The MIT Systems Engineering Advancement Research Initiative (SEAri) partners with government, industry, and academia to advance systems engineering theory and practice within multiple domains including space, aerospace, transportation, and infrastructure systems.

SEAri seeks to advance the theories, methods, and effective practice of systems engineering by applying sociotechnical methods in:

  • Sociotechnical Decision Making
  • Architecting Systems of Systems
  • Designing for Value Sustainment
  • Systems Engineering in the Enterprise

The increasing complexity of modern systems requires the development and deployment of methods and principles for effective conceptualization, development, testing, and sustainment of systems in a dynamic and uncertain environment. In the domain of complex systems there are tremendous opportunities for success and equally tremendous risks of failure. Many recent studies and analyses have shown that there are three significant challenges that motivate SEAri’s research: 

  1. Traditional systems engineering practices are not sufficient for architecting and evolving complex systems and systems of systems (SoS).
  2. While sound traditional systems engineering practices exist, these are not always effectively adapted to accommodate modern systems.
  3. The future workforce must be prepared to address the increasingly complex systems challenges of a highly dynamic and uncertain world.

SEAri’s methods, metrics, processes, and tools empower decision makers, designers, engineers, analysts, and architects to develop systems that can perform well in spite of changes in needs and contexts (including changing technologies, policies, markets, etc.).

Recent Research

  • System of Systems Architecting with the “ilities”
  • Metrics for Adaptability and Flexibility
  • Affordability Trade-offs Under Uncertainty using Epoch-Era Analysis
  • Interactive Tradespace Exploration for Multi-Stakeholder Negotiations
  • Design Stage Risk and Uncertainty Management in Marine Systems Design

SEAri Methods
SEAri has developed new methods and approaches that are being applied in real-world practice. These include:

  • Multi-Attribute Tradespace Exploration (MATE)
  • Dynamic MATE
  • Responsive Systems Comparison (RSC)
  • Epoch-Era Analysis (EEA)
  • SoS Architecting with the “ilities” (SAIP)


Donna Rhodes
Director, Systems Engineering Advancement Research Initiative
Senior Lecturer, Engineering Systems

Adam Ross
Systems Engineering Advancement Research Initiative
Lead Research Scientist