Press Release

NASA Langley Talk Focuses on Emerging Field of Complex System Design

By SpaceRef Editor
January 8, 2016
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It lies somewhere between the traditional and non-traditional way of thinking, hoping to bring innovation and new methods to aerospace engineering.

On Tuesday, Jan. 12, at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, Anna-Maria Rivas McGowan, NASA’s senior engineer for complex systems design will present “Design and Engineering of Complex Systems” at 2 p.m. in the Pearl Young Theater.

McGowan will be available to answer questions from the media during a news briefing at 1:15 p.m. that day. Media who wish to do so should contact Chris Rink at 757-864-6786, or by e-mail at, by noon on the day of the talk for credentials and entry to the center.

That same evening at 7:30, McGowan will present a similar program for the general public at the Virginia Air & Space Center in downtown Hampton. This Sigma Series event is free and no reservations are required.

Like the economy, the human body or global climate, a complex system is a group or organization made up of many interacting parts. In these systems the individual parts and their interactions can have large-scale results that are not easily predicted from studying only individual parts.

In engineering, the study of complex systems shows how the interaction between research disciplines can create a new way of looking at the whole and how that system interacts with other systems or its environment.

As their design and development has become more important in the last decade, McGowan’s presentation will survey the state of complex systems. She will recognize how disciplines outside of traditional engineering have made the complex system designs and solutions more challenging. The disciplines include information science, statistical science, organizational science, decision science, design science, system science, economics, security, policy, and many others.

With over 23-years experience in aerospace research and management, McGowan leads NASA’s initiatives to develop methods for designing and engineering complex systems. She serves as an agency technical advisor and collaborates with researchers outside of NASA to advance interdisciplinary research, design, and development of methods that address increasing complexities in aerospace systems.

She has a Bachelor of Science in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from Purdue University, a Master of Science in aerospace engineering from Old Dominion University and has a doctorate in design science in engineering from the University of Michigan. McGowan has numerous NASA individual and group achievement awards.

For more information about NASA Langley’s Colloquium and Sigma Series Lectures, visit:

SpaceRef staff editor.