H. Boulouet initialized in 1998 a brand new Relativized System Engineering (RSE) Method to overcome the poor results of the traditional functional analysis approach, when confronted to the design of so-called “complex” systems, characterized by multiple competing stakes and massively shared resources (while involved in the French Rafale program as an Aerospatiale engineer). Confronted with the fuzzy and scientifically unfounded concepts of System Engineering and systemic, he looked for a domain which would have overcome such a conceptual mess at least on a pragmatic ground, as a starting basis. He turned to quantum physics.
V. Brindejonc confronted with the challenge of prototyping, in a short time and with limited means, a collaborative platform for aircraft equipment makers, turned to RSE (still unnamed at that time) (Ligeron Ltd, A. Azarian, H. Boulouet, V. Brindejonc, L. Bouquin. ICSSEA 2003). Beyond this experience and the eventual success, he was appealed by the connection between the underneath logic under construction, not formalized yet, and his own experience as a theoretical physicist and as a safety expert. He joined the project and has got strongly involved ever since, especially in the validation of RS algebra and the safety point of view included in RSE.
In 2005, Y. Rogard from PSA was willing to optimize mechatronic system design in the automotive industry. He decided to evaluate RSE on an operational ground and hired H. Boulouet. V. Brindejonc soon joined. This was the start of an informal team building process, by people moved by their personal convictions and highly committed in the project: E. Campo, F. Fleuchey and B. Massy.
F. Fleuchey, following his own feelings, had been developing since 2004 a relativized Product Lifecycle Management System, drawing his inspiration from neuroscience. He had focused on the design phase of mechatronic industrial projects, and beyond, on the setting up of a methodological and tooled framework to manage the collaborative building process of any intersubjective knowledge. We called this framework Knowledge Genesis Management (KGM) and, eventually, Relativized Infromation Management (RIM). He endowed RIM with strong constructive and relativized features. This positioning and the complementary aspects of RSE and RIM in view of coming up with a global solution to master the collaborative design of complex systems, made him join the MRC-RS project in 2006. He found in RS the scientific formal basis he was looking for to systematize the developments, now conducted within the team. He has strongly got involved in all the fundamental and applicative aspects of the MRC-RS building up ever since. RIM prototypes, called Sonia, have benefited from a strong support from motor designers in the automotive industry despite the gap between common usages and brand new RIM processes. If this breakthrough made the management all the more reluctant, the success has been such that up to now, hundreds (up to 400) of designers keep on using RIM Sonia prototype as an operational tool notwithstanding.
B. Massy was in 2005 a quality engineer struggling to optimize the specification and design technical documentation, including requirements management, their classification and their grouping in consistent and meaningful sets. He was fully aware that most requirements were actually not testable, that non consistency could be ensured. He did had perceived that designing test processes out of this stuff was quite approximate and required a huge work. He did had understood that the eventual product resulted more from the costly and repetitive adjustments with equipment makers at integration time than from the guidelines provided by the technical documentation. This deeply rooted awareness of the situation drove him to immediately volunteer to evaluate pragmatically the method in his basic and un-tooled release. He factually observed that the method was making technical documentation design much easier, that the documentation and the requirements volume were divided twofold. The resulting work could be effectively used as a valid reference with the equipment makers and for testing without interpretation. He joined MRC-RS project as soon as 2005 as the expert user and a talented trainer. Despite the managerial context, he keeps on setting up training sessions, evangelizing designers, and reengineering their work upon request. Deeply committed, he meets an increasing audience.
In 2006, Eric Campo was working as a system-design modelling engineer when H. Boulouet started analyzing and reengineering representative automotive mechatronic systems as a proof of concept. His work had made him fully aware of the fuzzy conceptual ground and of the factual impossibility of any functional based modelling approach to master in a traceable and testable way the design of “complex” products. He immediately joined MRC-RS project. His expertise and his straightforward understanding of RS formal core have turned him into the team leader for the prototyping of RS-based Integrated Development Environments out of the computerization of the RS core algebra. Such an achievement was a key step to effectively evaluate the human feasibility of such a method based modelling without making any concession relatively to the method. It came as a success beyond expectations. All RS thesis development long, E. Campo proved to be a very attentive and committed reviewer of the formal construction.
From 2007 to 2010, other engineers joined the project and got convinced of the method added-value. In particular, Nathalie Gollentz played a determinant part as a key user in the RSE IDE prototyping in 2009 and 2010. She made quite valuable suggestions and conducted deep analysis to put forth the weaknesses she could detect in the implementation of the designer’s way of thinking. As a result, RSE prototyped IDE got straightforwardly optimized within an agile development process. Her deep understanding of the conceptual gap between functional analysis and RSE drove her to document and illustrate in a striking and detailed way the differences between both methods. She could make plain why the former couldn’t work while the later ensured efficiency and decisions traceability without constraining the design work. G. Hou, is also to be quoted. He got involved as a computer engineer in RSE IDE prototyping from 2006 to 2010 and paid much attention to the methodological aspects. He contributed in a decisive way to the HMI IDE development, a key point for RSE IDE prototype acceptance.
The human and technological success led RSE project to be approved by the French pole of competiveness “Véhicule du Futur” in 2008 and to be granted a funding of one million euros to make public the added value yielded by the connection between RSE formal model and physical testing. But PSA management, confronted with this disruptive and unplanned initiative, shrinked back and decided to stop the project. After a two years period during which RSE demonstrated its capacity to automatically generate documentation out of formal model and to deal with human usages descriptions as well as technical design, the management imposed the functional approach as a unique reference for System Engineering.
As a consequence, RSE and RIM applicative developments were stopped in 2010.
Meanwhile, H. Boulouet had taken contact in 2007 with the theoretical Physicist whose work had inspired his own research: Pr. Mioara Mugur-Schächter, De Broglie’s last student. It was for her much of a surprise to see two engineers, H. Boulouet & V. Brindejonc, claiming that her work, rooted in the most fundamental physics, was an ideal framework to make a decisive breakthrough in industrial system engineering… But she got soon convinced and it was the start of a close collaboration to come up with a theoretical framework for systemic, compliant with her Method of Relativized Conceptualization (MRC) which generalizes the main lessons of her deep thinking on the cognitive situation entailed by quantum physics. Such a refoundation of systemic is a necessary step to endow system engineering with a scientific basis. RS thesis, by H. Boulouet, is a first step towards such an achievement. But this tremendous breakthrough initiated by MRC is confronted with a fundamental challenge: how to make scientists and decision makers aware of this radical new way of thinking and of the outstanding perspectives it opens both theoretically and pragmatically?