What is Systems Engineering?

Systems Engineering is the systematic application of Systems Thinking to the design and introduction of new products and services (otherwise known as systems). Entirely born out of the need to manage complexity, Systems Engineering is the only proven approach to address these challenges.

Good Systems Engineering involves gathering and understanding the β€œcustomer’s” problem to explore solution choices and design-in performance, quality, safety, reliability while minimizing environmental impact and cost.

Correctly applied Systems Engineering provides a considerable strategic advantage to an organisation by reducing introduction times, improving product or service performance and reducing through-life costs. It is the only proven approach to handling risks associated with creating complex products and services.

So in layman’s terms, Systems Engineering is an efficient method of creating and implementing new systems. When we’re talking about ‘systems’, these can be physical, conceptual, or a mix of both. A system is an arrangement of different parts or elements that interact with one another to create a result that wouldn’t come from the individual components alone.

Applying Systems Engineering

Applying Systems Engineering correctly, requires skills and knowledge and a profound understanding of the underlying System Thinking principles on which it is built. Education and training are therefore critical to the development of an organisational capability in Systems Engineering.

Where did it all start?

Though its origins can be traced back to the 1930s and 1940s, its more widespread application can be dated from the early 1950s. The earliest formal teaching of systems engineering was a course presented in 1950 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology by G.W. Gilman, who was then Director of Systems Engineering at Bell Laboratories.

One of the Bell Labs executives, Arthur Hall, was closely associated with the introduction of systems engineering into the organization, and considered that it was necessary because:

  • Products were increasing in complexity.
  • The needs of consumers were expanding.
  • The business environment was expanding rapidly in terms of markets and technology.
  • There was an acute shortage of technically and scientifically trained people.

It is interesting, though perhaps not surprising, to note that some seventy years later, that the need for Systems Engineering has only increased as has the need to train people in its practical application.

How can Systems Engineering help my business?

Systems Engineering can help your company design and deliver better products, processes and services. It does this by handling the inherent complexity of modern systems allowing a holistic approach to be taken.

The result of this is a better system in the hands of the customer in terms of performance, features, reliability, robustness and price. The holistic view also makes sure that the through-life aspects such as manufacture or delivery, support and disposal are designed and built-in leading to lower through-life cost.

Systems Engineering is a structured and systematic methodology providing greater visibility and control over the new system (product or process) introduction process. This will result in reduced design and development time, reduced cost and reduced warranty claims.

Sound good?

If you’re looking to adopt Systems Engineering in your business, join us on the upcoming training series being delivered by Burge Hughes Walsh starting on 3rd May.

The workshop series will consist of 8 standalone modules, over the course of 8 weeks. Other than the first 3 sessions (which give a solid introductory base knowledge to build upon), attendees can pick and choose which modules they’d like to attend, based on what will be most relevant to them and their organisation. The 8 sessions include:

  • Module 1 – Overview of Systems Engineering
  • Module 2 – Understanding Requirements
  • Module 3 – Gathering Stakeholder Requirements
  • Module 4 – Analysing Stakeholder Requirements: Concept of Operation
  • Module 5 – Analysing Stakeholder Requirements: Failure and Safety Analysis
  • Module 6 – Generating Preliminary (Concept) Design
  • Module 7 – Performing Detailed Design
  • Module 8 – Verifying and Validating the System

The programme is aimed at individuals who are new to, or have limited experience, in Systems Engineering. Its purpose is to provide attendees with an understanding, overview, and specific knowledge of Systems Engineering concepts, principles, and practice.

Find out more and secure your tickets below!


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