System 2020

Principal Investigator: Dr. Stan Rifkin, Stevens Institute of Technology (

Co-Principal Investigator: Dr. Barry Boehm, University of Southern California (

Timeframe:  March 2010 to December 2010; January 2011 to April 2012

Category:  Systems Engineering and Systems Management Transformation


Objectives: With the growth in system complexity, the DoD needs to make a comprehensive push to develop new SE foundations for the next decade. Systems 2020 is the research effort to answer a major portion of the challenge embodied in the DoD’s science and technology priority for Engineered Resilient Systems. This broader priority will develop, in this decade, engineering concepts, science, and design tools that enable defense systems to be resilient to attack and changes in the operational environment, and to develop agile design and manufacturing processes to enable systems to be rapidly reconfigured or adapted to new missions and threats. The Systems 2020 initiative will provide new capabilities and approaches for faster delivery of flexible and adaptive systems that are trusted, assured, reliable and interoperable. It is organized around four

Big Idea opportunity areas:

1) Model Based Engineering (MBE)

2) Platform-Based Engineering (PBE)

3) Capability on Demand (CoD), and

4) Trusted Systems Design (TSD)

The first part of the research supported DoD’s effort to create a research and development roadmap, coordinated with the Services and Agencies, to address the Systems 2020 challenges. As a follow on work, two tasks were defined:

  • to characterize the design and SE tools available to DoD projects, along with their potential for using these tools in integrated demonstrations of their capability to support representative future DoD systems acquisitions with respect to purpose, affordability, and interoperability.
  •  to define one or more representative future design challenge problems, and to determine key research ideas and directions that would enable DoD to cope with the challenges.

Approach: The study explored the four Big Idea opportunity areas by looking at the current state of the practice and state of the art, who the thought leaders are, and what the most promising research opportunities are to advance the Systems 2020 objective. A draft report was iterated several times with reviews from the Sponsor to support technical and programmatic decisions by the Sponsor.

Significant Research Findings: How DoD systems design and development will be transformed as a result of Systems 2020, and potential risks to the success of Systems 2020 were identified. Four high-leverage research areas that would be key to realizing the rapid and effective results described in the scenarios are identified:

  • Affordability, Agility, and Resilience
  • Enterprise Systems Engineering and Model Integration
  • Trusted Systems and Cyber Security
  • Human-Determined Systems


Publications:  none to date

Research Team


  • Dr. Stan Rifkin, Stevens Institute of Technology
  • Dr. Barry Boehm, University of Southern California
  • Dr. William Rouse, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Dr. Abhijit Deshmukh, Purdue University
  • Dr. Jon Wade, Stevens Institute of Technology
  • Dr. Michael Griffin, University of Alabama in Huntsville
  • Dr. Barry Horowitz, University of Virginia


Collaborating Institutions

Project Researchers