Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering


College of Engineering


Dianne Deturris

Advisor Department

Aerospace Engineering

Advisor College

College of Engineering


In recent decades, complexity in aerospace programs has been increasing, leading to large budget and schedule overruns. Many of the risks of complex system development can be attributed to the inadequacy of linear methods when applied to nonlinear domains, i.e., oversimplification in a program amplifies the amount of risk produced when a system behaves unexpectedly. Effectively managing complexity involves responding to the various sources of complexity, whether it appears in the objective behavior of the system itself or in the subjective behavior of the people developing it. Thus, the engineering of complex systems requires nonlinear modeling methods of the system as well as nonlinear processes for developing the system. Much effort tends to be focused on addressing the objective sources of complexity and less is given to understanding and responding to the subjective sources of complexity. This present study examines how facilitating creativity in aerospace system development can serve as a potential strategy for managing complexity. Creativity is a kind of psychological process that integrates linear and nonlinear modes of thinking, and therefore systems engineering processes that reflect the creative process could reduce the risks of complexity. There are three primary results of this work: a novel application of creativity research to aerospace engineering processes; the most comprehensive published review of existing research on creativity in aerospace known to-date; and the proposal of two new systems engineering methods for facilitating creativity to manage complexity. These two new methods designed to improve the Waterfall methodology are as follows: the formation of a Parallel Systems Engineering group that functions analogously to how linear and nonlinear information are coordinated in creativity; and a conceptual model wherein aerospace programs are treated as a series of interdependent creative processes, which can be used to trace the propagation of complexity through various phases of system development.