Simulating Safety-Critical Development
Current software projects are increasingly safety-critical in nature. Building such systems requires a multi-faceted approach that includes rigorous analysis, design, coding, and quality assurance activities. Introducing such experiences into a classroom for a real high-dependency system can be quite challenging, and as a result, classes that teach high-dependability techniques tend to be either theoretical in nature, anchored around case-studies of safety-critical systems, or involve isolated activities such as constructing and checking properties of models.
This studio course is designed to expose students to the kind of thinking and processes that are involved in building safety-critical systems. We simulate high-dependability environments by engaging in projects which we define as quasi safety-critical in nature.
A quasi safety-critical project is one in which we imagine a safety-critical scenario, and we build with that scenario in mind. For example, a project that manages fleets of drones delivering medical supplies in a disaster zone is clearly safety-critical in nature. For purposes of a school project we do not have accessibility to top-end drones which can fly many miles across rugged terrain and neither do we have the time and person resources to build such a system to meet rigorous safety-standards. However, we can simulate this environment by using lower-cost drones and ultimately running physical tests in a smaller, more controlled environment. Replacing high-end equipment with less costly more accessible equipment, provides students with a hands-on project which retains much of the essence of the safety-critical scenario in the project.
Project teams of five to six members are responsible for envisioning the product they will deliver, specifying goals, use cases, and requirements; designing, implementing, and testing the solution; identifying safety hazards and security vulnerabilities, and finally demonstrating that the system is safe for use. Teams follow sound safety-oriented practices throughout the project.
This website represents a work-in-progress and will be updated throughout the Studio course from January to June 2016.