AAE 35103 Spring 2009 v2

Prof. Karen Marais


This course has one major goal: To enable you to bring marketing, design and manufacturing together in an effective, coordinated manner to produce useful, high quality products.

We will achieve this goal by:

Studying and applying formal design methods to aerospace systems design in an individual and team environment

Blending engineering analysis with the management techniques required to produce high quality aerospace products

Studying industrial examples of both good and bad design development

Aircraft and space systems are complex, integrated combinations of advanced component technologies. Aerospace product development requires marketing, project management, innovative multidisciplinary design and cost-effective manufacturing. In this course we will learn how aircraft and space systems are developed, deployed and interact with larger systems. Systems engineering and structured design methods form the backbone of this organized approach.

This course will provide you with fundamental knowledge of aerospace product development processes using modern design methodology and a systems engineering approach. The primary focus is on a clear, detailed methodology to employ product development methods that bring together marketing, design and manufacturing functions. Systems engineering forms a core for product development, as do structured design methods that organize efforts and stimulate innovation. These methods include Pugh’s method, Weighted Objectives and QFD.


Competence in the use of structured design tools and methods for product design and development.

Awareness of the multiple skills and perspectives required to create a new product (including marketing, finance, industrial design, engineering, production).

Ability to coordinate multiple, interdisciplinary tasks to achieve a common objective.


I cannot guarantee responses to emails or voicemail. The best thing is to stop by my office. If my door is open, I’m available, even if only for a minute. If I am too busy to talk, I’ll schedule an appointment with you for later.

Make use of our time in class to ask lots of questions. Remember, if you’re wondering about something, chances are someone else is too!


No text—notes will be distributed in class or on the web.


This course is intended to provide you with an approach and tools to take an ill-defined product opportunity all the way to conceptual design with major components integrated effectively. This design should display enough detail so that someone can analyze its operation and postulate whether or not there is a business case strong enough to take the design to the next developmental level. Unlike the capstone courses, AAE450 and AAE451, this course focuses on process and tools.

Within the systems engineering process we organize and use tools and methods to:

Turn visionary words into design requirements that reflect what the customer wants and needs;

Create ideas for the concepts that will satisfy these requirements;

Select the most viable concepts; and,

Choose the concept to take to the detailed development phase.

If the process is haphazard we may fail to satisfy the customer or worse yet, generate a competitive concept but fail to get it to the customer in time.

Effective system design is all about using time and effort wisely to create effective, innovative systems that satisfy or even astonish the customer.


The good news: No final exam

The other good news: You will work in teams over the course of the semester to design a system. The majority of your grade will be determined by this project.

You will be graded on both individual and team work. There will be several team presentations over the course of the semester. Make sure that you present at least once—it’s not only a valuable opportunity to improve your public speaking skills, but will also contribute to your individual grade.

Individual assignments will also be given out from time to time. These will typically involve writing short responses to class readings. You will also be graded on class participation. Be prepared to discuss the readings in class!

Your grade will be calculated as follows:

Team project: 70%

Individual work and class participation: 30%

The team will be assigned a grade for the course. This grade will be adjusted up or down depending on your “buddy rating”. The buddy rating is determined by your team members at the end of the semester. You should therefore determine your participation level according to the grade you wish to receive! And of course it’s also important to resolve any team conflicts in a timely manner—this is part of any working environment.

Prototype Course Outline

In general, there will be two lectures a week. During the other slot we will do in-class work, group discussions, or team presentations.

The prototype detailed course outline below provides a general idea of how we’ll be progressing this semester. Assignments and due dates for later in the semester will be finalized as we progress. Be prepared for additional short individual assignments over the course of the semester.

If I find that we are running slow, I will remove some of the advanced topics at the end of the semester. It’s essential that you have a good grip of the basic systems engineering tools.

AEE 35103 Course Outline Update







23 March

Concept Testing and Prototyping

Team IIIc: Generate plan for concept testing. Suggest prototyping approaches.


Thomke, Stefan. "Enlightened Experimentation: The New Imperative for Innovation." Harvard Business Review (February 2001): 66-75.



25 March

Lecture: Topics in System Realisation I—Software Issues



Augustine, Norman, “Yes, but will it work in theory?” 1996 Woodruff Distinguished Lecture Transcript.



27 March

Lecture: Topics in System Realisation—Design for Manufacturing






30 March

Movie: The Columbia Disaster



Feynman, Richard. 1986. “Personal observations on the reliability of the shuttle”, Appendix to the Rogers Commission.

James Oberg. 1999. “Why The Mars Probe Went Off Course”, IEEE Spectrum 36(12).

Saleh JH, Marais K, “Highlights from the early (and pre-) history of reliability engineeringReliability Engineering & System Safety (91)2, 2006.



1 April

Lecture: Reliability and Safety Analysis I

Team IV: Risk Analysis

Team IIIc: Documented prototyping and concept testing plan.




3 April

Lecture: Reliability and Safety Analysis II






6 April

Lecture: Reliability and Safety Analysis III






8 April

Lecture: Cost Analysis I

Team V: Cost Analysis

Team IV: Documented Risk Analysis




10 April

Lecture: Cost Analysis II






13 April

In-class work: Cost Analysis






15 April

Movie: Airbus Part II

Team VI: Financial Analysis

Team V: Cost Analysis

J.H. Saleh, K. Marais, “Reliability: How much is it worth? Beyond its estimation or prediction, the (net) present value of reliability”, Reliability Engineering & System Safety, 91(6), June 2006.



17 April

Lecture: Advanced Concepts in Financial Analysis I






20 April

Lecture: Advanced Concepts in Financial Analysis II






22 April

Catch-up week


Team VI: Financial Analysis




24 April







27 April

Teams: Final Presentations






29 April







May 1

Course evaluation and Lessons Learnt






4 May

Exam week