Perspectives on Systems


Credit Hours:


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 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 4 distinct approaches to SE concepts/tools. Individual assignments and team projects based on readings from multiple approaches and selected case studies. Participants encouraged to bring own prior expertise and examples to discussions/projects. Course will discuss quantitative topics (including cybernetics, feedback control systems, and statistical process control), but the course itself will emphasize a more interdisciplinary conceptual integration rather than detailed implementations of these topics.

Topics Covered:

Systems thinking, systems dynamics and cybernetics, component-whole integration, project management, information architectures, robustness and resilience, distributed expertise, system stability and event response


Graduate standing or permission of instructor. Advanced mathematical sophistication is not assumed.

Applied / Theory:

55 / 45

Web Address:

Web Content:

Handouts, lecture notes, and readings posted through Blackboard system.


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


Required. Team-based semester project, with project overview and final 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: Required texts posted through Brightspace system. Supplemental text: "Thinking in Systems", D. H. Meadows.

Computer Requirements:

ProEd Minimum Computer Requirements.

ProEd Minimum Requirements: