This interview presents information from 2014 and updates from 2021.
Q1: Describe your current position/role.
2014: Dr. Raman is currently a Practice Head, championing Knowledge Based Development in his organization. He coaches product development teams across multiple businesses, ensuring robust optimal architecture/design of complex systems and systematic closure of prevalent knowledge gaps through rapid learning cycles in presence of uncertainty and variability. He also champions core platforms and core architectures and systematic/strategic reuse practices.
2021: I am currently Principal Systems Engineer at Honeywell. In this current role, I serve as a Technology leader driving strategic technology areas across multiple Centers of Excellence (COEs) in Aerospace. I lead an organizational level technology leadership council, comprising senior technologists towards influencing and driving technology strategically in the organization. I serve as Systems Engineering and Software Architecture technical leader, ensuring overall architecture design robustness for complex systems. Further, I also lead the adoption of Artificial Intelligence - Machine Learning in complex cyber-physical systems.
Q2: What are one or two of your proudest professional accomplishments?
2014: Dr. Raman is involved in developing systems in very diverse areas. He has had a lot of technically complex subjects to resolve, and he is proud of his involvement in overcoming the challenges. In recent times, Ramakrishnan has been instrumental in driving significant transformational initiatives in his organization. These initiatives had to be driven with significant responsibility in the change transformation, but very little authority. Ramakrishnan is also the first CSEP from India.
2021: I received the INCOSE Outstanding Service Award in 2016 for sustained outstanding and significant contributions towards the growth of systems engineering awareness, adoption, and practice in INCOSE and India. The Editorial Board of Systems Engineering journal had selected my paper "Decision learning framework for architecture design decisions for complex systems" (the paper is based on research done as part of my doctoral thesis work, and co-authored with my thesis supervisor) to be among the best from those published in 2019.
Q3: What is the biggest challenge you face as a Systems Engineer?
2014: Driving change, in the way engineers think about a problem and architect/design the system, has been one of the biggest challenges for Dr. Raman. Other challenges include meeting the ever-shortening project lead times, ever increasing complexity of system-of-systems, and dynamically adapting to ever-changing situations.
2021: Challenges are what makes a systems engineer learn, and a positive approach to each challenge invariably leads to the possible solutions
Q4: What advice do you have for individuals starting their career as a Systems Engineer?
Dr. Raman advice to individuals starting their careers as Systems Engineers is to keep an open mind, look at the big picture, and try to keep things simple. Systems Engineers need to strive to arrive at the simplest workable solution for complex problems, by finding the right questions to ask and right problems to solve.
2021: To reiterate, systems thinking and “big picture” perspective are the distinguishing value-added considerations that the systems engineer possesses—factors which individual discipline engineers might often lack. Systems engineers develop the power of abstraction as applied to multi-disciplinary knowledge, but aptitude of science, engineering and mathematics helps.
Q5: How do you continue to learn about SE? What professional development activities do you do?
2014: Dr. Raman is active in the local INCOSE chapter. He interacts with multiple people in industry and academia. Ramakrishnan teaches part-time on a Masters Engineering Program on Avionic Systems (one semester per year). As part of teaching, he has to keep up with the latest thought processes and trends in systems engineering so that he can bring that to the classroom.
2021: I continue to actively participate in professional societies, including INCOSE, IEEE and SAE. I am currently the Assistant Director – INCOSE Asia Oceania Sector, where I work along with Sector Director and Chapter Presidents to further INCOSE vision, mission and goals. I am actively engaged in prestigious international conferences, where I have delivered invited/ plenary talks, and chaired tracks. I have also been the Technical Program Chair for international conferences including 2016 & 2019 Asia Oceania Systems Engineering Conference, and 31st INCOSE International Symposium. I actively interact with students and faculty in various academic institutions, and am currently Guest Faculty at IIT Bombay Aerospace Department, where I teach engineering masters course on systems engineering.
Q6: What are the next career goals you want to achieve?
Dr. Raman would like to continue to progress in Systems Engineering by handling more complex systems and playing a larger role in driving change in the way systems are designed and built. He would like to capture his learnings to-date in a more formal manner such as a technical paper.
2021: I aim to contribute significantly towards addressing systems engineering challenges pertaining to engineering of new technologies in complex systems and system-of-systems, specifically on Artificial Intelligence/ Machine Learning.
Q7: What are some of your hobbies/interest outside of work?
Dr. Raman likes to read philosophy books and travel to historical places both within India and abroad.
In 2021, we reached out to Mr. Raman to answer more questions:
Q8: Are there any other final comments you would like to make?
Applying system thinking on every scenario is motivating, and Ramakrishnan would like to continue to progress in that area.
Q9. Why did you decide to get the SEP certification?
SEP certification provides the required international recognition for my systems engineering knowledge, education, and experience. I was the first CSEP from India early in 2005, and in 2018 I was the 8th ESEP certified in Asia Oceania Sector.
Q10. What has surprised you in the past five years related to systems engineering?
The pace at which systems are being subject to ever increasing footprint of product functionality, inter-connectivity, and differentiation has surfaced many challenges. Now, modern systems are envisioned to emulate and simulate beyond human intelligence to achieve their goals and perform better than their “traditional” predecessors. The need for such modern systems to have enhanced self-awareness, self-control and self-evolution requires enhancements in conventional systems approaches.
Q11: What job titles have you had other than “Systems Engineer?”
Knowledge Based Development Practice Leader, Practice Head - Reuse Engineering