CHARLES DICKERSON

Academic Lead- PSi Theme 1

1.  About myself:

As Chair of Systems Engineering in the Wolfson School at Loughborough University, I have dedicated myself to advanced research on, and the teaching of, a mathematically based scientific approach to Systems Engineering. The research has been the subject of more than 10 years of academic development, having begun in collaboration with the Georgia Institute of Technology whilst I was the Technical Fellow for Systems Engineering at BAE Systems in the US Electronic and Integrated Systems Operating Group (2004 - 2007).

The foundational research to include case studies has been published in a series of journal and conference papers beginning in 2007 which can be found in my University home page:

http://www.lboro.ac.uk/departments/eese/staff/charles-dickerson/

My academic research is motivated by real world challenges from my experience in complex systems, when I was the Aegis Systems Engineer for the US Navy Ballistic Missile Defence Programme (1997 – 1999); and as the Director of Architecture in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition (2000 – 2003).

This experience is complemented by my roles in advanced air vehicle and avionics design at Northrop Advanced Systems and the Lockheed Skunkworks (1984 – 1988). I also have extensive experience in flight test design and analysis through my positions at the US Centre for Naval Analyses and at Lincoln Laboratory in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Having received the PhD degree in 1980 from Purdue University, the breadth and depth of my experience in defence systems has been built on my enduring passion for mathematics, physics and problem solving.

I am very active in the international community to include the IEEE Systems, Man and Cybernetics Society; the Object Management Group; and the International Council on Systems Engineering, for which I am currently Assistant Technical Director for Knowledge.

 

2. My role and my work in PSi:

As the Principal Investigator for PSi Theme 1, which is concerned with the automotive vehicle as a complex system, I am applying my experience in defence systems and advances in academic research to the challenges of rapid virtual prototyping. Automotive and aerospace manufacturers need advanced capabilities for the integration of digital features into increasingly complex vehicles. I work with our Research Associates across a number of innovations in the theme and take deep dives where needed to ensure development of these capabilities.

Amongst the new innovations that Theme 1 is developing is the implementation of a mathematical framework called ROSETTA for interpretation between and increased concurrency in design, analysis and simulation. This is complemented by research on semantic integration of models and formal methods for early verification.

This will become part of a larger service-oriented virtual integration, design and analysis environment (VIDAE) being developed by the Theme 1 team at the University of Leeds. My role is to with work my co-investigator, Prof. Jie Xue, and the Leeds RAs for successful integration.

Concurrent with the cross domain research, my work with PSi also involves working with JLR on two substantial case studies, the first of which (on emissions control) is now finished. This timely case study has delivered automated methods for discovery of robust solutions.

 

3. The biggest challenge on PSi:

Theme 1, which is concerned with the automotive vehicle as a complex system, is itself a complex system. Maintaining strong progress on our ambitious multi-disciplinary innovations whilst staying focused on industrial impact is the biggest challenge. However, JLR is an outstanding industrial partner to work with and the two universities comprising Theme 1 have an excellent track record of collaboration. So, the challenge is surmountable.

 

4. Lessons learnt from working on PSi:

As I had expected, there was much for me to learn about the difference between engineering development of commercial systems versus the defence systems which I had previously known. This, of course, has been invaluable.

 

5. How PSi will help my career:

The opportunity to work closely with JLR engineers on PSi has not only been a fun experience; but has also offered my first opportunity to work with commercial industry.