Susan Ruth, The Aerospace Corp.
INCOSE - Los Angeles Chapter
(310) 336-6765


Tuesday February 11, 2014 from 5:30 PM to 8:00 PM PST

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The Aerospace Corp., Bldg D8
200 North Aviation Blvd.
El Segundo, CA 90245 

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INCOSE-LA Speaker Meeting 11 February 2014

"Too Risky" - System Engineering Teams and the Social Construction of Risk

TOPIC: "Too Risky" - System Engineering Teams and the Social Construction of Risk

WHEN:  Tuesday, February 11, 2014, 5:30 pm to 7:45 pm PDT

Meeting Schedule:
5:30 - 6:15 pm   Sign-In, Networking, Refreshments
6:15 - 6:30 pm   Welcome & Announcements
6:30 - 7:45 pm   Presentation and Questions

RSVP Deadline: Friday, February 7, 2014
Foreign Nationals must register by February 5, 2014. 

COST:  FREE to INCOSE members with prior RSVP by Friday, February 7, 2014;  $10 for non-members.  No charge at sites not offering refreshments, or to individual virtual participants.  (Non-members should select 'pay at the door' option when registering at a site where refreshments are not offered.)

WHERE:  Webcast sites available - see for details. 

Host site:  The Aerospace Corp., Bldg D8, Room 1010.  200 North Aviation Blvd., El Segundo, CA 90245;  (310) 336-6765,   Refreshments will be provided at this site.

Remote Sites (potential): Capstone Turbine Corp in Chatsworth; Control Point Corp in Goleta; The Boeing Company in Huntington Beach; NGC (employees) in Azusa; Antelope Valley College in Lancaster.

Virtual (Global Meet): See the web page for this event on the INCOSE-LA website
( ) for information on joining as an individual virtual participant with prior RSVP.


At the root of even the most quantitative assessments of risk lies human judgment.  Perceiving, understanding and managing risk are inherently social processes that benefit from discussion, debate and evaluation from multiple perspectives.  While tools and techniques can help translate data and perceptions into quantitative measures of the amount of risk, determining whether that amount of risk is acceptable, i.e., is it  "too risky," is a judgment call.   Engineering teams make hundreds of these types of judgment calls throughout the course of a project. The impact of these assessments, particularly those made during the early phases of project formulation, can have a huge effect on the performance of the project – and the ultimate success of the product being developed.

This presentation shares results from field research on real teams working on real, risky projects. It identifies the different components that feed into an assessment of risk, how these interact to lead to a judgment on degree and acceptability of risk, how team processes influence perceptions and assessment of risk, and ways teams mislead themselves.  It also suggests ways in which System Engineering as a discipline can capitalize on team social processes to improve a project's understanding of risk.

Dr. Lynne Cooper has been an engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for 26 years, after serving as a Captain in the US Air Force and working in the Aerospace Industry.  She currently leads the JPL Proposal Center, most recently serving as the Proposal Manager for the Mars Helicopter Scout proposal. She received her doctorate in Industrial and Systems Engineering from the University of Southern California, where she is a member of the industry faculty. As a practitioner-researcher, she implements and studies systems to support knowledge sharing, innovation, and risk characterization, and has worked on multiple Mars missions.  Her research has been published in Management Science, the Journal of Engineering and Technology Management, and the International Journal of Knowledge Management (IJKM).  She reviews for multiple journals, serves as a track co-chair for HICSS and IEEE Technology Management Conference, and is a member of the editorial board for IJKM.