Systems Engineering

Overview of Systems Engineering

Systems engineering is an interdisciplinary field that blends many different aspects of engineering to present students with a holistic educational experience. The major teaches students how to manage, design, and implement various complex engineering projects over their life cycles. The degree is available at all levels of higher education.
Students who take the lead on tasks and projects, organizing them and controlling workflow will find themselves right at home in a systems engineering program. The field of systems engineering places students into different positions at companies across industries where they manage their research and manufacturing processes. The field itself is actually relatively new, as the term can be traced to Bell Telephone Laboratories in the forties, and the National Council on Systems Engineering was founded in 1990.

Curriculum for Systems Engineering

The advancement of systems engineering is no coincidence as companies start realizing the value added through careful execution and planning of their various projects. Some of the courses students can expect to take in the major include:

  • Calculus
  • Probability and statistics
  • Engineering management
  • Systems design/architecture
  • Modeling, simulation and optimization
  • Finance and economics
  • Materials sourcing
  • Project management
  • Organizational leadership
  • General engineering
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Systems engineering software

Due to the interdisciplinary nature of systems engineering, students are exposed to a variety of courses in different engineering fields. This allows them to gain the knowledge required to work in many different industries after graduation. The point of systems engineering is to improve the way in which organizations undertake projects. As a basic analogy, systems engineering is the science of engineering execution.

How to Enroll in Systems Engineering

According to The College Board, there are 78 brick and mortar colleges and universities offering programs in systems engineering. The major is continually increasing in popularity as more companies realize the savings and improvements that can be attained from the discipline. There are other majors that can be earned which focus on systems engineering. Industrial engineering is a similar major to systems engineering as it focuses on improving the way that various organizations operate. Operations management is another major with a similar curriculum, although it is not an engineering degree. A good idea for systems engineering majors is to couple the degree with a minor or major in information science or business, as these are important aspects of their future careers.

Benefits and Rewards of Systems Engineering

Working in systems engineering allows you to see tangible benefits of your efforts. The improvements made at your recommendation will be noticeable to your company and you will be rewarded handsomely for your efforts. You will be responsible for planning the life cycle and development of innovative projects that make a difference in the world.

Job Opportunities in Systems Engineering

Students majoring in systems engineering can find employment as engineers in various fields depending on their experience and exposure to different concepts in school. They can also become project managers and operations managers wherein they coordinate an organization's processes. According to a July 2009 survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the average starting salary for engineers ranged from $52,048 to $83,121 depending on the engineering discipline entered. Operations managers earned a mean annual wage of $114,490 in May 2011 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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