of complex systems has become increasingly important in the last decade. New terms are emerging to describe this complexity, for example systems of systems, cyber-physical systems, socio-technical systems, and collaborative design. This emerging field recognizes how disciplines outside of traditional engineering both brought on the problems of complexity and make the potential solutions more challenging. These disciplines include information science, statistical science, organizational science, decision science, design science, system science, economics, security, policy, and many others. The complexity invites great innovation to bring together the differing knowledge bases, including those outside of engineering, and to generate new methodologies in engineering practice. These innovative approaches are likely to lie between and beyond traditional and non-traditional disciplines. This presentation will survey the current state of complex systems.


Anna-Maria Rivas McGowan is NASA’s Senior Engineer for Complex Systems Design, leading the Agency’s initiatives to develop methodologies for designing and engineering complex systems. She serves as an Agency technical advisor and the principal strategist for collaborating with external leaders to advance interdisciplinary research, design, and development of methodologies that address increasing complexities in aerospace systems. She has over 23 years experience in aerospace research and leadership. Recently, she served as the Project Manager of NASA’s Convergent Aeronautics Solutions (CAS) Project. CAS is a central part of NASA’s strategic vision for transformation in global air mobility, seeking to cultivate multi-disciplinary, revolutionary concepts and harness convergence in aeronautics and non-aeronautics technologies. She has a B.S. in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from Purdue University, M.S. in Aerospace Engineering from Old Dominion University, and Ph.D. in Design Science in Engineering from the University of Michigan. She has numerous NASA individual and group achievement awards.