Welcome Sara Sumner, Applications Engineer

One of the best parts of growth at the Vitech team is getting to introduce great engineers to our customers! We were so happy to hear that Sara is joining the team and can’t wait for you to meet her. Sara will be working as an Applications Engineer for Vitech, providing engineering support for clients and prospects as they explore the best ways to make the value of model-based systems engineering work for them. A little about Sara…

Sara is a systems engineer with 12 years of experience in various SE domains and industries such as Army, DoD, Aerospace, and Energy. Her career has mostly focused on the implementation of systems engineering processes into systems engineering tools to include CORE™, Cradle® and DOORS®, and delivering systems engineering/tool training.


What attracted you to systems engineering? 

Systems thinking – I have always been a natural systems thinker, trying to understand the underlying cause of an issue and seeing how a deficiency or problem in one area can impact in a larger way. Systems thinking is about seeing relationships and understanding the impact one piece has on the larger system. I find this type of thinking to be fascinating and necessary when trying to solve any issue (large or small) in life.


In your opinion, what is the greatest value systems engineering can offer to the world today? 

The discovery of the real problem. The process of systems engineering, when done correctly, forces you to discover what the real problem is that needs to be solved. I think that often, we are unable to solve some of the largest and most complex issues because we aren’t sure what the problem actually is.


What are the great challenges that the systems engineering profession is facing? 

Education – every day I speak with a potential client that has a misperception of the definition of systems engineering and what role systems engineers play on a project. People often confuse systems engineering with project management, requirement engineering, or systems administration. I believe that part of the problem is that engineers aren’t educated on systems engineering. If every engineering institution required their engineers to take at least one systems engineering course, it would increase awareness of the need for systems engineers on every project and enable the engineers to keep a systems perspective throughout their academic and professional journeys.


How have you seen systems engineering change over your career so far?

My introduction into systems engineering was requirement engineering. Even though requirements are a key element of systems engineering, requirement engineering is still a small piece of the overall process. I have seen systems engineering migrate from requirement engineering to the adoption of model-based systems engineering (MBSE), which is a more thorough, robust systems engineering methodology. Adoption of MBSE has grown, but it still has a long way to go.


What’s the most exciting or unusual project you’ve ever worked on as an engineer? 

I think the most exciting project I have worked was the Army Future Combat Systems program, which was the first project that introduced me to systems engineering. It was one of the largest programs the Army implemented, and it was a Systems of Systems project, which brings more complexity than most SE projects. Being new to the industry, I didn’t realize what an undertaking a project of this magnitude was, both for the Army and for Systems Engineering. It was also my first introduction to the use and implementation of systems engineering tools, which has ultimately become the focus of my career.


Do you have any hobbies that take advantage of your engineering expertise? 

I love to entertain and any great party planner, whether they know it or not, is going to use systems engineering to architect the perfect gathering. You have to consider your theme of the party (why am I throwing this party), you have to identify the appropriate stakeholders, you need to identify your system boundary and external interfaces (Do I hire a caterer?), you have to identify any constraints (food allergies, contentious conversation topics) and identify your risks (inviting a republican congressman and member of PETA to the same party). And yes… I have been known to create models to support my party planning efforts!


What excites you most about working for Vitech? 

Being able to be an evangelist for MBSE and working with leading experts in the industry. I am truly inspired by the vision and the expertise within this company, and I am ecstatic to be able to be a small part of it.

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