Creating, maintaining and disposing of systems is at the core of systems engineering. To achieve this, Systems Engineers integrate all the disciplines and speciality groups into a team effort.
Definition of a System
At the core of systems engineering is the SYSTEM. INCOSE, the International Council on Systems Engineering, has the following definition of the system:
A system is a construct or collection of different elements that together produce results not obtainable by the elements alone. The elements, or parts, can include people, hardware, software, facilities, policies, and documents; that is, all things required to produce systems-level results. The results include system level qualities, properties, characteristics, functions, behavior and performance. The value added by the system as a whole, beyond that contributed independently by the parts, is primarily created by the relationship among the parts; that is, how they are interconnected.Rechtin, 2000
Systems Engineers have a unique perspective on systems and relationships. This unique perspective is built on a focus of wholes and how the parts within the wholes interrelate. This thinking is necessary to ensure that the systems being developed and maintained are optimised at the systems level (versus sub-systems and components) to ensure that the customer and stakeholder’s needs are satisfied.
Systems Engineering Pillars
The 8 pillars of Systems Engineering are shown in the figure below (courtesy of INCOSE).