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BKCASE: Body of Knowledge and Curriculum to Advance Systems Engineering Status Update. Dave Olwell, Department of Systems Engineering, NPS IEEE Systems Conference. What is BKCASE?. Project led by Stevens Institute of Technology and Naval Postgraduate School to create two primary products:

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Dave olwell department of systems engineering nps ieee systems conference l.jpg


Body of Knowledge and Curriculum to Advance Systems Engineering

Status Update

Dave Olwell,Department of Systems Engineering, NPS

IEEE Systems Conference

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What is BKCASE?

  • Project led by Stevens Institute of Technology and Naval Postgraduate School to create two primary products:

    • Body of Knowledge in systems engineering (SEBoK)

    • Graduate Reference Curriculum in Systems Engineering (GRCSE)

  • Started in September 2009 and will run through 2012

  • Intended for world-wide use

  • Not intended to be used directly for accreditation

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BKCASE Vision and Objectives


“Systems Engineering competency models, certification programs, textbooks, graduate programs, and related workforce development initiatives around the world align with BKCASE.”


Create a SEBoK that is globally recognized by the SE community as the authoritative BoK for the SE discipline.

Create a graduate reference curriculum for SE (GRCSE – pronounced “Gracie”) that is globally recognized by the SE community as the authoritative guidance for graduate programs in SE.

Facilitate the global alignment of related workforce development initiatives with SEBoK and GRCSE.

Transfer stewardship of SE BoK and GRCSE to INCOSE and the IEEE after BKCASE publishes version 1.0 of those products, including possible integration into their certification, accreditation, and other workforce development and education initiatives.


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37 Authors as of April 2010

30-31 March 2010


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SEBoK Value Proposition

There is no authoritative source that defines and organizes the knowledge of the SE discipline, including its methods, processes, practices, and tools. The resulting knowledge gap creates unnecessary inconsistency and confusion in understanding the role of SE in projects and programs; and in defining SE products and processes.  SEBOK will fill that gap, becoming the “go to” SE reference.

The process of creating the SEBoK will help to build community consensus on the boundaries and context of SE thinking and to use this to help understand and improve the ability of management, science and engineering disciplines to work together.

Having a common way to refer to SE knowledge will facilitate communication among systems engineers and provide a baseline for competency models, certification programs, educational programs, and other workforce development initiatives around the world.  Having common ways to identify metadata about SE knowledge will facilitate search and other automated actions on SE knowledge.


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GRCSE Value Proposition

  • There is no authoritative source to guide universities in establishing the outcomes graduating students should achieve with a master’s degree in SE, nor a guidance source on reasonable entrance expectations, curriculum architecture, or curriculum content.

  • This gap in guidance creates unnecessary inconsistency in student proficiency at graduation, makes it harder for students to select where to attend, and makes it harder for employers to evaluate prospective new graduates.

  • GRCSE will fill that gap, becoming the “go to” reference to develop, modify, and evaluate graduate programs in SE.

    • Initial focus is on systems engineering centric programs.

    • Approach to Domain centric programs is still under discussion.


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SWEBOK and GSwE2009 Challenges?

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SWEBOK Challenges?

  • SWEBOK is a way of organizing all the knowledge that is within the software engineering (SwE) discipline

  • It is a hierarchical structure for the knowledge and references to key documents stating the knowledge as of 2004

  • It was developed by a community of authors and reviewers from around the world

  • It is static – it has not changed since it was published

  • A refresh project is underway to produce a new version in 2010


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SWEBOK Example Challenges?


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SWEBOK Topic Text Challenges?


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What is GSwE2009? Challenges?

  • Recommendations for faculty who are creating or updating a graduate program in software engineering (SwE)

  • Secondarily, it can be used by employers selecting new SwE graduates, and students selecting graduate programs

  • Intended for world-wide use

  • Not intended to be used directly for accreditation

  • Two companion documents released in November 2009

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GSwE2009 Structure Challenges?

  • Guidance for Constructing and Maintaining GSwE2009: the fundamental principles, assumptions, and context for the GSwE2009 authors

  • Entrance Expectations: what students should be capable of and have experienced before they enter a graduate program

  • Outcomes: what students should achieve by graduation

  • Architecture: the structure of a curriculum to accommodate core material, university-specific material, and elective material

  • Core Body of Knowledge (CBOK): material that all students should master in a graduate SwE program

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GSwE2009 Operational Concept Challenges?

  • For a program that fully satisfies the GSwE2009 recommendations:

    Each student should arrive meeting all entrance expectations, participate in a program that follows the architecture, master the entire CBOK, and achieve all the outcomes

  • HOWEVER, because this is a reference curriculum, actual programs will likely choose to deviate from some GSwE2009 recommendations – this is both expected and reasonable

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Project History and Process Challenges?

  • Project to create Graduate Software Engineering Reference Curriculum (GSwERC) started in July 2007 at Stevens Institute of Technology with Department of Defense funding (GSwERC renamed in August to GSwE2009)

  • DoD agreed at beginning of project to take a “hands off” approach to technical content – critical to achieving primary objective

  • Formed Early Start Team of about 15 authors who met in August 2007 to shape project

  • Early Start Team gradually expanded and became Curriculum Author Team (CAT)

  • Workshop held every 3 months to synchronize work, adjust plan, and approve interim products – workshop minutes posted on website

  • Email, WebEx, and teleconferences to conduct business between workshops

  • Teams formed to work on specific sections of GSwE2009

  • Open and transparent operations at all times

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More History and Process Challenges?

  • Built GSwE2009 on foundation documents, primarily SWEBOK, SE2004, and INCOSE Handbook

  • Created GSwE2009 incrementally and iteratively – Version 0.25 in February 2008, Version 0.5 in October 2008, Version 1.0 in September 2009

  • Invited reviewers for Version 0.25, unlimited review for Version 0.5

  • More than 100 reviewers from 23 countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Sweden, Thailand, UK, US

  • About 800 review comments for Version 0.5, each adjudicated

  • Numerous presentations and workshops to obtain feedback, and to generate awareness and demand:

    • NDIA SE 2007, NDIA SE 2008, SIGCSE 2008, INCOSE IS 2008, ASEE 2008; APCOSE 2008;INCOSE IS 2009, CSEET 2009, ICSE 2009, SIGCSE 2009, CSEET 2010, ICSE 2010, INCOSE IS 2010, SSTC 2010, ASEE 2010

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Curriculum Architecture Challenges?

BSEE and BSCE graduates

Old degree,recent experience

Business graduates

BSSE and BSCS graduates

Other degree,some experience

BS + extensive experience



Baseline: Expected capability of CS and SE Graduates







Capstone Experience

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Lessons Learned: GSwE2009 Challenges?

Involve professional societies from the very beginning

Build a highly diverse author team from the start

Create a sense of camaraderie among the author team

Actively seek reviewers from global stakeholders

Hold face-to-face workshops at least once every 3 months

Establish a project plan early but expect it to evolve – most of the labor is voluntary and reviewers will throw curve balls

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BKCASE Revisited Challenges?

  • Project led by Stevens Institute of Technology and Naval Postgraduate School that is creating two primary products:

    • Body of Knowledge in systems engineering (SEBoK)

    • Graduate Reference Curriculum in Systems Engineering (GRCSE)

  • Started in September 2009 and will run through 2012

  • Intended for world-wide use

  • Not intended to be used directly for accreditation

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BKCASE Staffing Challenges?

  • BKCASE is an open, collaborative project with international participation sought from academia, industry, government, related projects, and professional societies.

  • Art Pyster (Stevens) is Principal Investigator (PI); Dave Olwell (NPS) is Co-Principal Investigator. Alice Squires, Stephanie Enck and Nicole Hutchinson are key researchers.

  • BKCASE sought 30-40 active volunteer authors + several hundred volunteer reviewers. Nearly 40 authors have already signed up.

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More BKCASE Staffing Challenges?

  • Each participating professional society will provide at least one active author. (INCOSE has agreed to participate and fund 3 authors. IEEE Systems Council has 2: John Baras and Ken Nidiffer.)

  • Authors are invited onto the project by the Principal Investigators (PI); anyone is welcome to be a reviewer.

  • BKCASE will pay for authors to attend workshops to the extent possible, analogous to GSwE2009. First workshop took place December 8-9 at Naval Postgraduate School. Second Workshop took place 30-31 March at ERAU.

  • BKCASE will generally not pay for the labor of authors or reviewers.

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Tentative line-up Challenges?

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BKCASE Products Challenges?

  • BKCASE will iteratively deliver a SE BoK and a reference curriculum for a master’s degree in SE together with supplementary material (i.e., case studies) to facilitate their dissemination and adoption.

  • Products freely available without charge provided credit is given.

  • Ideally, any other SE BoK or curriculum effort would merge with BKCASE and efforts to create or evolve SE competency models and certification programs would closely coordinate with BKCASE.

  • Nominal schedule is:

    • SE BoK: Version 0.25 June 2010, Version 0.5 June 2011, Version 1.0 June 2012

    • Reference Curriculum: Version 0.25 September 2010, Version 0.5 September 2011, Version 1.0 September 2012

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Strategy Challenges?

Publish incrementally/iteratively with GRCSE trailing SEBoK

Create common vocabulary to facilitate communications among the team

Throughout the project, involve professional societies to facilitate quality, acceptance, and their eventual role as stewards

Build early consensus and maintain it throughout the lifetime of the project

Rely on and include academia, industry, and government from multiple fields for authors and reviewers

Extensively leverage volunteer labor for both authoring and review

Rely on existing source material wherever possible and involve principals from efforts that created source material wherever possible

Leverage the processes used to create GSwE2009 and the NPS Modeling and Simulation Acquisition Curriculum

Keep completely open and collaborative at a global level – but authors make content decisions

Hold physical workshops every 3 months to synchronize teams and build team relationships – rely on virtual meetings, email, and other collaboration technology at other times

Keep the team focused on the value propositions when conflicts arise.


