View Full Version : Career in Systems Engineering.
03-25-2008, 08:12 PM
I thought I would ask folks here :
Have you thought about a career in systems engineering ?
INCOSE Midwest Gateway Chapter President
International Site : www.incose.org
03-26-2008, 12:37 AM
What a good question.
Up until this year I thought that systems engineering sounded like the most boring thing in the entire world. But our team implemented a Systems Integration Team this year, and I am warming up quite nicely to the idea. I am just glad that the school I already chose for next year has the program just in case I change my mind... :D
I now definitely have a much greater understanding of what systems engineering is and truly how much fun it is! So yes, I am beginning to consider it.
03-26-2008, 07:53 AM
Which version of "Systems Engineering" are you referring to? There are no less than seven definitions of what it is as a disipline (this from the folks at the International Council on Systems Engineering - www.incose.org).
Usually it refers to a person -- the "systems engineer", rather than a job description. There is typically only one person with the title of "systems engineer" even on very large projects. In the majority of definitions, it is a very senior-level position (akin to the Program Manager). That person is essentially the lead engineer of a project, and is responsible for ensuring that all of the various disiplines and stakeholders are communicating. As such, it requires experience with a broad range of engineering issues. SE has been around since the 1950's, originating with very large US Air Force development projects.
Although it might ultimately be a great career path, SE cannot be considered the starting point on that path because of the level of experience required (just like a Program Manager position). If a company were to start out a recent grad in a position like that, I'd be very, very cautious about such a situation.
Some of the other definitions of what SE is can be quite different, and much narrower in scope (especially in the fluid power industry). I'm referring to SE as described by ISO 26702:2007.
03-26-2008, 10:18 AM
I'll give you some anecdotal evidence based on my perspective of a Systems Engineer. You don't need a piece of paper that says you know what you're doing to be a SysE. Actually, those pieces of paper in the real world for that particular discipline mean next to nothing. Alex is correct that experience in this field greatly outweighs the education. We have people where I work who's title includes SysE somewhere in it but they never went to school for it. It's something they picked up since they had expertise in a variety of different systems we integrate together for our contracts.
Those particular guys have phases of extreme stress and then phases of boredom. The stress comes the fiscal quarter right before we roll out a product we have a contract for, and the boredom comes just after that. Well, I guess I should say it's "relative" stress and "relative" boredom.
My particular career has considered SysE, but I also still have options to specialize in something. Who knows where I'm going though; I'm only 25 and still have the majority of my career ahead of me.
03-26-2008, 11:13 AM
It's funny how things connect. I was just reading an editorial about what systems engineering can offer to the field of health care. Very interesting. Its called Engineering and the Healthcare Delivery System online at
It's not something that teenagers might think about at first, but if they want to combine engineering thinking with health care or social improvement, its an area of great need.
03-26-2008, 07:10 PM
Very good comments, here is some Q&A that I hope might help demistify Systems Engineering (SE).
Q : Is systems engineering boring ?
A : A key component of systems engineering is to solve problems where people is part of the solution. For me working with people from other areas such as electrical, software and mechanical engineering has always been a humbling experience, I get to learn a lot from other engineering areas, also I get to work with folks from other areas such as marketing, sales, business and logistics. Everyday for me is different.
Q: How come there is so many definitions on what is a systems engineer ?
A : Systems Engineering is not a hard science. Systems Engineers can differ in philosophy the same way doctors can differ on the best way to treat a patient. But something we can all agree is that systems engineering is a inter-disciplinary discipline. Systems Engineers draw knowledge from many disciplines including mathematics, science and even geography. Where should I manufacture a “widget” ?.
Q: Can I consider systems engineering (SE) as a starting point as a career ?
A: YES. The same way not all doctors have thought about becoming specialists such as a Dermatologists, many systems comes from a given area of specialization such myself where I graduated from Electrical Engineering. SE is a new discipline compared to mechanical engineering or other engineering disciplines. There are not many BS degree granting schools but this is changing. In my opinion my generation might be one of the last generations in which a “formal degree in SE” is not required to be a systems engineer.
Here is a questions for everyone :
What kind of domain are you interested ? (medical, aerospace, manufacturing, semiconductors...)
04-06-2008, 01:07 AM
I'm a double major in Systems Engineering and Aeronautics.
Chantilly Robotics Team 612 is mainly based on a System or a System Engineering Model. Some of the major classes in our Academy are also recognized by George Mason University as college credit for their System Engineering Program.
I always wanted to be a manager of some sort, while at the same time i liked breaking things apart and putting them together. So Systems Engineering worked best for me. It's a lot of fun, as most of the classes are mainly 6-8 weeks projects.
Most of the System Engineer students, here in NOVA (northern virginia) are focused on Electrical and Networking. I'm probably the first System Engineer in this area, who has chosen Aeronautics as the main focus.
If you have any questions about Systems Engineering or the Department of Systems Engineering at George Mason University, please let me know.
04-08-2008, 07:25 AM
What classes you are currently taking ?
INCOSE Midwest Gateway Chapter President
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