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Penn State’s Graduate Systems Engineering Program. James A. Nemes Engineering Division Head Professor of Mechanical Engineering. Penn State Great Valley School of Graduate Professional Studies. Penn State Great Valley.

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Penn State’s Graduate Systems Engineering Program

James A. Nemes

Engineering Division Head

Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Penn State Great Valley

School of Graduate Professional Studies


Penn State Great Valley

  • Penn State Great Valley School of Graduate Professional Studies, part of PSU's Graduate School
  • Created to accommodate the busy schedules of full-time professionals
  • Enrollment of 1900, 44 full-time and 69 part- time faculty members, student/professor ratio of 18:1
  • Divisions: Engineering, Management, and Education
psgv engineering student demographics
PSGVEngineering Student Demographics

Age and Gender

Average is 33yrs old

75% Male, 25% Female

  • Status
    • > 95% Part-time
  • Program Distribution
    • 40% Information Science
    • 30% Software Engineering
    • 30% Systems Engineering
  • Common Employers
    • Lockheed Martin
    • NAVSEA
    • Boeing
    • PJM
    • Vanguard
    • L-3
penn state s systems engineering program
Penn State’s Systems Engineering Program
  • Master of Engineering in Systems Engineering launched in 1998 to meet the growing need for systems engineers.
  • Systems Engineering offered at PNY since 2005.
  • Building 100 Innovation Center at PNY completed 2007.
  • Launched Systems Engineering online in 2008.
  • Projected Enrollment of 250 students for 2009-2010.
Auburn University

Air Force Institute of Technology

Carnegie Mellon University

Fraunhofer Center at UMD

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Missouri University of Science and Technology (S&T)

Naval Postgraduate School

Systems Engineering Research Center

Lead University

Principal Collaborator


  • Pennsylvania State University
  • Southern Methodist University
  • Texas A&M University
  • Texas Tech University
  • University of Alabama in Huntsville
  • University of California at San Diego
  • University of Maryland
  • University of Massachusetts
  • University of Virginia
  • Wayne State University

As the DoD Systems Engineering Research-University Affiliated Research Center, SERC is responsible for systems engineering research that supports the development, integration, testing and sustainability of complex defense systems, enterprises and services. Its members are located in 11 states, near many DoD facilities and all DAU campuses.


the philadelphia navy yard
The Philadelphia Navy Yard
  • Hottest-growing technology/life sciences zones in the region.
  • PSU is a major partner in the Keystone Innovation Zone
  • Location much more convenient for our Philadelphia, New Jersey and Delaware students

Why Go to Online Delivery?

  • Expand the geographic reach of the program.
    • - Sloan study showed that 85% of students in online programs come from within 50 miles of campus (classified as local ) or from surrounding states (classified as regional)
  • Reach student’s whose professional and personal schedules do not permit them to take classes in traditional, hybrid, or blended modes of delivery.

Is A SYSTEMS ENGINEERING Program A Good Candidate For Online Delivery?


Engineering programs have relatively low penetration rates into online learning compared with other disciplines.

Systems Engineering programs traditionally are not laboratory based.

Relatively few ‘system’s-engineering centric’ master’s program across the US, with a small percentage available in a fully online mode of delivery.

Systems engineering is a professional discipline, with a majority of students pursuing graduate education on a part-time basis.

Open Enrollment –

Greater flexibility.

Students can stop out when necessary.

Requires greater resources upfront.

Cohort –

Course development can be spread over time.

Students must commit to intense period of study.

Pedagogical advantages –

Known course sequence.

Helps develop a ‘learning community’

Promotes more a supportive learning environment.

Develops a sense of camaraderie.

Program Format

mode of delivery
Mode of Delivery
  • Synchronous delivery using videoconferencing technology allows traditional lectures to be broadcast to any remote location.
  • Two-way communication allows remote students to be in the same ‘classroom’ as traditional students.
  • Asynchronous web-based delivery is fundamentally different.
    • Instructor becomes a facilitator of learning.
    • Students change from being passive receptors to more responsible active learners.

What Should Be Contained in a Graduate Systems Engineering Curriculum?

Students usually have a diverse background – undergraduate degrees in aerospace, electrical or mechanical engineering, or physics, mathematics or computer science.

Very few have an undergrad degree in systems engineering or have had any academic exposure to systems engineering.


On SE:

Systems Engineering is an academic as well as a practitioner’s discipline that must be based on fundamental and statistically sound empirical research.

On Graduate Master’s SE Programs:

Provide students that have a solid engineering background the skills they need to become systems engineers.

Fundamentally different than training.


INCOSE Curriculum

Specialization Courses (9 cr.)

Core Courses (12 Cr)

Introductory Courses (9 Cr.)

Foundation Courses



  • Foundation Courses
    • General Mathematics
    • Probability and Statistics
  • Introductory Courses
    • Fundamentals of Systems Engineering
    • Introduction to Systems Engineering Management

Courses (Cont)

  • Core Courses
    • Systems Design/Architecture
    • Systems Integration/Test
    • Quality, Safety, and Systems Sustainability
    • Modeling, Simulation, and Optimization
    • Decisions, Risk and Uncertainty

Courses (Cont)

  • Specialization Courses
    • Software Systems Engineering
    • General Project Management
    • Finance, Economics, and Cost Estimation
    • Manufacturing, Production, and Operations
    • Organizational Leadership
    • Engineering Ethics and Legal Considerations
    • Master’s Project

Courses (CONT)

  • Specialization Courses
    • Software Systems Engineering
    • General Project Management
    • Finance, Economics, and Cost Estimation
    • Manufacturing, Production, and Operations
    • Organizational Leadership
    • Engineering Ethics and Legal Considerations
    • Master’s Project
penn state curriculum 36 credits
Penn State Curriculum (36 credits)

Technical Project Management (S)

Engineering Analysis I (F)

Systems Engineering (I)

Systems Optimization (C)

Probability Models and Simulation (F)

Deterministic Models and Simulation (C)

Decision and Risk Analysis in Engineering (C)

Creativity and Problem Solving I (S)

Creativity and Problem Solving II (S)

Requirements Engineering (C)

Systems Architecture (S)

Master’s Paper (S)