Most scholars find it hard to define systems engineering not because they lack the words to describe it, but because of its enormous scope, which encompass almost all fields of engineering disciplines. One particular problem in defining systems engineering is the word, ‘system’ itself. As observed by scholars, the word ‘system’ can create confusion because it can mean many things (Fraser, & Gosavi). For instance, when the word system is mentioned, several embodiment come to mind. One might think about computer systems, electrical systems or industrial systems to mention a few fields of engineering that are concerned about systems. Because of its broad scope, there are several definitions that came out to describe systems engineering. One of the most common definition is that systems engineering is “an interdisciplinary approach and means to enable the realization of successful systems”. The word ‘interdisciplinary’ gives people an idea that systems engineering is not only applicable in one or few industries, but encompass a wide variety of applications.
In order to become a systems engineer, one must have a bachelor in engineering first; preferably in fields related to systems or deals primarily with systems. Experts suggest that individuals who are interested in pursuing a career in systems engineering should pursue traditional engineering disciplines such as computer and information technology, electrical, mechanical and industrial engineering in order for him or her to get a good grasp of what a system is, how to design it and how to manipulate it in order to address the needs of stakeholders (Fraser, & Gosavi). A systems engineer’s academic preparations include taking electives such as “computer networks, robotics, aerospace, technology management, etc.”. There are also graduate programs available in systems engineering and most countries have regulating bodies that provide certification for system engineers.
The primary function of systems engineers is to design systems and make sure that they are working smoothly. According to the International Council on Systems Engineering, systems engineers are tasked with the creation, implementation and management of several processes in order to satisfy the demand of customers or stakeholders in a “high quality, trustworthy, cost efficient and schedule compliant manner throughout a system's entire life cycle”. It is observed, for instance, that when different parts or processes are combined, they form a system which has unique characteristics that could not be fully explained by the different parts or processes that contains it (Fraser, & Gosavi). System engineers are the ones who study, analyzes and creates solutions to complex processes by creating a systems design that is economical, efficient and reliable. They are also the ones who make sure that everything goes smoothly as designed and that the system in place is sustainable.
Since the job description of systems engineers is related to almost all engineering disciplines, most industries are always in need of them. For the same reason, systems engineers are among those who enjoy strong demand for their profession. The average salary of a systems engineer, for instance, is about $75,000 annually. Systems engineers can work in a variety of industries, whether it is public or private. Systems engineers, for instance, can work for the government, in almost all of its agencies, most especially in the military. They can also work on the computers and information industry or even develop systems for health and welfare services. Systems engineers play an important role in society primarily because they are experts in systems. The systems engineer, for instance, understands how components can be manipulated in order to provide a simpler and more predictable outcome. Stakeholders rely on them to analyze and create processes that work in the most efficient way possible. For the same reason, systems engineers are very much needed, especially in today’s modern society.
Fraser, J., & Gosavi, A. What is Systems Engineering. 2010. January 2016 <http://web.mst.edu/~gosavia/fraser_gosavi.pdf>.
INCOSE. What is Systems Engineering? n.d. January 2016 <http://www.incose.org/AboutSE/WhatIsSE>.
Infosec Institute. Systems Engineer. n.d. January 2016 <http://www.infosecinstitute.com/jobs/systems-engineer.html>.
SR Education Group. How to Become a Systems Engineer. 2016. January 2016 <http://www.howtobecome.com/how-to-become-a-systems-engineer>.
Systems Engineering Fundamentals. 2001. January 2016 <http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/aeronautics-and-astronautics/16-885j-aircraft-systems-engineering-fall-2005/readings/sefguide_01_01.pdf>.