DE&S Fellow Duncan Kemp Speaks at MIT

By Lois Slavin, SDM Communications Director

MIT’s System Design & Management (SDM) program was honored to host a presentation in January 2016 by Duncan Kemp, Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) Fellow in the UK Ministry of Defence. Kemp spoke to SDM master’s students about how capability systems engineering has been used to understand different stakeholder positions, improve railroad capacity, and develop train requirements.

Kemp began with a brief overview of his career, which has spanned more than 25 years as a systems engineer—including service as chief systems engineer in the UK Ministry of Defence and Department for Transport. He was lead author of the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) UK Capability Systems Engineering Guide and an author of the INCOSE Systems Engineering Vision 2025.

As the DE&S Fellow for Systems Engineering, Kemp is responsible for ensuring that the DE&S’ approaches are informed by global best practices.

Kemp discussed many important specifics, including:

  • use of systems engineering in World War II;
  • how soft systems methodology can be used to understand different stakeholder viewpoints;
  • ways to employ system dynamics and Monte Carlo simulations to improve railroad capacity; and
  • use of capability systems engineering to develop train requirements.

After Kemp’s presentation, US Army Captain J.D. Caddell, an SDM fellow, said, “It was interesting and valuable to learn about Duncan’s professional experience in applying systems engineering for the defense, information services, and rail industries. He demonstrated how the methodologies and tools we are learning in SDM are being applied in a diverse set of industries in the UK.”

SDM alumnus John Helferich, a member of SDM’s teaching staff and an MIT PhD student, said, “In the US we tend to hear the same kinds of examples of systems engineering. Learning about the UK experience, especially the work Duncan led in the rail industry, broadened our perspective.”

Helferich added, “In short, Duncan’s presentation was fantastic. Now we just need to work out how to get him back to Boston for a follow-up session!”