What does Leidos do? Part 7: Systems Engineering and Integration

September 21, 2017 Brandon Buckner

What does Leidos do? This series explores the science and technology behind our solutions. Today's interview features Juan Amenabar, whose mission is to grow and nurture the company's Systems Engineering and Integration capability.

Here's what we learned.

What is Systems Engineering and Integration, and why is it important to Leidos?

Systems Engineering and Integration is about seeing the entire picture, and the connections between the elements of that picture. The purpose of systems engineering is to architect, develop, operate, maintain and retire the right product or service within budget and schedule. This requires a common understanding of the system’s current state and a vision of future needs.  We pride ourselves on being a system integrator and solutions provider for technically challenging problems of national importance. 

Why is this so important to our customers?

The marketplace changed dramatically over the 20th century and beyond. It used to take an average of 44 years (cars, phones, electricity) for a product to penetrate the market by 25 percent. Today, the average is 17 years (cell phones, personal computers, the Internet) and that trend is continuing down. This is due to an increasing level of "system of systems" integration. It not only makes the need for systems engineering more important, it also changes the way in which systems engineering is done.

Now, when we look at new systems, we really look at existing commercially available solutions and technologies, and we integrate those capabilities in a much faster development cycle. As a result of that shorter time to market, and the large number of interfaces to be managed, complexity is much greater. You need to be able to balance all of your requirements, designs, and architecture in a short amount of time. It necessitates an incredible amount of rigor from systems engineers, as well as the implementation of new approaches such as Model Based Systems Engineering (MBSE).

Juan AmenabarJuan Amenabar, Systems Engineering and Integration Lead —
"We pride ourselves on being a system integrator and solutions provider for technically challenging problems of national importance."

What is the company's specific approach to systems engineering?

Our approach is holistic. We look at all the interconnected parts of a problem. Our brand of science is collaborative, with knowledge shared across disciplines. Our approach is also agile and lean. We tailor the correct approach suitable to customer needs. We ensure that the right amount of systems engineering required for mission success is correctly applied.

Why was Systems Engineering & Integration designated as a Leidos technical core competency?

Systems Engineering and Integration is a foundational capability for this company. It is basic to the DNA of every technical project we work on, particularly complex integration and development projects. Systems Engineering and Integration is something we must do well in order to satisfy the mission requirements of our customers. Systems thinking is at the core of what we do. The ability to understand interfaces, how to test them, and how to verify that the original requirements are met is what we’re all about.

What does Leidos aspire to in systems engineering?

As the company has grown, our intent has changed from doing small projects to doing very large, competitive projects. But we don't want to become just another gigantic, monolithic systems engineering company. Our lean and agile approach ensures that the right amount of systems engineering is present, and that we can quickly adjust to changing environments and customer needs. Some larger companies come in and say, "Here's our solution. Take it or leave it." We have the ability to adjust to the customer’s changing needs, and we want that to continue.

What are the company's top success stories in this domain?

One particular example is the DHMSM contract, which supports the Department of Defense's efforts to modernize military healthcare systems. It's our largest contract ever in value. The project has a huge demand for strong systems engineering. One of the reasons we won is because we presented a very strong systems engineering approach.

We have customers such as DARPA and IARPA, who we work with on cutting-edge, classified technology. Our advanced solutions in sensor integration and marine systems include programs such as ACTUV and TRAPS. These programs went through a very fast, accelerated implementation of systems engineering after years of research. These programs are evolving from research and development to actual programs of record for the U.S. Armed Forces. On the civil side, we support customers like NASA, the FAA and DHS, where we bring years of research and evolved solutions in play. Our corporation spans a full range from research to mature system deployment and operations. Our approach is tailored to support the customer needs to ensure mission success in their respective areas.

To read this series in its entirety, please click below:


Brandon Buckner

Brandon is a writer and content marketer based in the Washington, D.C. area. He loves to cover emerging technology and its power to improve society.

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