Concept Exploration Phase Paper: Systems Engineering Process

Systems Engineering Process, Part 2

Part 2 extends the Part 1 work that addressed the needs analysis phase and takes the system

through the concept exploration phase. In Part 1, you built a case to justify initiating the

development of a new system that provides a solution to a problem that you identified. Part

2 explores a broad but differentiated set of system concepts to meet the need.

Starting with the Part 1 paper, update the paper according to instructor feedback and

additional lessons learned in the course. Additional updates may also be needed as you

continue through the rest of the concept development phases, as this is an iterative process.

For the concept exploration phase, first identify the functions that the system will need to

perform. These should be categorized into the following:

  • Input functions
  • Transformative functions
  • Output functions
  • These functions should be defined no further than needed to describe the system and what the

    system needs to do (at the system level).

    Next, develop a system context diagram using the following guidelines:

  • The system context diagram provides the boundary of what is in the system and what
  • is outside of the system

  • The system context diagram shows the key external system interfaces and provides
  • unique labels for all the interfaces and external entities

  • The system context diagram includes primary users, maintainers, trainers, and other
  • stakeholders that interface to the system during the operational phase

  • The system context diagram includes the environmental interfaces (input and output)
  • The system context diagram includes an interface to its energy source
  • The system context diagram addresses signals, data, materials, energy, and forces (as
  • applicable)

    Then define a top-level functional block diagram. Guidelines for the top-level functional

    diagram are:

  • There should be about three to six functions at this level (with some exceptions
  • possible)

  • The functional block diagram should show all the inputs and outputs of the system
  • going to and from at least one of the functions (or to the whole system, if applicable)

  • There should be internal interfaces between at least some (if not all) of the functions
  • inside the system; and these interfaces should be labeled uniquely (different names)

    from the system inputs and outputs

  • Functions should be labeled using verbs
  • Every function should have at least one input and one output
  • Next, develop the functional and performance requirements. That is, the functional

    requirements cover what the system has to do to meet the need, and the performance

    requirements cover how well the system has to perform those functions. Functional

    requirements focus on the capabilities of the system. Performance requirements address the

    characteristics of the system and include a quantitative measure.

    NOTE: You probably do not have subject matter expertise in the system domain that you

    chose, and so the performance requirements can be stated with TBD values or estimated


    For the last part of the concept exploration phase, define a broad differentiated set of four to

    eight system concepts that will be considered. A hybrid of concepts is acceptable as its own

    concept (bridge, tunnel, island combination). These system concepts can be upgrades to

    existing systems, new COTS or technology driven systems, an integration of various existing

    technologies or approaches in a unique way, or other unique or creative system solutions.

    Guidelines include:

  • The concepts address the operational, functional, and performance requirements
  • Four to eight different kinds of concepts are considered; one or two can be hybrids of
  • the other concepts

    The paper should demonstrate your understanding of the Kossiakoff systems engineering life

    cycle. The Part 2 portion of the paper should be about 3 – 5 pages long (not counting charts,

    figures, title page, reference list, etc.).

    Make sure to add a title page to your paper and include your references (on the last page).

    Feel free to use an APA format or another citation format of your choosing.

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