MBSE for the Nontraditional Engineer in the IoT Era

Written By: Julie Pike
  • 1/30/2018

In the latest episode of “The Connected Engineer”, we begin a three-part series on the role MBSE will play in the IoT era. In the first part of the series, Chris Rommel, Executive Vice President of IoT and Embedded Technology at VDC shares how MBSE can be extended to the nontraditional engineer. 

According to a recent survey by VDC, more than 50% of respondents stated that their management views the Internet of Things (IoT) as critical to their organization’s future success. Although the IoT brings many opportunities, it can also present challenges such as increasingly complicated systems requiring more and more software. However, adopting a model-based systems engineering (MBSE) approach can help mitigate many of the challenges facing today’s engineering organizations. 

What Exactly is MBSE?

To get the conversation started, Rommel gave a quick introduction to listeners who haven’t given much attention to MBSE – or systems engineering, for that matter: “[System engineering] is really intended to be an interdisciplinary methodology to ensure project success when you have complex electromechanical systems. That’s everything from specification to design, through verification, testing, and deployment of complex products.”

While engineers have been building these types of systems for quite a while, increased connectivity is making the process much more complicated. “To help reduce some of the risk to engineering organizations – or just better enable faster innovation – we’re seeing a lot of manufacturing leaders looking towards adopting a model-based systems engineering approach,” says Rommel.


MBSE provides a mechanism to more efficiently capture and communicate product designs through models. These models help enable engineering teams to have a common language that unifies the various engineering disciplines and aligns high-level system designs and detail designs. In addition, having models at the graphical design level means it’s possible to prototype systems faster, at a lower cost, to improve cross-disciplinary collaboration and improve reuse.

Who are Nontraditional Engineers and How Can They Leverage MBSE?

According to Rommel, there are two groups of non-traditional engineers: The first is the group of people throughout the enterprise who are now more connected than ever because of IoT connectivity: IT, R&D, operations, sales, etc. In addition, within the engineering community itself, there is a blurring of traditional engineering roles: hardware engineers doing more software development work, system architects needing to know more algorithm functionality, etc. Essentially, more engineers are beginning to wear multiple hats. 

“There was a time when you could almost view MBSE as this ivory tower,” explains Rommel. “But to really get the best efficiency or synergies out of [MBSE], it needs to be rolled out to the masses. It’s a fundamental component of the toolbox for fighting some of that complexity that comes with system design. If you think about the roles in anyone’s engineering organization, there’s a wide set of different skills out there. And clearly, the broadest potential for MBSE is as a platform that can work with as many people as possible.” 

Listen to the full episode of “The Connected Engineer” and discover how MBSE can be more broadly used in the organization. 



  • Windchill
  • Electronics and High-Tech
  • PLM

About the Author

Julie Pike

Julie Pike is the PLM Content Marketing Specialist at PTC. She has spent her career in marketing and communications primarily in the technology industry. Follow her on Twitter at @julie_pike.