A Tale of Systems Engineering Knowledge: Understanding what to Know.

Speaker: Claus Ballegaard Nielsen
Venue: Hamburg (June 1st 2015), Copenhagen (June 2nd 2015), Stockholm (June 3nd 2015), Helsinki (June 4th 2015)

The leading text of the INCOSE Vision 2025 reads “Systems Engineering focuses on ensuring the pieces work together to achieve the objectives of the whole”. The question that springs to mind is how does Systems Engineering actually achieve this: “What is at the core of Systems Engineering?” The answer is generally something along the lines of: a cross-disciplinary approach that has a focus on the development and operational aspects, such as requirements, functions, design, integration, testing, service and sustainment throughout the life-cycle of a system, as well as the documentation of all of these aspects.

Systems Engineering is however a very diverse field with many altering and differing ideas, interpretations and approaches. Therefore it can be challenging to get an overview of what practitioners actually are working on and experiencing across the whole system life cycle; what are the struggles, the approaches, the failures and the successes of the Systems Engineering practitioner? What makes up the Systems Engineering knowledge?

This talk will look at the 25 years of Systems Engineering knowledge that has been gathered through INCOSE and will use it to provide an insight into the trends and patterns that, by the sum of its parts, forms a core part of the existing Systems Engineering knowledge. The talk will not only give the participants a better understanding of the Systems Engineering knowledge area, but also show why it is important in both the advancement of the field and as a means of preventing loss of expertise.

Systems Engineering is a young discipline in the history of engineering and compared to other engineering disciplines it is still establishing its knowledge area. This not only involves gathering the data of the discipline, but also the establishment of methods for capturing, processing and disseminating this information. The talk will present the Systems Engineering Body of Knowledge (SEBoK) that is a relatively new endeavour aimed at creating a guide to the breadth and depth of Systems Engineering related knowledge. Finally, the talk will show how having a body of knowledge is key in the transfer of knowledge and skills between organisations, countries, cultures and fields of expertise. This is of particular importance to knowledge-based societies, such as those found in the Nordic Region. The Nordic countries have some of the strongest economies in the world, but these build on a foundation of key industries such as oil, transportation, IT and telecommunications, healthcare, manufacturing, and defence. All of which are industries that depend highly on engineers and their ability to apply their knowledge.

  • In a nutshell this talk will:
    use a bit of history to show why understanding the knowledge of a discipline is so important. Not only can it be used to show its trends, its scope and its direction, but it is also key in the disciplines future development.
  • provide an insight in how this knowledge already is being captured and utilized in order to improve the Systems Engineering discipline as a whole.
  • show how maintaining and understanding the Systems Engineering knowledge is a key factor in approaching INCOSE Systems Engineering Vision 2020 topics, such as the expansion of the theoretical foundation for systems engineering, enhancement of education and training, and application of systems engineering across industry domains.

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