Systems engineering: Challenging complexity
Systems engineering: Challenging complexity

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This course has covered the background to systems engineering. It began by addressing the question ‘Why is systems engineering important?’ Two reasons were discussed:

  • projects go wrong, and the increasing incorporation of software means that they go wrong more often now than in the past

  • complication, complexity and risk are all increasing and need to be managed.

In the second section I examined the development of engineering and concluded that, until recently, it has been methodologically naive and has lacked the awareness of the importance of process shown in science. The systems approaches were then discussed in Section 3 in terms of:

  • a set of concepts

  • two generic methodologies

  • analytical and design techniques.

Section 4 addressed the question ‘What is systems engineering?’ by looking at its origins and development during the second half of the twentieth century. It covered:

  • the beginnings and early development of the subject as policy analysis

  • the use of systems engineering in organisations

  • the methodologies that developed in association with information technology

  • recent developments in systems engineering.

Finally, in Section 5 I explained the original course team's approach to systems engineering in terms of:

  • a hierarchy of elements from business strategy to specific activities or tasks

  • a set of aims to do with the outputs and process of systems engineering

  • a methodology consisting of a set of life cycle stages and technical processes.

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