Boeing names first fellow to new Systems Engineering research collaborative

This article was originally published April 18, 2013 on Boeing’s internal website

By Nathan Hulings

Boeing engineer Bill Harkness will be aligning his upcoming dissertation with the Systems Engineering Research Center to enhance research collaboration at the Commercial Airplanes Product Development group.

The Systems Engineering Research Center, or SERC, is a doctoral program that works collaboratively with 23 universities and more than 300 researchers across the United States. It enables doctoral systems engineers to develop their abilities, establish working relationships with mentors and conduct research in an environment that is beneficial to government, industry and academia.

Boeing was the first company to become a SERC industry partner last year. Recently, Harkness was named as the company's first fellow for the program.

Harkness, an enterprise domain engineer for Boeing’s Enterprise Technology Strategy, is nearing completion of his doctoral coursework in systems engineering at the Missouri University of Science and Technology (formerly known as University of Missouri, Rolla). He is beginning his dissertation research, work that could provide Boeing with potential avenues to break the cost curve and enhance innovation practice.

“I am extremely fortunate to be given the opportunity to enrich Boeing through my research and would love to see this practice continue with other employees,” Harkness said. “Boeing contributes so much towards the education of its workforce -- our work should contribute back in a way that makes the company better as a whole.”

Because Harkness works for Engineering, Operations & Technology and his research will support Commercial Airplanes Product Development’s Advanced Concepts and Product Evaluation organization, his work is a truly a “One Boeing success story,” said Marc Nance, enterprise domain leader for the Systems/Software Engineering & Analysis domain.

“When you look 20 or more years ahead at future products, many are neglected or dismissed due to a variety of factors,” Nance said. “Bill’s research on combining product development with computational intelligence will be used to promote the innovative practice at Boeing.”

Participating in the SERC framework allows Boeing to access other innovative thinkers and companies who are trying to improve the product development model, as well as contribute back per our doctoral fellow sponsorship, Nance added.