Breakout group 2 top 4 challenges to successful undergraduate systems engineering programs
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Breakout Group 2: Top 4 Challenges to Successful Undergraduate Systems Engineering Programs. Facilitator: Prof. George Donohue Presented to 1 st Workshop on U.S. Undergraduate Programs in Systems Engineering held at USAF Academy 7-8 April, 2010.

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Breakout Group 2: Top 4 Challenges to Successful Undergraduate Systems Engineering Programs

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Breakout group 2 top 4 challenges to successful undergraduate systems engineering programs

Breakout Group 2:Top 4 Challenges to Successful Undergraduate Systems Engineering Programs

Facilitator: Prof. George Donohue

Presented to 1st Workshop on U.S. Undergraduate Programs in Systems Engineering

held at USAF Academy

7-8 April, 2010


Top 5 challenges to successful undergraduate systems engineering programs

Top 5 Challenges to Successful Undergraduate Systems Engineering Programs

  • You have 4 hours to answer this question;

    • Your answer should be summarized in clear English on one viewgraph.  Additional viewgraphs can elaborate on that crisp summary statement.

    • Where possible, the answer should be the consensus of the entire group. If this is not possible, and there is a fairly even division among the group about the "correct" answer, then multiple answers should be offered together with the reasoning why no consensus could be reached. If only one or two people will not concur with the position of the remainder of the group, the group should report out on the views of the vast majority of the group.

    • The group should clearly and explicitly state the underlying assumptions;

    • The rationale for each important aspect of the answer should be clear and explicit; e.g., Group 2 should state the reasons they selected each of the top 5 challenges.

    • The group should state recommendations to academia, the government, or industry, based on their answer.  Each recommendation should be accompanied by a rationale.

  • Each facilitator will have about 30 minutes to report the results of his breakout session.


Underlying assumptions

Underlying Assumptions

Systems engineering (SE) is viable as an undergraduate program

~130 credit hours (8 semesters)

SE degree needs to be “engineering” degree

Adding SE content to other engineering programs is outside of scope of today’s discussion

Little ABET or professional society guidance for SE (constraints) exists

Customers = Students, Employers, Society


Top 4 challenges for successful undergraduate se programs

Top 4 Challenges for Successful Undergraduate SE Programs

  • Understanding and meeting customers needs within curriculum constraints

  • Sustaining technical and societal relevance

  • Incorporating sufficient real-world problem solving into curriculum

  • Identity-communications-community of practice

These are not in priority order.


First challenge for successful undergraduate se programs

First Challenge for Successful Undergraduate SE Programs

  • Understanding and meeting customers needs within curriculum constraints

    • Leadership

    • Technical communication skills

    • Right blend of classical engineering and SE courses

  • Recommendations:

  • Proper advisory boards

  • ~50% of SE courses contain written and oral requirements with feedback

  • Mechanism to capture feedback from customers on adequacy of program, including appropriate metrics


Second challenge for successful undergraduate se programs

Second Challenge for Successful Undergraduate SE Programs

  • Sustaining technical and societal relevance

    • Maintain adequate internal and external funding

    • Provide opportunities for interdisciplinary experience

  • Recommendations:

  • Leverage advisory board to gain relevant feedback

  • Develop special interdisciplinary capstone projects, possibly campus-wide

  • Solicit sponsorship from government and industry

  • Establish a mechanism and encourage sharing of emerging technical tools for a broader community

  • Develop multi-university capstone projects


Third challenge for successful undergraduate se programs

Third Challenge for Successful Undergraduate SE Programs

  • Incorporating sufficient real-world problem solving into curriculum

    • Attracting Experienced faculty with System Design (i.e. synthesis & social sciences) Experience

    • Good Capstone Projects

      • High Complexity but Tractable

      • Good sponsors

    • Adequately documented Case Studies of SE successes and failures in the design of Large, Open, Complex Systems with Emergent Behavior

  • Recommendations:

  • Engage industry practitioners in regular interactions

  • Establish funding for suitable adjunct and visiting faculty, including Professors of Practice, from government and industry

  • Openly solicit, mentor, and fund capstone projects

  • Have students develop case studies in conjunction with industry

  • Develop clearinghouse for case studies (e.g., teachengineering.com at university level)

  • Develop internship program

  • Develop scholars program

  • Develop professional society-sponsored large-scale problem solving student competition


Fourth challenge for successful undergraduate se programs

Fourth Challenge for Successful Undergraduate SE Programs

  • Identity-communications-community of practice

    • Attracting the proper students

      • Strong Math, Physical Science, Social Science, Synthesis/Creativity and Communications Skills

    • Awareness of SE among students

    • Lack of ABET/Professional Society SE core curriculum definition

  • Recommendations:

  • Encourage SEs to become evaluators

  • Establish the value proposition for undergraduate SE program

  • Engage experience communications practitioners to craft information program

  • Encourage best people to apply for jobs at funding agencies

  • Leverage professional society membership and participation for professors and students

  • Run information sessions for high school students and freshmen

  • Attack problem of incorporating SE/systems thinking into high school science fair projects

  • Offer high school summer camp program with college credit


Reasons for the top 4

Reasons for the Top 4

We listened


Top 4 challenges for successful undergraduate se programs1

Top 4 Challenges for Successful Undergraduate SE Programs

  • Understanding and meeting customers needs within curriculum constraints

    • Leadership

    • Technical communication skills

    • Right blend of classical engineering and SE courses

  • Sustaining technical and societal relevance

    • Maintain adequate internal and external funding

    • Provide opportunities for interdisciplinary experience

  • Incorporating sufficient real-world problem solving into curriculum

    • Attracting Experienced faculty with System Design (i.e. synthesis & social sciences) Experience

    • Good Capstone Projects

      • High Complexity but Tractable

      • Good sponsors

    • Adequately documented Case Studies of SE successes and failures in the design of Large, Open, Complex Systems with Emergent Behavior

  • Identity-communications-community of practice

    • Attracting the proper students

      • Strong Math, Physical Science, Social Science, Synthesis/Creativity and Communications Skills

    • Awareness of SE among students

    • Lack of ABET/Professional Society SE core curriculum definition


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