2004 Purdue–Silicon Valley Symposia

System of Systems

In August 2002, the College of Engineering at Purdue University began an effort to identify “signature areas” as part of the commitment to reinforce our standing as a preeminent academic engineering institution. The University administration has allocated 75 new faculty positions, above the current number of engineering faculty, to pursue highly relevant, multidisciplinary activities in discovery, learning, and engagement. During the spring 2003 semester, signature areas were identified based upon proposals submitted by engineering faculty members. The eight selected areas are: advanced materials and manufacturing; global sustainable industrial systems; information, communication and perception technologies; intelligent infrastructure systems; nanotechnologies and nanophotonics; renewable energy and power systems; tissue and cellular engineering; and system of systems. Academic planning, multidisciplinary collaborations, and faculty searches for these eight areas began during May 2003.

This presentation will provide an introduction of the system of systems signature area. This includes discussion about system of systems, an overview of the signature area—including the main research areas and current efforts, and finally an overview of three example problems that could be used as starting points for discussion and research into problem formulation and solution techniques for systems of systems. While the discussion will rely upon aerospace and defense examples, because of the author’s familiarity in this domain, other non-aerospace-centric examples exist.

Bill Crossley

Associate Professor
Aeronautics and Astronautics
Purdue University


William A. Crossley is an associate professor in the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Purdue University, where he has been a faculty member since September 1995. His major research interests are in the areas of design methodologies and optimization, with specific emphasis for aerospace system design problems. His current research efforts include investigating small UAVs, morphing aircraft, and system of systems. At Purdue, he teaches “Introduction to Aerospace Design” as a cornerstone design course to sophomores, and “Aircraft Design” as the capstone design course for seniors; he also teaches graduate courses titled “Multidisciplinary Design Optimization” and “Design Theory and Methods for Aerospace Systems.”

In addition to his position at Purdue, Crossley has worked as a consultant for The Aerospace Corporation, NextGen Aeronautics, and the Institute for Defense Analyses. He participated in the 1996 AFOSR Summer Faculty Researchers Program in the Flight Dynamics Directorate at Wright Laboratory (now AFRL/VA). Similarly, he participated in the 1998 and 2000 NASA/ASEE Summer Faculty Fellowship Programs with the Multidisciplinary Design Optimization Branch at NASA Langley Research Center. During summer 2002, Crossley was selected as one of nine Boeing Welliver Faculty Summer Fellows, and worked with several organizations within Boeing in St. Louis and Seattle with a focus on Boeing’s systems engineering and system of systems efforts.

Crossley graduated from the University of Michigan with a BS in engineering (aerospace) in May 1990. In May 1992, he received a MS in aerospace engineering from Arizona State University as a member of the ASU Industrial Fellows Program, where he had the corporate sponsorship of McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Systems (MDHS). Crossley was awarded the AIAA Abe M. Zarem Award in 1993 for work resulting from his master’s thesis. He continued at ASU to earn a PhD in August 1995, again with the support of MDHS. In these positions, Crossley worked as an engineer with the Advanced Concept Development Group at MDHS from 1990 to 1995, where he participated in several design studies for advanced helicopters and high-speed rotorcraft.

Crossley is an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), a member of the American Helicopter Society (AHS), and an associate member of the International Society for Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization (ISSMO).