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July 2008 edition

Model-driven design methodologies: A powerful way to reduce development risks

By D. Teegarden and A. Nicoli, Mentor Graphics Corporation

Stories abound of cost overruns, schedule delays, low reliability, and even product failure related to the development of large-scale systems and platforms. Despite efforts to reduce development risk through disciplined and rigorous development programs, critical issues often do not become apparent until well into the development life cycle. A number of factors in today's mil-aero development ecosystem are making it even more challenging to achieve consistent quality and cost-effectiveness throughout the development life cycle, particularly at the time of systems integration.

As systems become more complex, contractors are being forced into the role of systems integrators while subcontracting out subsystems to a global network of subcontractors, adding a significant potential for misunderstandings, errors and omissions due to communication challenges across language and cultural boundaries. New technology options, such as embedded software, electronic control units, electro-mechanical subsystems (mechatronics), the frameworks in which they communicate (networks), and the wiring systems that connect them (harnesses), add complexity to the entire system integration task.

Many players have different specialties across technical, system and process levels. They need to be able to focus on their specific tasks using the best tools for these tasks, and then their pieces must be efficiently integrated into a system that works. Testing with traceability back to requirements is also....

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