from The Open University
Alternatively you can skip the navigation by pressing 'Enter'.
The Great British Year: WinterMonday, 5th October 2015 21:00 - BBC FourA frozen nation, but not a wasteland... Read more: The Great British Year: Winter
Canals: The Making of a Nation: HeritageTuesday, 6th October 2015 20:00 - BBC Four
The world’s busiest railway 2015 – Mumbai Railway: Episode 4Wednesday, 7th October 2015 00:45 - BBC Two
Canals: The Making of a Nation: HeritageWednesday, 7th October 2015 00:55 - BBC Four
The Bottom Line: Autumn 2015: Art and the Business of TasteAvailable for over a yearHow do you value something like a painting? What makes one artist worth more than another? Who decides what is in... Read more: The Bottom Line: Autumn 2015: Art and the Business of Taste
The world’s busiest railway 2015 – Mumbai Railway: Episode 4Available until Friday, 6th November 2015 01:15
BBC Inside Science: Preserving global diversity: Kew specialAvailable for over a year
Countdown To Life: The Extraordinary Making Of You: The Final PushAvailable until Saturday, 31st October 2015 00:15
Doping in rugby union: a case of papering over the cracks?Gavin Williams discusses the issue of doping and statistics on usage of performance-enhancing... Read more: Doping in rugby union: a case of papering over the cracks?
OpenLearn Live: 5th October 2015Starting a week exploring the people and places of the smallest county - then more free learning... Read more: OpenLearn Live: 5th October 2015
Beginners' ChineseLearn about Mandarin Chinese as a tool for communication and gain insights into Chinese society... Try: Beginners' Chinese now
English: skills for learningThis course is for anybody who is thinking of studying for a university degree and would like to... Try: English: skills for learning now
Systems engineering: Challenging complexity
This unit examines system engineering and why it is important. You will learn to...
This unit examines system engineering and why it is important. You will learn to identify and evaluate the importance of relationships within the process and assess the relative importance of stakeholders. You will also be able to classify a systems engineering project in terms of the balance of demands, choice and constraints.
After studying this unit you should be able to:
- evaluate a specific example or case of a product development process in terms of the ‘waterfall’ life cycle model of software development;
- classify new product developments as: fault correction, enhancements, new but similar products, radically different, revolutionary or iconoclastic products;
- analyse the causes of a systems failure;
- identify and evaluate the importance of the relationships of the factors leading up to system complication and complexity;
- answer the question ‘why is systems engineering important?’
- define the difference in process between science and engineering;
- identify and analyse the importance of stakeholders involved in a systems engineering project;
- classify a systems engineering project in terms of the balance of demands, choice and constraints;
- analyse a system using input-output diagramming;
- estimate the lag involved in controlling a system;
- analyse a ‘rich picture’;
- evaluate the differences between a generic model of systems engineering and a software specific model;
- summarise the characteristics of the systems engineering approach;
- identify the main features of the approach to systems engineering adopted by the OU course team and which forms the basis for the structure and teaching in the original course.
- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 Why is systems engineering important?
- 1.1 Introduction: what is the problem?
- 1.2 The Phoenix project
- 1.3 Example 1 The Workcenter that didn't
- 1.4 Example 2: The Bridge of Sighs (and Wobbles)
- 1.5 Increasing complication, complexity and risk: the underlying relationship
- 1.6 Increasing complication, complexity and risk: mystery and mechanics
- 1.7 Increasing complication, complexity and risk: a spectrum of systems intractability
- 1.8 Increasing complication, complexity and risk: are systems becoming more complex?
- 1.9 Increasing complication, complexity and risk: summary
- 2 What is engineering?
- 3 What is systems?
- 3.1 Introduction
- 3.2 Systems concepts: system
- 3.3 System concepts: holism
- 3.4 Systems concepts: structure
- 3.5 Systems concepts: dynamic behaviour: input-transformation-output
- 3.6 Systems concepts: dynamic behaviour: control
- 3.7 Systems methodologies for managing change
- 3.8 Systems methodologies for managing change: hard systems approach
- Stage 1: Problem definition (what is the problem?)
- Stage 2: Analysis of the existing situation (where are we now?)
- Stage 3: Identification of objectives and constraints (where would we like to be?)
- Stage 4: Generation of routes to objectives (how could we get there?)
- Stage 5: Formulating measures of performance (how will we know when we have arrived?)
- Stage 6: Developing the options (what would the options be like?)
- Stage 7: Option testing (how well will each work?)
- Stage 8: Choice (OK, let's go)
- 3.9 Systems methodologies for managing change: soft systems approach
- 3.10 Systems techniques
- 3.11 Summary
- 4 What is systems engineering? The career of a concept
- 4.1 Beginnings
- 4.2 The use of systems analysis in public policy
- 4.3 The use of systems engineering in organisations
- 4.4 The use of systems engineering in organisations: different organisational arrangements
- 4.5 Methodologies associated with information technology
- 4.6 Systems engineering: the recent development of a discipline
- 4.7 Summary
- 5 The orignial course team's approach to systems engineering
- 6 Summary
- Module team
Study this free course
Enrol to access the full course, get recognition for the skills you learn and track your progress. Make your learning visible!
Systems engineering: challenging complexity
The aim of this unit is to answer five questions:
Why is systems engineering important?
What is modern engineering?
What is systems?
What is systems engineering?
What approach to systems engineering does the course adopt?
This unit is from our archive and is an adapted extract from Systems engineering (T837) which is no longer taught by The Open University. If you want to study formally with us, you may wish to explore other courses we offer in.
This is an extract from an Open University course which is no longer available to new students. If you found this interesting you could explore more free Systems (Computer) courses or view the range of currently available OU Systems (Computer) courses.
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Thursday, 28th July 2011
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements section.
- This site has Copy Reuse Tracking enabled - see our FAQs for more information.
If you enjoyed this, why not follow a feed to find out when we have new things like it? Choose an RSS feed from the list below. (Don't know what to do with RSS feeds?)
Remember, you can also make your own, personal feed by combining tags from around OpenLearn.