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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/I004289/1
Title: Travel Grant to Assess the Application of the USAF 8-Step Problem Solving Method for Configuration Management in Safety-Critical Software
Principal Investigator: Johnson, Professor C
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: School of Computing Science
Organisation: University of Glasgow
Scheme: Overseas Travel Grants (OTGS)
Starts: 14 May 2010 Ends: 13 May 2011 Value (£): 8,000
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Software Engineering
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Information Technologies
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
Configuration management ensures that requirements and constraints, identified in previous stages of software development, are preserved through subsequent modifications. Within this general description there are a range of more specific concerns - for example, one aspect of configuration management focuses on the maintenance of well defined interfaces between system components. More broadly, configuration management consists of processes that are intended to ensure the consistency of a product with both functional and non-functional requirements throughout the development and operational lifecycle. The short travel grant will build on three collaborations:1. The proposer has worked with Iya Whitely (SEA Ltd/European Space Agency) to identify configuration management problems in ESA's long duration missions. This involved the use of previous mishaps, including the failure of the International Space Station's Urine Reprocessing Unit, to anticipate future configuration management problems. 2. The proposer with Jackie Kaiser (Space Command) applied the USAF 8-Step Problem Solving Method to a general class of configuration management problems including the NOAA N-Prime Satellite handling failure. 3. The proposer has worked with Michael Holloway at NASA Langley for more than a decade. He held a NASA fellowship (2002) and a NASA Floyd Thompson grant brought Michael Holloway to Glasgow (2005). Our joint work has focussed on critical software systems engineering in aerospace applications but never before on Configuration Management.The innovative aim of this travel proposal is to support configuration management for complex safety-critical, software systems. This might seem to be a trivial trivial issue; however, the general problems can be illustrated by the SOHO observatory. Marconi/MATRA developed the satellite and had a mission simulator. NASA ran the ground control and used a second simulator. ESA coordinated development and maintained a third. None of the simulators ran the version of the software installed on the satellite. We will apply the USAF 8-Step Method to the specific software configuration management problems that affected the SOHO mission. The organisational and technical complexity of this project provides a significant challenge. The 8 Step Problem Solving Model is a standard process based on Boyd's OODA (Observe, Orient, Decide and Act) Loop: 1. Clarify and Validate the Problem 2. Break Down the Problem and Identify Performance Gaps; 3. Set Improvement Target 4. Determine Causes and Contributory Factors; 5. Develop Countermeasures; 6. See Countermeasures Through 7. Confirm Results and Process 8. Standardize Successful Processes; This 8-Step process supports complex systems engineering across the USAF. It has never been used to identify causes and recommendations for configuration management problems in complex software applications. A number of significant problems remain in refining these high-level activities into the detailed configuration management processes that might support complex software engineering tasks in space missions; this refinement will be the focus of the travel grant. The proposer will then use the travel grant to visit USAF Space Command and the NASA Langley team to validate our findings. The outcome from these visits will be presented in a joint paper at the 2011 Annual Conference of the International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety and at the International Systems Safety Conference. A final visit will be made to UK representatives within the European Space Agency programme to disseminate our work and develop proposals for future research
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Organisation Website: http://www.gla.ac.uk