INCOSE Los Angeles November Meeting: Systems Architecting and the Political Process

    Meeting Title: Systems Architecting and the Political Process

    Presenter Name: Ken Cureton, USC

    Date: Tuesday, 14 November 2023

    Time: 5:30 pm – 7:30 PDT

    Venue: Online via Zoom; In person: The Aerospace Corp. D8/1010, 200 N Aviation Blvd, El Segundo, CA 90245



    Design and development of a typical major engineering system is often strongly influenced by political processes in governments and major corporations for funding & approval.  Systems Engineers are carefully trained in analytical techniques for dealing with risks related to cost, schedule, and performance challenges, but are often woefully unprepared for the role of governmental or corporate oversight of their projects—an area of Programmatic Risk as identified by INCOSE. 

    This presentation describes programmatic risk mitigation tools that can aid in understanding and surviving the political processes that inevitably affect engineering decisions. A real-world Case Study (the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster) is reviewed to demonstrate the impact of political processes and analyzed to reveal potential programmatic risk mitigation techniques.


    Kenneth Cureton
    (Ken) is a retired Senior Systems Engineer for The Boeing Company’s Defense, Space, & Security Systems: Phantom Works.  Mr. Cureton started his aerospace career at Rockwell Space Systems Division and worked on the Space Shuttle program after the Challenger disaster.  He also participated in other Manned Space, Launch Systems, Satellite Systems, Networked Systems, Cyber Security, and Defense Conversion programs, usually in Systems Engineering leadership positions.  He was employed as a Computer Hardware/Software and Systems Engineer for a total of 46 years in Government, Small Business, & Aerospace Sectors.

     Mr. Cureton currently serves as the Chairman of the INCOSE Resilient Systems Working Group, and is an Instructor of many Systems Architecting & Engineering (SAE) classes at the University of Southern California (USC).  He also serves on the AIAA Space Settlement Technical Committee (SSTC).  His prior professional affiliations include former co-chair of the IEEE MBSE Working Group, and Network-Centric Operations Industry Consortium (NCOIC) Technical Council Chair Emeritus.

    Mr. Cureton’s formal education includes a BS in High-Energy & Nuclear Physics, and an MS in Systems Architecting & Engineering.