System architecting musings

| No TrackBacks

Well, I have to make up for lost time, I've busy as a Hebrew slave these several days. I have not had very much time to drop jewelz on your melon. Best news would be that Summer classes will be done next week. Couldn't come a day too soon. Don't get me wrong, I do appreciate the mental stimulation, but the program has been zapping all of my energy. In fact, this compressed Summer session really wasn't much fun at all. For instance, we were tasked with designing concept for a human powered dragster, the event is sponsored by Red Bull and others.

Sounds cool huh, well one should understand that I am also taking a Project Management course too. Clearly, the business course will always be the saving grace, but it still is complete with reading assignments, team projects and other deliverables. Suffice to say, designing the dragster would be a royal PITA. A quick review of the dragster requirements reveals that there really are not that many constraints. Essentially, you have an open ended assignment, which opens up pandora's box. It was a team assignment, (which also offers its own set of challenges), and we had to write a paper and deliver a presentation. I was responsible for the benchmarking data for five subsystems (chassis, propulsion, braking, steering, and suspension). Performing the research was not too difficult, as the net has plenty of information about recumbent bikes/trikes. The only problem I experienced was collecting real world bike riding data. Actually, I could only time myself riding at a leisurely speed for 1/8mile. Additionally, I had to play host to my brother and nephew, who paid me a visit during the holiday weekend. So, naturally I couldn't do very much uninterrupted work.

I finally finished my writing portion on Sunday, and submitted to team members for peer review. We gave the presentation yesterday. The outcome was less than desired to put it mildly. Our instructors grilled us on what I would call semantics. They were not happy with us establishing up front design constraints that were not set forth by the customer (RedBull). I found it particularly annoying that we were not permitted to use our engineering judgement or expound on our heuristics, and fill in the blanks on a very open ended assignment. Moreover, our group presenter did not take the instructor feedback very well. The exchange became heated and not very productive. The instructors could have defused the matter by simply making their points and allowing us to proceed with our discussion. Instead, they tried in vain to convince us that we were poor architects and missed key points of the assignment. I think the constructive criticism would have been better received by talking to us as a group afterwards. In fairness to the instructors, they grilled another team for similar weaknesses (ie. estimating the benefit of one vs four riders, energy transfer riders to dragster).

In a nutshell, systems architecture is an art and as such lends itself to subjective reasoning. Everyone has a different idea about what is artistic and what is not. I don't think one could become a great systems architect in ten weeks. You enroll in a grad course to learn more of the specifics relative to the fundamental concepts or first principles. Clearly it could take a lifetime master the art of architecting.

  • Making of a trebuchet
  • Generally productive
  • Tang Soo Do chronicles
  • Rent Party
  • No TrackBacks

    TrackBack URL:

    Monthly Archives


    OpenID accepted here Learn more about OpenID
    Powered by Movable Type 4.25

    About this Entry

    This page contains a single entry by AG published on July 13, 2005 5:55 AM.

    No comparison was the previous entry in this blog.

    Here we go again.. is the next entry in this blog.

    Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.