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Primary Technical Decisions 1-2 Challenges?

  • The SEBoK organizes domain independent SE knowledge. It provides a structure for that knowledge, defines important terms, summarizes important topics, selectively helps users choose among popular alternative methods, facilitates search, printing, and application by its intended users, and identifies references which elaborate more fully on all topics. For Version 0.25, the SEBoK will include a set of primary references based on the expert opinion of the SEBoK authors. For subsequent versions, secondary references may be added.

  • The BKCASE Project will develop recommendations on how INCOSE and the IEEE will maintain and evolve SEBoK in accordance with the BKCASE charter, assuming those organizations become stewards of SEBoK after Version 1.0 is released. Version 1.0 of SEBoK itself will include features to facilitate its maintenance and evolution, including the ability for SEBoK users to readily propose new references and evaluate existing references, as well as readily propose changes to all other aspects of the SEBoK.


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Primary Technical Decisions 3-4 Challenges?

  • Primary direct SEBoK users will be (a) practicing systems engineers ranging from novices up through senior experts, (b) those responsible for defining and implementing SE processes within organizations, projects, and programs; (c) those responsible for certifying systems engineers and developing certification programs; (d) customers of SE organizations to help them better select and evaluate those organizations; (e) any project manager, engineer, technologist, researcher, or scientist who needs to know about SE; (f) those who educate and train systems engineers; and (g) the GRCSE author team. The SEBoK will facilitate easy access and use by these different types of users.

  • Secondary SEBoK users will be human resource professionals and other workforce development professionals, senior non-technical managers, and lawyers who will use the SEBoK with the support of systems engineers. The SEBoK will facilitate easy access and use by these users.


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Primary Technical Decisions 5-6 Challenges?

  • The ISO/IEC/IEEE 15288 process structure will be the initial architecture for the SEBoK. The authors will divide into several teams. Each team will be assigned non-overlapping subsets of 15288 processes. Each team will independently develop initial SEBoK content for their process subset, including methods, techniques, and primary references, taking into account primary and secondary SEBoK users. At Workshop 2, the results of the individual team efforts will be jointly evaluated by the entire author team leading to a revised architecture.

  • Version 0.25 of the SEBoK will be domain independent. Domain dependent knowledge will be captured through case studies of individual systems within specific domains. Those case studies will be companion documents to Version 0.25. After Version 0.25 is complete, the decision to use case studies as the only means to capture domain specific knowledge will be revisited.


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Table of Contents as of April 2010 Challenges?

  • Executive Summary

  •  Introduction (Overview)

    • Purpose of BoK

    • Scope

  • System Concepts

    • System Definition – what is a system

    • Systems Thinking

  • Fundamentals

    •  Value/Quality

    •  Principles of SE

    • Integration of other disciplines such as software engineering and project management

    • Socio-technical Issues (Context)

    • SE Standards

    • Application domains (describes each)

  • SE Approach and Practices

    • Life Cycles

    • Organization

    • Management

    • Technical

    • Agreement

    • Specialty Engineering/Design Considerations

  • SE Artifacts

  • SE Applications/Case Studies

  • SE Competency (ethics, statistical modeling, …)

  • Glossary

  • Other Closing Matter

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    GRCSE Outline as of April 2010 Curriculum

    • Intro/front matter

    • Curricular Objectives

    • Curricular Outcomes

    • Entrance expectations

    • Curriculum architecture

    • Common Body Of Knowledge (CBOK)

    • Assessment

    • Maintenance / refresh

    • Closing matter

    • Appendix: catalog of programs / benchmarks

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    Tentative Line-up for GRCSE Curriculum

    • Tim Ferris (lead)

    • Alice Squires*

    • J.J. Ekstrom

    • Mary van Leer

    • Dave Olwell

    • Tom Hilburn*

    • Massood Towhidnejad*

    • Guilherme Travassos*

    • Rick Adcock*

    • Eric Bonjour

      * means participated in GSwE2009

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    State of BKCASE Curriculum

    • Significant funding support from US Department of Defense

    • INCOSE, IEEE Systems Council, IEEE Computer Society Educational Activities Board, ACM, and the NDIA Systems Engineering Division are all participants

    • Seeking participation from Brazilian Computer Society

    • Seeking authors from medical, power, and transportation industries.

    • Explicitly seek INCOSE and the IEEE to become sponsors and assume maintenance and revision responsibilities after Version 1.0 is published

    • First two workshops complete; initial teams formed to create Version 0.25, due out this summer; next 4 workshops scheduled; special events at INCOSE IW and EuSEC scheduled; presentation scheduled at SSTC

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    We are working it! Curriculum

    • Questions?

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    www.BKCASE.org Curriculum