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A Prospectus for the Certification of Systems Engineering Degree Programs

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Research Projects, Course Development, and Industry Issues

Tagged Division

Systems Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.95.1 - 25.95.15

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Paper Authors


Wolter J. Fabrycky PE P.E. Virginia Tech and Academic Applications International Orcid 16x16

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Wolter J. Fabrycky, Lawrence Professor Emeritus of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech and Chairman, Academic Applications International, Inc. Registered Professional Engineer in Arkansas (1960) and Virginia (1965). Ph.D. in Engineering, Oklahoma State University (1962); M.S. in Industrial Engineering, University of Arkansas (1958); B.S. in Industrial Engineering, Wichita State University (1957). Taught at Arkansas (1957-60) and Oklahoma State (1962-65) and then joined Virginia Tech in 1965. Served as Founding Chairman of Systems Engineering, Associate Dean of Engineering, and then as University Dean of Research over a period of 12 years. Received the Lohmann Medal from Oklahoma State for Outstanding Contributions to ISE Education and Research (1992) and the Armitage Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Logistics Engineering Literature (2004). Received the Holtzman Distinguished Educator Award from the Institute of Industrial Engineers (1990) and the Pioneer Award from the International Council on Systems Engineering (2000). Founder (2005) and President of the Omega Alpha Association: the Systems Engineering Honor Society and President of Alpha Pi Mu: the Industrial Engineering Honor Society (2010-12). Elected to the rank of Fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1980), the American Society for Engineering Education (2007), the Institute of Industrial Engineers (1978), and the International Council on Systems Engineering (1999). Served or serving on the Boards of ABET, APM, ASEE, IIE, INCOSE, and OAA. Co-author of six Prentice Hall textbooks and Editor of the Pearson Prentice Hall International Series in Industrial and Systems Engineering.

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A Prospectus for the Certification of Systems Engineering Degree ProgramsThe ASEE Systems Engineering Division (ASEE - SED) and the International Council onSystems Engineering (INCOSE) have an inherent obligation and timely opportunity toinfluence the development and quality of Systems Engineering (SE) degree programs. Thispaper (prospectus) conjectures that it is becoming increasingly important to provideworldwide academic certification of SE programs by participating in and going beyondprogram accreditation as offered through the Accreditation Board for Engineering andTechnology (ABET).It will be demonstrated that SE accreditation by ABET is necessary but not sufficient forfour reasons: 1) Nominally, only undergraduate degree programs are offered by academicinstitutions for ABET accreditation, 2) SE programs are not increasing at the undergraduatelevel, but are expanding rapidly at the graduate level, 3) The influence of ABET is centeredprincipally in the United States, whereas SE is steadily expanding worldwide, and 4) ABETis unlikely to embrace the full academic and professional potential of SE as promulgatedjointly by ASEE - SED and INCOSE.To be credible, initiatives to influence should be based on an understanding of SE degreeprogram characteristics and stakeholder interests. Understanding will be shown to be anessential prerequisite to effectively and professionally influence SE programs in academia.Accordingly this paper will elaborate upon findings within the 2010 ASEE paper entitledSystems Engineering: Its Emerging Academic and Professional Attributes, Proceedings ofthe ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Louisville KY, June, 2010.The classification of SE degree programs, and tailored suggestions for certification, will beproposed for both Systems Centric SE and Domain Centric SE categories. A summary willfollow regarding participation experience with SE accreditation through ABET. Academicprogram certification is then offered as a concept with a companion approach forcollaborating to influence academia beyond the means available through ABET.ABET leaves it to the institution to choose the degree level at which it will seek programaccreditation; that is, to declare whether the first 'professional' degree for entry into theprofession is to be at the basic or the advanced level. This prospectus is predicated on theproposition that SE should be offered as a first professional degree at the graduate level. Itsupports and applies the recommendations found in Educating the Engineer of 2020,National Academy of Engineering, Washington DC, National Academies Press, 2005.The opportunity for ASEE - SED and INCOSE to provide an independent “outside-in”assessment of the scope and quality of academic programs worldwide is an idea whose timehas come. This paper proposes and describes an initiative that should be launched toestablish SE as an international interdiscipline in service to humankind for this 21st century.

Fabrycky, W. J. (2012, June), A Prospectus for the Certification of Systems Engineering Degree Programs Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas.

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