Software Engineering Institute | Carnegie Mellon University
Software Engineering Institute | Carnegie Mellon University

Staff Profile

Sarah Sheard

Senior Engineer

Key Responsibilities

Dr. Sarah Sheard is a Senior Engineer in the SEI's Software Engineering and Acquisition Practices Directorate. She has authored several publications on systems and software engineering in the sustainment phase, and has helped the Air Force with their software engineering manual, since she joined the SEI in late 2012. Her current work includes both research in the fields of software engineering measurement and process and application of SEI technologies for government customers.

Expertise in: Cyber-physical systems; measurement and analysis; lifecycle technical support; sustainment; system security engineering; program protection; risk management; independent technical assessments; systems of systems; requirements; architecture; software development process; systems engineering process

Professional Background

 Dr. Sheard has over 20 years of experience in systems engineering, software and systems process improvement, and complexity science. Prior to arriving at the SEI, she was CEO and principal consultant of Third Millennium Systems for seven years, focusing on systems engineering process improvement and application of complexity sciences to systems engineering. Her clients included the DoD office of Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics; DISA; MITRE; and several defense contractors. This followed ten years leading the systems engineering effort at the Systems and Software Consortium; three years at IBM/Loral on air traffic control, and twelve years building satellites at Hughes Aircraft Company (now Boeing Satellite Systems).
Dr. Sheard is the author of the original Frameworks Quagmire, which shows the relationships of maturity models, systems and software process standards, quality awards, and similar frameworks requiring compliance of processes. She is a Fellow of the International Council on Systems Engineering and of the Lean Systems Society. She earned her doctorate in 2012 with research on which attributes of complexity contribute to system development project cost, schedule and performance outcomes.

Publications (recent or significant)

Dr. Sheard’s most cited papers in systems engineering and process improvement include:
· Sheard, Sarah A., and Ali Mostashari. "Principles of complex systems for systems engineering." Systems Engineering 12.4 (2009): 295-311.
· Sheard, Sarah A. "Evolution of the frameworks quagmire." Computer 34.7 (2001): 96-98.
· Sheard, Sarah A. "Twelve systems engineering roles." Proceedings of the Sixth International Symposium on Systems Engineering. Vol. 17. 1996.
· Sheard, Sarah A., and Jerome G. Lake. "Systems engineering standards and models compared." Proceedings of the Eighth International Symposium on Systems Engineering, Vancouver, Canada. 1998.
· Ferguson, JoAn, and Sarah Sheard. "Leveraging your CMM efforts for IEEE/EIA 12207." Software, IEEE 15.5 (1998): 23-28.What is senior management commitment, 2001.
· “Complex Adaptive Systems in Systems Engineering and Management,” chapter 30 of Sage, Andrew P., and William B. Rouse. Handbook of systems engineering and management. Wiley. com, 2011.


  • PhD, Systems Engineering, Stevens Institute of Technology
  • MS, Chemistry, California Institute of Technology
  • BA, Chemistry, University of Rochester


    CSEP, Certified Systems Engineering Practitioner, INCOSE

Professional Memberships

  • Lean Systems Society
  • IEEE

Contact Sarah Sheard