Where do we go from here?



by Frances Akridge
City Council Representative
District 2

How is creating a vibrant city like rocket science, and more specifically, the discipline of systems engineering in rocket science?  In my opinion:  A) We have to know where we want to go, or define our objective  B) know our resources such as the budget and the depth of talent that people bring to the city and C) know the constraints or limitations of specialized systems, such as the structure of our government.

The smartest, most engaging rocket scientist I know is Destin Sandlin, host of the wildly successful YouTube Channel “Smarter Every Day”. He is an expert communicator, showing how simple things are fascinatingly complex, or, conversely, showing how complicated things can be explained simply. Destin met with the Chamber of Commerce members for an annual meeting and he had a challenge for us: Think of building a great city like navigation of a missile. To hit the targets, engineers need to send the missile ahead of the target, using proportional navigation methods, or prop-nav in the parlance. 

What’s ahead for us? What’s our target? My goal is harmony for Huntsville and a system in a sustainable cycle of constant renewal, committing to an iterative process of constant improvement. That’s standard process in business and can be translated to delivering exceptional services. 

What are our resources? Budget and People. The budget is reviewed every year, starting now, based on priorities that your Council Representatives relate to the Administration. Our banners announce “We are Building an Inclusive Community” because our strength is in the collective talent of all people. 

What are our constraints of specialized systems? Fortunately for us, the system we enjoy because of visionary and brave people who committed treason against the English Crown is a democratic republic. In that system, the great thing is that anyone with a passion to be a servant leader can be part of the iterative process of improvement. 

In all, I am excited to see that we are building a great city the way that a systems engineer would do it: 

“The systems engineering method recognizes each system is an integrated whole even though composed of diverse, specialized structures and sub-functions. It further recognizes that any system has a number of objectives and that the balance between them may differ widely from system to system. The methods seek to optimize the overall system functions according to the weighted objectives and to achieve maximum compatibility of its parts.”— Systems Engineering Tools by Harold Chestnut, 1965. Chestnut, Harold (1965). Systems Engineering Tools. Wiley. ISBN 978-0-471-15448-8.

Join me…let me know what component part is your passion.​

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