Engineering Professional Education

Perspectives on Systems Engineering


Fall 2017

Days/Time: TTh / 12:00-1:15 pm
Credit Hours: 3

Learning Objective:
This course will provide students with an introduction to various quantitative and qualitative approaches to systems engineering, with case studies, concepts, and readings to support interdisciplinary project work.

Engineers are frequently asked to solve problems of how to get entities (which may or may not naturally organize themselves in favorable configurations) to operate together in an effective way to achieve a goal. The term "systems engineering" (SE) is often used to refer to several different concepts, disciplines, and technical skills; engineering is both a set of rules and practices for what we do, and the processes of solving problems. However, confusion arises when proponents of one perspective interact with others, without a clear understanding of the variety of SE histories and tools. Each can play an important, complementary role in the development of a robust approach to SE and the role of the human in engineering systems. This course provides an introduction to, and references for, each of four distinct approaches to SE concepts and tools. Individual assignments and team projects will be based on readings from these multiple approaches and selected case studies. Participants will be encouraged to bring their own prior expertise and examples to the discussions and projects. While the course will discuss quantitative topics (including cybernetics, feedback control systems, and statistical process control), the course itself will emphasize a more interdisciplinary conceptual integration rather than stand-alone analysis of these topics.

Topics Covered:
Systems thinking; Cybernetics; Component-Whole integration, Project management, robustness and resilience, distributed expertise, dynamic autonomy, event response. Fall 2017 Syllabus

Graduate standing or permission of instructor.

Web Address:

Web Content:
Handouts, lecture notes, and readings posted through Blackboard system.

See syllabus link in "Topics" above for specific details about assignments.

Required. Two written assignments and a team-based semester project and paper.

No exams.

Official textbook information is now listed in the Schedule of Classes. NOTE: Textbook information is subject to be changed at any time at the discretion of the faculty member. If you have questions or concerns please contact the academic department.
Tentative: Supplemental text: "Thinking in Systems: A Primer", D. H. Meadows (2008/2012). "NASA Systems Engineering Handbook" (2007) ISBN:9781680920499. Additional readings posted through Blackboard system.

Computer Requirements:
ProEd Minimum Computer Requirements.

ProEd Minimum Requirements: view

Tuition & Fees: view


Fall 2017


Barrett Caldwell



Purdue University
Grissom Hall
315 N. Grant Street
West Lafayette, IN 47907-2023


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