Student Q&A: Danny Call

Danny Call and his family, smiling in front of a sunset.Danny Call is a second year Ph.D. student in the systems engineering department. He earned his bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from Brigham Young University, and  his master’s in systems engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School. 

He is a civilian employee of the U.S. Air Force, where he works as a systems engineer in the 309th Software Engineering Group at Hill AFB in Utah.

Call recently gave a talk at the INCOSE International Workshop about implementing model-based systems engineering. 


What was the experience of presenting at INCOSE International Workshop like? 

I was excited at the opportunity to present at the INCOSE IW. Not only was it my first time presenting, but it was my first time attending an INCOSE event.

Preparing for the conference gave me the opportunity to solidify my ideas and research objectives. I especially appreciated the opportunity to interact with other professionals interested in MBSE, including many systems engineering authors whose material I have read for years.

What is your research area? What drew you to this research?

My research is focused on how model-based systems engineering (MBSE) can be tailored and presented in such a way that it will be more widely adopted. To accomplish this, I am researching the applicability of the diffusion of innovations theory to MBSE adoption trends and using the theory to inform an approach to improve the MBSE adoption rate.

I was drawn to this area after being introduced to MBSE while completing my master’s degree, but not seeing MBSE being used at all in the Air Force programs that I was acquainted with. When I was given the opportunity to pursue a Ph.D., I decided that I wanted to explore why MBSE wasn’t being widely used and how to increase its use.

What do you wish people knew about your research area?

Model-based systems engineering was developed to solve engineering problems. However, those problems are only mitigated if MBSE is adopted and used. There are some engineering problems contributing to the slow adoption rate of MBSE, but I believe it is primarily a human behavior problem.

I believe as systems engineers we have an opportunity to bridge the gap between the strictly technical challenges that organizations encounter, and the human behavior problems associated with those challenges.

What led you to study systems engineering?

After completing my undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering, I somehow found myself working in system integration role for various Air Force platforms. Through this experience I learned that there was much more involved in systems integration than the principles related to the various engineering disciplines (software, electrical, mechanical, etc.).

I did not know much about systems engineering when I enrolled in the SE program at the Naval Postgraduate school, but as I completed that program, I developed an appreciation and passion for systems engineering.

What do you like to do when you aren’t working/in class?

Spending time with my family is my favorite thing to do when I can break away from work and school. I have an amazing wife and five children. We like to take road trips together, play games, and hike (especially in Yellowstone). In the last few years, I have taken up running to maintain my mental health and completed my first marathon last summer.

What’s a fun fact about you people may not know?

I don’t go to the hospital often, but when I do it seems I end up having to drive myself there. I drove myself to the hospital to have my appendix removed and to have a framing nail removed from my finger after an incident with a nail gun while remodeling my parent’s home.

Anything else you want to share? 

I am grateful to be part of the Colorado State community generally and the systems engineering department specifically. I really enjoy my association with the faculty, staff, and fellow students.