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UT Arlington latest university to join NASA group investigating best ways to design aerospace systems

Tuesday, August 18, 2015 • Media Contact: Herb Booth

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The University of Texas at Arlington is the newest member of NASA’s Systems Engineering Consortium, which is funded by Marshall Space Flight Center and Langley Research Center. 

Paul Componation

Paul Componation, chair of the Industrial, Manufacturing, and Systems Engineering Department, is part of a team focused on creating better, more resilient systems.

The consortium brings together systems engineering researchers from universities across the country, including George Washington University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, The University of Alabama in Huntsville and the University of Colorado.

Paul Componation, chair of UT Arlington’s Industrial, Manufacturing, and Systems Engineering Department, says that the consortium is looking at both the complexity of advanced aerospace systems and the organizational structures that design and build these systems. The UT Arlington research team is focusing on how to build and manage a more resilient systems engineering design organization to support NASA’s Space Launch System. 

“Today’s design environment has hundreds, if not thousands, of engineers working together,” Componation said. “They’re separated by distance, time, education, language and even culture. Pulling these teams together is a major design challenge.”

According to Componation, the increased pressure on government funding means more attention on both the cost to design and to operate new systems. Often the design team is one of the most expensive parts to manage.

Khosrow Behbehani, dean of the College of Engineering, lauded the research and its potential benefits.

“This research can lead to important discoveries in how to manage complex design projects, such as a space launch system, a transportation network or a communications system,” Behbehani said. “It is an excellent example of the University’s desire for research in the area of data-driven discovery, and our collaboration with the other members of the consortium will enhance our relationships with our peers far beyond this project.”

UT Arlington’s highly diverse campus is an important part of the group’s research, because it is a microcosm of the world and allows Componation and his team to model diverse groups without having to travel the globe.

“Our campus is a great laboratory for this type of work,” Componation said. “It’s expensive to study distributed design teams, but I don’t I have to travel that far. I can just go out on campus. UTA’s diversity makes it a great laboratory for this type of work.”

Joining Componation in his research are Susan Ferreira, associate professor of Industrial, Manufacturing, and Systems Engineering, Shan Sun-Mitchell, professor of mathematics, and Geoffrey Schuette, a graduate student in the Mathematics Department.

About The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution of more than 51,000 students in campus-based and online degree programs and is the second largest institution in The University of Texas System. The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked UT Arlington as one of the 20 fastest-growing public research universities in the nation in 2014. U.S. News & World Report ranks UT Arlington fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. The University is a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is ranked as a “Best for Vets” college by Military Times magazine. Visit to learn more, and find UT Arlington rankings and recognition at


-- Written by Jeremy Agor