How to explain MBSE to your Mom

“What on earth do you do so I can explain it to my friends”

– Moms Everywhere

It seems to be a conversation I have all too often with my mom and it has been a hard one to master. At first, I blew off the question with a short response basically saying “I am an engineer and I solve problems.” For all of us that know moms or have one you talk to frequently, that type of answer will only last you so long. Her persistence continued leaving me to finally think long and hard about how to explain what I do in a manner that was concise and at a level a non-engineer would understand.

To start this brainstorming, I had to think what my mom assumed I did as a job and what better way to be enlightened about this than asking her. After a series of dumbfounded looks from my mom for prompting her with this question, she finally started to open up. From what I gathered, it seemed she thought my MBSE career was a combination between an architect, electrician, and mechanic. All of which are admirable and note worthy jobs, but still missed the mark. This research did help me with her context of what jobs she had a decent understanding of, which in turn helped formulate my answer.

From her response, the key aspect I made use of was the term “blueprint” and I really think that has a lot of applicability of the true intentions of model based system engineering. What is a logical architecture trying to provide? A blueprint (architecture) that guides and constrains developers of the system. Even in the physical architecture realm, the term blueprint applies in a more detailed sense. Ok, I think I am onto something here.

Lets now give this a shot:

Mom: “OK, do you NOW have a response for me? What on earth do you do with this M-B-S-E”

Beyond MBSE: “It is really quite simple mom, I develop blueprints or architectures in a model that allows a common source for designers to understand the objectives of the system to be built. Think of your understanding of an architect, and how they use a blueprint, think of a model in a similar fashion with different layers of abstraction”

My mom shook her head up and down in understanding but…I am really not quite sure she got it. Should I have used the word “abstraction”?! Did I harp too much on the architect? I guess I will find out at the next family party…..

Got a better explanation than us?! Let us know in the comments or reach out to us directly!

– Beyond MBSE

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