Class photo of the 2012 Systems Engineering Leadership Development Program (SELDP) graduates with NASA Chief Engineer Mike Ryschkewitsch (far left), Boeing Chief Engineer Paul Lambertson (second from left), and NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden (center).
NASA HQ/ Carla Cioffi (Click image for full size.)
The 2012 Systems Engineering Leadership Development Program (SELDP) graduated nine new systems engineers.
Members of the 2012 class each had a rotational assignment at a new center, benefitted from workshops and training, and had the opportunity to participate in benchmarking visits at organizations including Boeing, Costco, and Blue Origin.
"We are an organization from which people have come to expect engineering excellence,” said NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, who visited the 2012 class on graduation day. “That's not something that just happens. We have to groom people to be that way."
Paul Lambertson, chief engineer at Boeing and keynote speaker for the graduation, applauded NASA’s commitment to investing in its systems engineering capability through the SELDP program. “Systems engineering is the art and science of focusing in on lifecycle processes.” Not everyone has the ability or the experience to know how to do that, he explained.
"You are the heart of how things become good, and also the brain," he said. While process is important, it is the skeleton of what systems engineering is all about. He warned against becoming too reliant on “checking the box.” Ultimately, he said, “Systems engineering is about people.”
NASA Chief Engineer Mike Ryschkewitsch congratulated the class on completing the program. "You're no longer the expert in electrical engineering or materials,” he said. “What [your team needs] to know is that you can listen to them all and adjudicate them." He shared insight into his own career, making tough decisions, and leading a team. "You are going to be trusted repeatedly over the course of your careers with a big responsibility," he added. “You're being asked to lead people and you will need to ask, what do they need from you?”
SELDP grew out of a need identified by NASA leadership and the Office of the Chief Engineer for an agency-wide leadership development program that would help identify and accelerate the development high-potential system engineers, with a focus on specific leadership behaviors and technical capabilities that are critical to success in the NASA context. Headed by Christine Williams of the NASA Academy of Program/Project & Engineering Leadership (APPEL), SELDP aims to develop and improve leadership skills and technical capabilities. The 2012 class brings the total number of graduates to well over sixty systems engineers.