66 ISE Magazine | www.iise.org/ISEmagazine
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As organizations move into Industry 4.0, the demand for quality and process improvement is high. In
addition to our traditional tracks (LSS Applications and Training, LSS Research and Education), we have
expanded our focus in each track to include learnings about how Lean and Six Sigma are impacting digital
transformations and Quality 4.0.
Sept. 23-25, 2019
Magnolia Hotel-Houston
Houston , Tex a s
Home to NASA headquarters – the facility responsible for putting
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Cancer Center, ranked as one of the top two hospitals in cancer
care every year since
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began its annual
Americas Best Hospitals” survey in 1990.
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#ELSS2019 www.iise.org/LeanSixSigma
with Barrett S. Caldwell
Barrett S. Caldwell is a professor of
industrial engineering and aeronautical
and astronautical engineering at Purdue
University in West Lafayette, Indiana. He
is a Jefferson Science Fellow and has
served with the U.S. Department of State
in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific
Affairs, Office of Japan Affairs. He holds
a Ph.D. and master’s from the University
of California-Davis in social psychology,
and bachelor’s degrees in aeronautical
and astronautical engineering and
humanities from the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology. Caldwell, an
IISE member, is director for the NASA-
funded Indiana Space Grant Consortium
and recently took part in “The Apollo
Dialogues Workshop” at the National Air
& Space Museum to help commemorate
the 50th anniversary of the July 20,
1969, Apollo 11 moon landing.
What’s
Your
Story?
When did you first become interested in space engineering?
I first became interested in space travel and aerospace/astronautics engineering
during the Apollo moon shots back in 1968. I was very excited to watch the
Apollo 8 Christmas Eve broadcast on television and decided at that moment that
astronautics and the space program were how I wanted to direct my career path. ... I
gured out during my sophomore year at MIT that I wanted to combine the space
systems engineering with an interest in human performance and psychology.
How did you become involved in the Apollo 11 anniversary?
Purdue has played a major role in the history of aviation and space. I specically
remember being at the dedication of Armstrong Hall on campus, with Neil
Armstrong talking about how wonderful his preparation at Purdue was and how
grateful he was to the university. It was probably that day I realized that there was no
better place for me and my career. ... Because of my passion to work on the project, I
became known as “flight director” for the effort here at Purdue and across Indiana.
How are ISEs vital to space exploration?
One of Neils most famous quotes is that “400,000 people went to the moon,” not
just himself and Buzz Aldrin. It’s not just that the Saturn V was the most powerful
vehicle ever built and functioning (even until now); it took thousands of contractor
companies, including hundreds of thousands of scientists, technicians, engineers and
mathematicians (yes, STEM workforce) working together to ensure parts and valves
and subsystems all worked well together. Critical organizational demonstrations
come from the Apollo 8 mission, which was replaced from an earth orbit test of the
lunar module docking systems to a translunar injection and lunar orbit mission in
less than six months. Without an understanding of which systems could be brought
online over which time periods, such a thing would not be possible.
And dont forget, Apollo 11 splashed down 30 months after the pad fire killed
the Apollo 1 crew (which included two other Purdue grads, Gus Grissom and
Roger Chaffee). Being able to conduct a comprehensive failure review program re-
evaluation and re-engineering effort and still make President Kennedys “before this
decade is out” commitment – twice – after that sort of catastrophic system failure is
very impressive and is based on a model that giving up is unacceptable even when
youve made a horrible mistake. Or in the words of Mission Control then or during
Apollo 13, “failure is not an option.
The success of astronauts and mission controllers and contracting engineers
working together to get the Apollo 13 crew back home shows that it is the people
and not just the equations that make industrial and systems engineers vital to space
exploration and a wide variety of other complex technological environments.
How do you use IISE to your advantage?
I really do approach most things as a systems engineer, including the humans in-
volved in the systems. I often find myself reading the ISE magazine columns for other
perspectives on managing organizations and systems, and reading “Dilbert” cartoons
for a sober reality check.
What do you see in the future of space exploration?
If we were to think about humans on a Mars mission by 2040, there is a lot of human-
systems integration, and purpose-focused data analytics and artificial intelligence as
partners, not just overlords or servants. These things dont get built, and dont work,
without a systems engineering focus.
— Interview by Keith Albertson