Introduction to Systems Engineering

Undergraduate & graduate course, Duke University, Pratt School of Engineering, 2015

Introduction to the theory, principles, and methods used to conceive, design and analyze systems. Focus areas include problem identification, description, modeling and simulation, design, test and evaluation issues, as well as more broad lifecycle concerns. Two 1.5 hr classes weekly. Prerequisite: Senior standing in engineering.

My Contribution

• Led lectures on simulation, software and product lifecycle management for 30 students/term. • Mentored mechanical engineering, management students’ projects for BD Technologies, NASA.

Learning Outcomes

• Understand the roles and responsibilities of typical systems engineers, and how these fit into a company’s overall organization. • Understand how fundamental concepts from disciplines such as probability, economics, and cognitive science relate to systems engineering. • Apply systems engineering tools (e.g., stakeholder identification, requirements development and management, robust design principles) to realistic problems. • Formulate an effective plan for gathering and using technical and sociotechnical data. • Identify areas that could be served by modeling and simulation, and identify the associated benefits and limitations. • Understand how to design for and manage the system lifecycle. • Develop a systems engineering plan for a realistic project. • Be able to evaluate a systems engineering plan for soundness and identify areas of strengths and weaknesses.

Case Studies

• WTC collapse • BMW iDrive • Denver airport baggage handling opening • Mars Climate Orbiter • Therac 25 • rollout • Boeing 787 battery problem • Boston Big Dig • Chernobyl • The Chinese “Great Leap Forward” program • Malpasset Dam collapse • Toyota unintended acceleration • Antibiotic debate • Union Carbide Bhopal accident • Columbia Shuttle • Concorde 203 • Deepwater Horizon spill • Amagasaki rail crash vs. Spain Santiago rail-crash • Fukushima • Y2K bug • London Ambulance Service computer aided dispatch problem October 1992 • Pipeline release of hazardous liquid May 23, 1996 Gramercy, LA • Grounding of the ship Royal Majesty June 10, 1995 Nantucket, Massachusetts • British Columbia M/V Queen of the North sinking March 22, 2006 • MV Bright Field Accident December 14, 1996 New Orleans, LA