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Overview of Systems Engineering
Systems engineering is responsible for the management and design of long term engineering and manufacturing goals, including the gathering and distribution of resources. Systems engineers are responsible for a large number of aspects related to a given project, such as team communication, risk management, operations, logistics, and optimization.
What is Systems Engineering?
Systems engineering is an interdisciplinary approach ensuring the successful integration and operation of a system. Systems engineers define the needs of the customer and all requisite functionality, documentation, and capabilities of their desired system prior to system design. A systems engineer is trained to coalesce the following disciplines into a singular, integrative system to achieve optimal results for the customer: documentation, cost, scheduling, facilities, software, hardware, operations, performance, testing, fabrication, manufacturing, training, recycling, and technical support.
By creating an integrative ecosystem of resources and specialists, a systems engineer is able to assimilate the team around a set of goals from conceptualization to production and distribution. Bringing the right people together with the right resources through customer alignment ensures business needs and technical know-how are seamlessly part of the process from start to finish.
How to Become a Systems Engineer
Bahill and Gissing created a process that encapsulates the engineering process in a series of steps with the acronym SIMILAR. This process is outlined below in a concise fashion to give you an idea of the steps involved in the systems engineering process without overcomplicating the process:
- State the Problem: Systems engineering begins by describing the issue and top-level functions of a system with input from all stakeholders in the process defining what needs to be accomplished.
- Investigate Alternatives: Alternative designs are measured upon empirical data such as cost, scheduling, risk, and performance capabilities. through data modeling and simulations.
- Model the System: All viable designs are put through a series of data modeling and simulations with performing systems placed on the real system to completing testing cycles.
- Integrate: The integration phase brings together all disparate disciplines into one system to further be evaluated and tested.
- Launch the System: In this phase of systems engineering, the team runs the system and produces measurable outputs. The outputs are verified and validated against the baseline model in singular site or multi-site environment.
- Assess Performance: In this phase, data is utilized to determine the technical capability, metrics, and merit of the system and their respective subsystems.
- Reevaluate: In systems engineering, the feedback loop of reevaluation is arguably the most critical to ensure a quality system, evaluating efficacy, performance improvements, and continual improvement mechanisms across the entire system.
Top Systems Engineering Degrees
In order to become a systems engineer you will first need to obtain the necessary education to perform the job. Earning a college degree from an accredited college or university in systems engineering can come in a few different variants. We have outlined a few options below for your consideration when thinking about a career as a systems engineer.
Bachelor Degree in Systems Engineering
An on-site or online bachelor’s degree is systems engineering is a 4-year, full time program and seen as the entry-point into a career in the field. By integrating business acumen with engineering techniques and mathematical knowledge, you will be able to more effectively design and operate systems of all types. Graduates with a systems engineering degree can find themselves working in an array of industries from finance, engineering, technology, communication, environmental, project management, software, transportation, or marketing to name a few.
Master’s Degree in Systems Engineering
The master’s degree in systems engineering is a 1-2 year graduate program that provides business-critical skills to practitioners in the ever-complex, interconnected global business environment. Students will take a number of upper level classes to upskill in systems engineering such as: system architecture, systems design, systems integration, project management, logistics, integrated supply chain management, and dynamic modeling. Graduates of the online master’s degree program will intimately understand systems integration, quality control, operations management, and life cycles at the system level in a hyper-competitive ecosystem where productivity, complexity, and globalization are the norm.
Doctorate Degree in Systems Engineering
The doctoral program will often be seen in a course catalog as a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Systems Engineering. This program will focus on impactful research methodology plus top-tier design thinking to help push the field of systems engineering into a new frontier. A PhD graduate will be expertly trained to become a systems thinker linking engineering, management, and technical challenges to reduce complexity and increase productivity through quality systems.
Professional Certifications in Systems Engineering
After earning your college degree in systems engineering, you will be trained to analyze, design, implement, and maintain systems of all types across an enterprise. To best prepare you for a specific job as a recent graduate or to upskill in your current company, it may be worth considering a professional certification in systems engineering. Professional certificates can come in a number of different types from different providers but can bolster your resume and enhance your skills within the field. A few examples of professional certifications for systems engineers include:
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE)
- Oracle Java Certifications
- Red Hat Certifications
- Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP)
- College Certifications in Systems Engineering
- INCOSE: ASEP, CSEP, ESEP
College Requirements for Systems Engineers
An education in systems engineering is generally offered at the bachelor degree level, although graduate studies may be pursued. Individuals will learn a variety of skills, including management, engineering, communication, optimization and more, and then develop the skills necessary to weave these disciplines together in order to be able to perform as a systems engineer. Study can take up to six years and requires extensive research and training.
A curriculum may include:
- Communication Methodologies
- Risk Assessment and Reduction
- Engineering Principles
- Management and Maintenance
- Resource and Distribution
Students seeking education in systems engineering should seek out programs that have access to internships or other resources that will allow for practical development of these skills alongside more traditional classroom education. Students should contact departments to see if such opportunities are available when making their choice of school.
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Employment Opportunities in Systems Engineering
Individuals in this field will generally be in a supervisory position for projects that require detail-oriented work and the management of information and resources to ensure that the work is completed in a timely and efficient manner. Individuals will also be responsible for supply, restocking, distribution, maintenance and any other factors to ensure that project longevity and viability is secured.
The International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) is a professional organization dedicated to providing information for systems engineers in order to better work performance globally and provide better working conditions and systems. Member of this organization share information and ideas within the field in order to promote growth and development.
Career Outlook for Systems Engineers
Systems engineers are in high demand and can command a competitive salary from large corporations and government agencies around the country. For people with the right attributes and professional demeanor, the interdisciplinary role of a systems engineer can be a solid vocational opportunity. Annual income for a systems engineer can range from $86,500 to $135,000 depending on the geographic location and scope of job responsibilities.