INCOSE San Diego
June 2018 Newsletter
From The President

Systems Engineering Return on Investment (ROI)
What is the right amount of systems engineering?

As professionals in your industry, can you recall a conversation about a program where someone was complaining about too much systems engineering? Me neither; as a matter of fact, I’ve been involved with many discussions concerning the lack of systems engineering and/or lack of systems engineers supporting the program. 

Programs today are more complicated as ever, so if we need systems engineering, what is the optimal ratio (SE resources/total resources) of systems engineering to be applied to a program to achieve the best return on investment (ROI)?  This can highly depend upon the technical nature and the size of the program; the more technical risk and/or the larger program budget, the more should be spent on systems engineering efforts.  This sounds like good old common sense.  However, most programs are budget and/or time constrained, and most 'aerospace' projects tend to be Firm Fixed Price.  

So without factoring in the complexities of a specific industry (i.e. COMMS, aircraft, C4ISR, ship builders, healthcare), what is the general rule of thumb of the required percentage of SE effort?  

To answer this, let’s take a look at our very insightful INCOSE SE Handbook*.  Eric Honour from the University of South Australia undertook a quantitative research project on the ROI of SE activities. From Figure 2-7 (shown below), the optimal level of SE effort is 14% (normalized).  Again, most projects don’t use enough SE effort. Conversely, the graph shows that performance diminishes with too much SE effort.  This research does not mean to use 14% consistently throughout each phase of the life cycle (requirements, architecture and analysis, development, integration, testing, verification, deployment, sustainment): the 14% is an average.  Your project leadership, which should include strong SE advocates, need to determine the appropriate level of SE effort for each phase.  Minimally, there is need for SE support at 3-5% level even during the sustainment phase, to handle the logistics and identify potential opportunities for future technology insertion.  And because leadership is a critical responsibility of an SE professional, it is our responsibility to advocate the use of SE within the project and adjust the resource loading during various phases of the project. 

* The INCOSE SE Handbook V4 is available at no cost to members at

Also, when is the most critical time to determine the level of SE for a program or project?  I would say at the time of proposal development. Many companies have recognized this and have proposal development policies and procedures to ensure the projects are bid appropriately with the correct level of SE effort.  If your company does not have such guidance, it is time to undertake a leadership role and advocate for the appropriate SE effort necessary to successfully execute the program.

One final thought.  If a project does not implement the appropriate level of SE, the ROI will not be optimal and program quality will suffer.  Take a look for a moment at one of my favorite graphs (Figure 2.4 below) in the handbook showing how costs and delivery schedules can escalate over time when SE process is not applied appropriately.

Have a wonderful ROI time!

Ted Mulder
President, INCOSE San Diego Chapter
Upcoming Events
NEW - INCOSE San Diego has added webcasting!  Please check the events for specific instructions.
  Wednesday, June 20, 5:30 - 7:00pm

This presentation will explore the existing pilot project for Southbound Border Wait Times at the San Ysidro port of entry, along with current efforts underway to expand the system to other ports of entry along the southern border in California, as well as Northbound waits in collaboration with Mexican authorities.

Location: Filippi’s Restaurant in Kearny Mesa. 5353 Kearny Villa Rd, San Diego, CA 92123. (Google Maps)
Presenter:  Mr. Ian Kilgour, PE

Webcasting: This meeting will also be webcast. Please check the website for instructions.
Presentation and Dinner: The first 1/2 hour is for dinner and networking. The optional buffet dinner starts at 5:30 and the presentation begins at approximately 6 pm. The buffet is $10 for members, $15 for non-members.

2018 INCOSE International Symposium
Sat - Thurs, July 7-12, 2018

INCOSE's 2018 International Symposium will be held in Washington D.C. from July 7th-12th. This is INCOSE's flagship event for systems engineers worldwide, hosted in our nation's capitol. Register now!

  Wednesday, July 18, 5:30 - 8:30pm

It's summertime, let's take a break and have a summer social this July 18th at Oggi's in Mission Valley from 5:30 - 8:30pm.  This event is open to all, including non-members, and will include FREE pizzas, salads, pastas, appetizers, and soft drinks (everyone must purchase their own alcoholic beverages).  Please RSVP Here.

Please invite guests who are potentially interested in joining INCOSE!   Our San Diego chapter is now up to approximately 180 members, an historic high.  Let's keep the momentum going and continue to increase the size, breathe and knowledge of our organization by recruiting additional professionals.

Location: Oggi's Restaurant in Mission Valley.  2245 Fenton Pkwy #101, San Diego, CA 92108. (Google Maps)
Cost: Free to all (please RSVP)!

2018 Western Regional States Conference (WSRC)
Thurs - Sat, Sept 20-22, 2018

The Wasatch Chapter of INCOSE is hosting the first annual meeting of the regional conference, serving the systems engineering communities from the Front Range in Colorado to the Pacific Coast.  This 3-day event will feature technical presentations, working groups, and panel discussions, with more activities being planned. This will be a great opportunity for high quality learning, networking, collaborating – all close to home in the majestic Wasatch Mountains!  The conference venue is the Orbital ATK Conference Center, located in scenic Ogden Canyon – just one hour north of Salt Lake City International Airport.  Train service is available, so a rental car is not required. Sign up is now available.  Also see the WSRC flyer.

