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Cody Fleming
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Systems and Information Engineering

University of Virginia
Dept. of Systems and Information Engineering
Olsson Hall Room 102B
151 Engineer’s Way
Charlottesville, VA 22904
Phone (434) 924-7460

Dr. Cody Fleming joined the Systems and Information Engineering faculty in August 2015. Cody received his doctoral degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he focused on formally and rigorously integrating safety analysis into early concept development of complex systems. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Hope College with honors (summa cum laude) and a masters degree in Civil Engineering from MIT. Prior to returning to MIT, he spent 5 years working in space system development for various satellite and laser projects, specializing in dynamics, design, and systems integration. Cody was the recipient of Douwe B. Entema Prize, awarded to the top student in engineering, and the Alvin W. Vanderbush Award, given to the top scholar-athlete at Hope College. He recently received the Best Paper Award at the 25th Anniversary INCOSE International Symposium.


  • Northrop Truman Recognition Award (special recognition for problem-solving in a strategic program)
  • Dickson Fellow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Douwe B Entema Prize, Hope College (award to top student in physics and engineering)
  • Alvin W. Vanderbush Award, Hope College (one of four awards given to Hope College scholar-athletes)
  • Phi Beta Kappa (elected to national scholastic honor society)
  • Barry M. Goldwater Fellowship (nominated for national scholarship for undergraduate research)
  • Presidential Scholar, Hope College

Research Interests

The Fleming Lab research interests lie in the development of safe systems that contain autonomous or semi-autonomous technology and their interaction with human operators. The research focuses on early phases of system development, when alternative solutions are most technically feasible and cost effective to implement. Related to this area is the extension and development of systems theory, and the application of systems-theoretic approaches to other aspects (i.e. beyond safety) of system performance.

1. Concept Development and Architecting of Complex Systems

Our interest in this area seeks to develop and investigate techniques that:

  • capture dysfunctional behaviors that emerge when components — including human operators — and sub-systems interact. Recent work has helped identify functional interactions between modular software components;
  • identify candidate architectures that satisfy system goals and constraints, using principles of systems and control theory. Current work — funded by NASA — involves developing operational improvements that will be vital to tomorrow’s air traffic management system;
  • compare and contrast different candidate architectures, presenting stakeholders and decision makers with important trade-offs early in the design cycle.

2. Development of Safe Autonomous and Cyber-Physical Systems

Implementation of autonomous systems depends on their ability to be used safely by humans in a wide variety of operating conditions. Our interest in aiding the development of autonomous systems will:

  • use rigorous, top-down systems engineering to identify requirements for automation, including how humans interact with these systems. Recent results demonstrate the capability of these new techniques with respect to analysis and identification of requirements;
  • involve safety-driven development of autonomous systems and decision support tools, where safety-related properties and hazard analysis are explicitly made part of the trade space and design decision process;
  • explicitly consider human interaction with autonomous and cyber-physical systems. Doctoral work considers the interaction between control systems on-board aircraft, on the ground, and human operators in both domains;
  • extend systems-theoretic modeling of early concepts to executable models and simulations. This thread of research seeks to use results of early-phase analyses to guide the design process from concept development to increasingly mature designs that can be systematically simulated and tested.

3. Advancement and Application of Systems Theory in Systems Engineering

This thread of research area explores and advances the theory of systems and its use in systems engineering. Our research:

  • recognizes that systems engineering processes must be built upon underlying theory that has the capability to capture complex behavior and phenomena;develops and applies concepts of hierarchy, emergence, communication and control as a way of modeling system-level properties. Past work has applied these concepts to ensure safety;
  • extends safety-driven development to other system propertiese.g. “ilities” — system-level properties such as sustainability, flexibility, reusability, adaptability, robustness, and others.. That is, in the future this research will apply system-theoretic concepts to ensure other system properties that cannot be reduced to component or sub-system level analyses;
  • advances model-based systems engineering (MBSE). Past theoretical work — including my dissertation work — will be developed into MBSE tools and applied to general systems problems in medical, automotive, aerospace domains.

Research and Publications

Journal Articles

Fleming, C.H. and Levinson, N. Improving Hazard Analysis and Certification of Integrated Modular Avionics, AIAA Journal of Aerospace Information Systems, Vol. 11, No. 6 (2014), pp. 397–411.
Ishimatsu, T.; Leveson, N.G.; Thomas, J.P.; Fleming, C.H. Analysis of Complex Spacecraft Using Systems Theoretic Process Analysis, AIAA Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets, Vol. 51, No. 2 (2014), pp. 509-522.
Fleming, C.H.; Spencer, M.; Leveson, N.; and Wilkinson, C. Safety assurance in NextGen and complex transportation systems, Safety Science, Volume 55, June 2013, Pages 173–187.

Referred Conference Papers

Fleming, C.H.; Leveson, N. Including Safety during Early Development Phases of Future Air Traffic Management Concepts, ATM2015 Seminar, Lisbon, Portugal, June 2015, accepted for publication.
Fleming, C.H.; Leveson, N. Integrating Systems Safety into Systems Engineering during Concept Development, INCOSE International Symposium 2015, Seattle,WA, July 2015, accepted for publication.
Fleming, C.H.; Leveson, N.G.; Placke, M.S. Assuring Safety of NextGen Procedures, Tenth USA/Europe Air Traffic Management Research and Development Seminar (ATM2013), Chicago, IL, June 2013.
Leveson, N.G.; Fleming, C.H.; Spencer, M.; Thomas, J.; Wilkinson, C. Safety Assurance of Complex, Software-Intensive Systems, SAE 2012 Aerospace Electronics and Avionics Systems Conference, October 2012.

Conference Papers

Leveson, N; Fleming, C.H.; Thomas, J.; Wilkinson, C. A Comparison of SAE ARP 4761 and STPA Safety Assessment Processes, 23rd Safety-critical Systems Symposium (SSS’15), Bristol, UK, February 2015.
Fleming, C.H.; Model-based Concept Development and Safety Driven Design, INFORMATIK2014, Stuttgart, Germany, October 2014.
Fleming, C.H.; Ishimatsu, T.; Miyamoto, Y.; Nakao, H.; Katahira, M.; Hoshino, N.; Thomas, J; Leveson, N. Safety-Guided Spacecraft Design, 11th International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety, October 2011.
Ishimatsu, T.; Leveson, N.; Fleming, C.H.; Katahira, M.; Miyamoto, Y.; Nakao, H.Multiple Controller Problem, 11th International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety, October 2011.

Technical Reports

Fleming, C.H.; Placke, M.S.; and Leveson, N. STPA Analysis of NextGen Interval Management Components, FAA Technical Report, September 2013.
Fleming, C.H.; Spencer, M.; Thomas, J.; Leveson, N.; and Wilkinson, C. Mission Assurance in NextGen Technologies, NASA Technical Report, March 2012.


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