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A Distributed Systems Engineering Curriculum For Working Engineers In California

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Innovative Programs - Structure, Delivery, Evaluation

Tagged Division

Continuing Professional Development

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.33.1 - 13.33.9

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Paper Authors

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Robert Crockett California Polytechnic State University


Kurt Colvin California Polytechnic State University

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Kurt Colvin joined the Cal Poly faculty in January 2000. He completed a Ph.D. in industrial engineering at Oregon State University in 1999, preceded by a Master's degree in 1997. He has worked as Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) development engineer at Festo Corporation, process engineer at Frito-Lay, systems engineer at System's Integrators, Inc. and Ameridata, where he gained broad experience in many aspects of manufacturing and information systems. He attended Cal Poly receiving a Bachelor's degree in industrial engineering in 1991. He currently teaches manufacturing simulation, industrial automation and Computer Aided Design and Manufacture (CAD/CAM).

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Joel Shrater The Aerospace Corporation


Daphne Dador California Space Education & Workforce Institute

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Daphne Dador received her M.A. from the George Washington University in Space Policy and Communications. She also holds a certificate from the International Space University. Dador is currently a project manager at the California Space Education & Workforce Institute where she oversees STEM-related education and workforce development projects through a state and federal economic development initiative. As an active member of the space community, her work has often focused on attracting young people to become involved in space activities and careers. She has held leadership roles within numerous space advocacy organizations including the National Space Society and the Space Generation Congress. Committed to representing the aerospace community and its needs she’s been awarded a Boeing Fellowship, a Washington Space Business Roundtable Scholarship, among others.

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Matt Everingham California Space Authority

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A Distributed Systems Engineering Curriculum for Working Engineers in California Introduction

As part of a workforce initiative grant, we are developing a catalog and curricular structure to enable working engineers in California to obtain Systems Engineering education from a variety of providers in a self-paced manner. The target audience for this effort is companies and individuals who require better Systems Engineering capabilities, but lack the resources and infrastructure for training. These include second-tier suppliers to the aerospace industry, biomedical engineering companies, IT, utilities, etc. A list of 44 “Systems Engineering Competencies” was identified and prioritized through surveys sent to a broad cross-section of California corporations. A search for California-based providers of Systems Engineering coursework (primarily universities, but also government and private organizations) resulted in 200+ courses from nominally 20 providers in a delivery format suitable for working professionals: evening, weekend, short-course, and distance-learning. These classes were cross- referenced to the competencies, which were further grouped into a core set of critical skills plus three Systems Engineering Concentrations: SE Management, SE Processes, and SE Techniques. By the end of this program, a pilot run of 100 students will have attended a 3-day SE Fundamentals seminar, which will provide both an overview of Systems Engineering and a “roadmap” to independently continue their Systems Engineering education. The physical embodiment of the roadmap is a course catalog that provides the cross referencing between Systems Engineering Competencies and suitable courses, as well as offers curricular guidelines based upon the SE concentrations.


The Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED) Systems Engineering Development Program is an initiative developed under a grant from the US Department of Labor and administered by the California Space Authority. The program is designed for degreed engineers who are currently employed, and who have a need and/or desire to enhance their knowledge, skills, and competencies in Systems Engineering. There is a growing concern about the decline of the US technical workforce in general, and especially in the field of Systems Engineering.1 As projects and products become more complex, the need for Systems Engineering expertise is ever increasing. While statistical evidence quantifying the specific needs for Systems Engineers is lacking, anecdotal stories clearly show that there is such a need. The target audience for this effort is companies and individuals who require better Systems Engineering capabilities, but lack the resources and infrastructure for training. These include second-tier suppliers to the aerospace industry, biomedical engineering companies, IT, utilities, etc.

For working engineers, the path to Systems Engineering education presents some challenges. There are currently seventy-five institutions of higher education in the United States that offer 130 undergraduate and graduate degree programs that incorporate Systems Engineering.2 Many of the Systems Engineering curricula provided by academia require a constrained time commitment, e.g. semesters-long courses taught during working hours, or weeks-long, full-time certificate programs. Additionally, they cover prescribed subjects irrespective of the innate

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