For those who would like to attend remotely, satellite offices are currently being explored. This would include video screens to view the live WSRC presentations.  For more information, please contact Paul White at

Conference Prices:
On Site - Utah

Member Early Bird (by August 19): $150
Nonmember Early Bird: $250
Members Student: $50 
Non-members Student: $75

Satellite Site (locations and some details still TBD)

Member Early Bird (Satellite Site): $50
Member (Satellite Site): $60
Nonmember Early Bird (Satellite Site): $80
Nonmember (Satellite Site): $100

The 2018 STEM Teacher Grant Season Now Underway

The 2018 STEM Teacher Grant fundraising and celebration event planning is now underway.  Request for proposals have already been distributed to the teachers for 2018 (please download here and distribute to teachers you know).  Last year, INCOSE San Diego raised and awarded almost $10,000 to eleven local schools.  Note that 100 percent of all funds collected go to the schools, which teachers use in school and after-school programs to teach creative physics, robots, math, engineering, and technology concepts to future engineers.  Past awards include support for Hydrogen & Fuel Cells and BioFuels experiments, Coding and Raspberry Pi kits, Hazardous Materials Kits for Chemistry, and many, many more. 

INCOSE San Diego also hosts a fun STEM presentation event every fall for the teachers, students, our members and friends. Past locations include the USS Midway and the Legoland Aquarium, and our planning committee will announce the 2018 event's date and venue soon.

All SD INCOSE members are invited to get involved with this important and meaningful program.  If interested, please contact board member Jim Gottfried at or at 619-540-3830. Please inquire with your local companies - they may be interested in supporting us!
2018 Chapter Survey Results

Thanks to everyone who was able to answer our annual INCOSE San Diego survey.  Our event planning and 2018 Mini Conference committees are especially grateful for the detailed and helpful suggestions.  Please see the full results here

We value all suggestions and feedback any time of the year. Please feel free to email any of the board members -- their individual contact information is listed below. Thank you!
Mark Halverson Receives INCOSE Award

Congratulations to Mark Halverson for being awarded an INCOSE Outstanding Service Award for 2018.

Mark spent his 31-year engineering career in systems engineering and has a passion for the value and importance of systems engineering consistent with the goals and vision of INCOSE International.  Mark has been an active INCOSE member since joining in September 2000.  Mark has been an amazingly consistent supporter of the San Diego Chapter by serving on the Board of Directors for 13 years.  He has held almost every Board position, including President.  He has worked tirelessly to elevate the value and performance of the San Diego Chapter.  During Mark’s term as President, the Chapter earned the INCOSE Chapter Gold Award for the first time in its history.

Successful Software Defined Systems Tutorial

The May tutorial on Software Defined Systems and Embedded Systems Architecture for Wireless Communication was a successful and informative event.  The 22 attendees from different companies around San Diego and Los Angeles benefited from the guest lecturer, Chalena Jimenez, who is a Senior Software Engineer and Subject Matter Expert in Software Communications Architecture.  Although the attendees learned a lot from the lecture, the discussions initiated by many impromtu Q&A sessions created a very unique and unrepeatable learning experience.  The slides are available in the INCOSE SD website at  The video presented at the tutorial can be accessed at
It was a pleasure for me to organize the event and to be one of the participants.  I learned even more about Software Defined Radio and I met many people across San Diego involved in the field.  I look forward to the mini-conference in December where I hope to meet more of our members.  Please email me your topic recommendations for future tutorial and mini-conference events.
Howen Fernando 
INCOSE San Diego
VP for Technical Development

INCOSE San Diego Welcomes 14 New Members

INCOSE San Diego is pleased to welcome the following 14 new members representing the following companies to our chapter:
  • Marc Henderson, George Washington University
  • Renee Cinar, Southern California Edison
  • Frank Diaz
  • Michelle Rudney, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University
  • Matthew Hill, Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.
  • Paul Anderson, SAIC
  • Raymond Chow, Lockheed Martin Corporation
  • Rachel Kuhn, Northrop Grumman Corporation
  • Felipe Valverde, Sinergia Telecomunicaciones y Soluciones Integrales
  • Susanna Faruque, Northrop Grumman Corporation
  • Sean Pridmore, UCLA
  • Wendy Robello, Northrop Grumman
  • Justin Mayo, United States Navy
  • Thomas Pekar, Cubic
Please introduce yourself to a new member at one of our many events!
2018 INCOSE San Diego Board Contacts

Please feel free to contact a board member with suggestions or comments.

President - Ted Mulder,
Past-President - Richard Bryson,
President-Elect - Abbas Rostami,
Secretary - Mitch Seime,
VP Administration, Webmaster - Greg Bulla,
VP Chapter Development - Ray Madachy,
VP Technical  Development - Howen Fernando,
2nd-Year Director - Jim Gottfried,
1st-Year Director - Susanna Faruque,

You can also send general questions to:

PLEASE WELCOME new board member and 1st Year Director Susanna Faruque!  Susanna was just appointed to the board due to a recent opening (a previous board member needed to resign due to time and work schedule conflicts). Susanna's main responsibility will be both planning for our Fall STEM event and assisting in raising funds for STEM awards.  Please see her bio on our website here.