Thursday, January 25, 2007

George Jemmott: The engineering of modern technical systems

We were asked to read at least one of the papers on "What is systems engineering?" written by the students in last semester's Systems class and give a brief summary and commentary. This is my take on George Jemmott's, which I mostly agree with.

Systems engineering is not fuzzy, nor is it all "people skills," nor is it management. It's engineering.

Since systems are complex arrangements of subsystems, all technologically assisted actions constitute systems. Since the subsystems will change as technologies and the cultures they exist within progress, the exact technical definition of a system can't be pinned down to specific disciplines, tools, or even mental models to some extent.

Systems engineering involves understanding, creating, maintaining, and otherwise working with these evolving complex technical systems. You can understand a system when you understand its subcomponents, either through prior direct experience or rapid learning facilitated by indirect experience, so systems engineers typically have plenty of years logged in a variety of different things.

No comments: