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Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE)

Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) is a formal methodology for supporting the requirements, design, analysis, verification, and validation for developing complex systems.

As organizations develop software capabilities of ever-increasing scale and complexity, the problems they encounter for fielding such capabilities are also increasing. Areas of concern for complex system include ensuring security, maintaining design requirements through an often complicated development process, managing communication through large-scale projects, and many more. These issues can often result in delays, increased costs, and even mistakes that can have disastrous consequences.

To address these challenges, many organizations are increasingly using MBSE to maintain systems engineering and ensure enough programmatic rigor to meet the needs of these complex projects. MBSE is a key enabler to meet stringent requirements with engineering thoroughness and efficient testing and evaluation. MBSE uses digital models and model processing to facilitate common frameworks for system design and assurance. A model-based approach strives to eliminate redundant, outdated, and often contradictory information that can accumulate through a document-centric approach. Using MBSE models, different stakeholders produce views specific to their needs from a single, trusted information source.

Organizations that efficiently use MBSE, therefore, will improve communication, productivity, and ultimately the quality of systems. However, optimally leveraging MBSE requires a coordinated effort across an organization, sometimes making it difficult to adopt and apply.

Applying the Synergy of MBSE

As a federally funded research and development center (FFRDC), the Software Engineering institute (SEI) combines a unique set of expertise to enable organizations to use the synergistic power of MBSE, particularly for system design assurance for software-intensive systems, including performance and timing guarantees, correctness, safety, and cybersecurity concerns.

The SEI contributes to MBSE deployment by steadily advancing the theory and practice of modeling and model-supported assurance. We engage with standardization groups and research institutions to improve theory and practice by leading the development of the SAE Architecture Analysis & Design Language (AADL)—a domain-specific language for the engineering of real-time, safety-critical, cyber-physical systems. We also contribute to OMG standardization efforts, and we participate in the development of standards such as SysMLv2 and UAF.

We bring this expertise into application to help solve real-world problems for organizations and leading them toward adoption of MBSE, including for modeling socio-technical systems such as the DevSecOps Platform Independent Model. We can help your organization by providing training, coaching, and workshops to help you select and adopt MBSE best practices. We’ve helped organizations build initial MBSE models to kickstart their adoption of best practices, and we’ve conducted pilot projects to evaluate the efficiency of these new approaches.

We can also collaborate with MBSE champions at your organization by helping establish modeling guidelines for complex systems, develop domain-specific reference or meta-models to facilitate transition to MBSE practices; ensure models are amenable to analysis of key security and performance attributes, and much more.

Finally, we advise and assist system program offices (SPO) by providing models as part of request for information or request for proposals. We can help identify appropriate content of models at different points in the acquisition lifecycle and appropriate analysis methods to use, and we can support SPOs by specifying requirements for modeling activities performed by contractors; delineating contract deliverables associated with models and modeling, reviewing models, and approving design and implementation decisions that the models capture.

What We Offer

The Latest from the SEI Blog

Headshot of John McGregor

Modeling Languages for Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE)

November 21, 2022 • Blog Post
John McGregor, Sholom G. Cohen

This post summarizes the benefits, practices, and tools for using a modeling language and compares the capabilities of SysML and AADL for use in model-based systems engineering...

Nataliya Shevchenko

An Introduction to Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE)

December 21, 2020 • Blog Post
Nataliya Shevchenko

This blog post introduces model-based systems engineering, a methodology to support the requirements, design, analysis, verification, and validation associated with the development of complex...


Our Vision for the Future

At the SEI, we continue to advance MBSE by continuously characterizing the state of the practice. We are engaged in driving policy change to leverage industry best practices, and we’re also identifying and promoting the sharing of best practices, especially across communities in the Department of Defense.

We're driving innovative change in acquisition and systems assurance practices, and we’re reviewing efforts across agencies, services, and commands to keep learning and improving the practice.