A New Integration-Difficulty Metric for Assessing the Integration of Independent Systems Open Access
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This thesis solves a systems-engineering problem of quantifying what amount of integration is reasonable, prior to initiating a project to develop an integrated system. Systems-integration is a later engineering activity, most difficult to perform, often a large consumer of resources, and can be responsible for project failure. Recognizing the problem of `how much integration to pursue', proactively supports early engineering management decisions to avoid downstream problems associated with excessive integration. These decisions impact not only system development, but future manufacturing, cost and operational risk. A solution to the problem captures the essence of integration difficulty in a single new metric. This metric addresses primary factors attributable to integration with the goal of successfully achieving downstream systems integration convergence defined as integrability. This thesis will: 1) evaluate general methods used in measuring the impact of integration on various projects, 2) establish a new integration metric and technique capturing the salient factors that make systems-integration difficult, 3) apply the integration metric to real-world examples to demonstrate the utility of the metric, and 4) provide conclusions and recommendations for future research.