Systems engineering is an interdisciplinary approach that develops technical information to support the management decision-making process. It considers both the business and the technical needs of all customers, with the goal of providing a quality product that meets the users’ needs.
Systems engineering integrates other disciplines and specialty groups into a team effort, forming a structured process that goes fromdevelopment, manufacturing, verification, deployment, operations, support, disposal of, and user training.
Systems engineers often focus on serious problems to develop workable solutions. For example, the systems engineer whose interview appears in this website works with a team of others and asks: If an aircraft wing is damaged by hail or a bird while in flight, could a new type of wing material be created and built that when damaged can heal itself while in the air? By drawing from the space, auto, materials, and aircraft technology fields, he and other systems engineers are attempting to integrate these seemingly different elements into something that’s never been created or built before.
The need for Systems engineering arose with the increase in complexity of systems and projects. A system can become more complex not only due to increase in size, but also with increase in the amount of data, variables, or the number of fields that are simultaneously involved in the design. Systems engineering encourages use of tools and methods to better comprehend and manage complexity in systems.
Taking an interdisciplinary approach to engineering systems is inherently complex, since the behavior of and interaction among system components are not always well defined or understood (at least at the outset). Defining and characterizing such systems and subsystems, and the interactions among them, is one of the goals of Systems engineering.
Education in Systems engineering is often seen as an extension to the regular engineering courses, reflecting the industry attitude that engineering students need a foundational background in one of the traditional engineering disciplines, for example, electrical or mechanical engineering, plus practical, real-world experience in order to be effective as systems engineers.