Belcan Joins MBSE Lab Ecosystem

Corporate support gives students an opportunity to build their skills

Corporate executives from Belcan, LLC visited the University of Michigan (U-M) campus recently to participate in the plaque hanging ceremony acknowledging the company’s contributions to the Model Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) Lab at the Department of Aerospace Engineering.

MBSE is the formalized application of modeling to support system requirements, design, analysis, verification and validation activities beginning in the conceptual design phase and continuing throughout development and later life cycle phases. It has become an industry best practice over the last few years, and U-M students with MBSE experience are highly sought after.

Belcan, LLC is a global supplier of design, software, manufacturing, supply chain, information technology, and digital engineering solutions to the aerospace, defense, space, automotive, industrial, and government services markets.

“Belcan has a long legacy of supporting the education and development of the next generation of technical professionals,” said Lance Kwasniewski, Belcan’s Chief Executive Officer. “We are proud to be active partners in the MBSE Lab and look forward to continuing to innovate in the fields of systems engineering and advanced technologies.”

The MBSE Lab at Michigan Aerospace is a first-of-its-kind program that offers a flexible product development and teaming space where students collaborate in cross-campus projects to design, build, test and fly aircraft using MBSE and industry-proven systems engineering tools and processes. 

Lab student leaders Morgan Serra and Julia Weiss presented to Belcan executives, describing the lab, courses, and student projects. Morgan comments, “It’s inspiring to see businesses like Belcan who value our students’ academic experience. These are the companies we want to work for. The contributions of funding, expertise and participation in our corporate working group help us improve our projects and understand what industry is looking for.”

Belcan leaders also met with students in the program, including Sophia Papp, who is leading the Belcan-sponsored cybersecurity project using MBSE design and development principles.  The project entails students designing and building a cyber-hardened and cyber-resilient drone, then competing with Belcan engineers to determine who can hack into and defeat the drone. Papp noted the critical role corporate participation plays in the success of the program. “The presence of companies like Belcan gives students real-time feedback on how we can apply what we’re learning and do so in a way that will be industry relevant. This speeds up our learning curve as prospective employees and significantly enhances the output of our work in the lab.”

Belcan joins a variety of aerospace companies who recognize the importance of MBSE in redefining the industry. “By teaching these concepts and developing this lab, the University of Michigan is positioning themselves as leaders in growing the future of the field. MBSE is becoming a high priority, and U-M is providing exactly the framework we need for the next generation of leaders. We are thrilled to be involved in developing the lab,” comments Terry Williams, Belcan’s Chief Information Officer, who is an active participant in the MBSE Lab.

One Belcan team member who was already very familiar with the effort is Parker Trombley (‘21) who was recruited by Belcan based on his involvement in the MBSE Lab. Trombley created the Michigan Vertical Flight Team and led them to two first-place finishes through the MBSE course, highly leveraging the lab’s tools and processes. Trombley comments, “Going through the course was completely transformational for the team. We learned how to develop our systems requirements as we were forming the team and supporting the creation of a national competition. We ended up with great results, winning a national event. The lab gave us the advantage we needed, and this course made a difference in how I view a project and engineering overall.” George Halow, Michigan Aerospace Professor of Practice and head of the MBSE program concludes, “Belcan is showing our students they are committed to helping us develop the programs that give them an advantage. This is the difference maker for them: from the impact they have on campus to the impact they’ll have on day one when they graduate, we see the results that come from Belcan’s support and strategic advice.”