What is Systems Engineering?

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 Thinking

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).

Would you like to know more?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Like this article?

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp
Nicole Andrews

Nicole Andrews

Nicole has been providing value to Australian companies and government for over 20 years. A mechanical engineer by degree, Nicole cut her teeth in the marine engineering field where she got the opportunity to maintain one of her favourite machines – the gas turbine. In 2003, Nicole decided to consolidate her mechanical engineering training with design in a large industry project. Once consolidated she then worked on growing her maintenance engineering experience to other areas of asset management, logistics engineering and information systems. With this foundation of knowledge and experience, she then went into business for herself as a professional consultant and ultimately led to NAPES Solutions being created in 2014.

Over her career, Nicole has worked hard to add value in development of new contracts (acquisition and support), establishing support arrangements, determining supportability needs, advice in life cycle engineering and sustainable manufacturing (including disposal), development of and review of engineering changes, establishing and auditing configuration baselines, development and implementation of various information systems (maintenance, configuration, inventory, financial etc), studies and reports including reliability based (such as spares analysis) and data analysis based, development of and conduct of and review of training, development of and review of technical publications, and much more.

Throughout these 20 plus years, Nicole has been driven by the desire to minimise waste and maximise value. This has led to her signature 3 pillars of enduring, support and sustainable.