Asee peer logo

Collective System Design In Systems Engineering Education

Download Paper |


2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

A Systems Thinking Approach to Solving Problems

Tagged Division

Systems Engineering Constituent Committee

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.287.1 - 15.287.12



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

David Cochran Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Collective System Design in Systems Engineering Education

David S. Cochran Yong Suk Kim


Collective System Design combines the academic disciplines of social science, organizational learning, Industrial and Systems Engineering to support the design and implementation of sustainable systems. Collective System Design is an integrative course for the Systems Engineering Curriculum at Southern Methodist University. Students apply the Collective System Design methodology to design a sustainable lean manufacturing system as part of an in- class physical system design and simulation workshop. The students then apply Collective System Design within their own work environments. The result of the new system design is to identify both hard savings and soft savings that show up on the bottom line for their company. Collective System Design uses a logic framework that defines the Functional Requirements that a system must effectively meet to satisfy internal and external customer needs.

The first challenge is listening to and understanding customer needs. Functional Requirement(s) formally state the need(s) of the customer as the condition(s) of system success. In the spirit of the Toyota Production System DNA 1 , the students learn to define Physical Solutions to achieve the Functional Requirements of success for the system in which they work. Each Physical Solution is stressed and treated as a hypothesis to achieving each system Functional Requirement. 2

The students learn that to reduce cost the system design itself must first be put in place. The underlying hypothesis is that sustainable and profitable enterprises must meet customer needs. They also learn the importance of performing Kaizen and Continuous Improvement actions once the new system design is put in place to further reduce cost by eliminating the waste that exists in the newly launched standard work practices.

Collective System Design acknowledges four elements: tone, logic, enterprise structure, and standard work action. The approach proposes that these elements are required for human beings to design successful and sustainable systems and that these elements must be designed and implemented as a whole. The rationale is that these elements form the architecture of the DNA of successful and sustainable human enterprises/systems.

1 Bowen and Spear, The DNA of the Toyota Production System, HBR, 1999; 2 Alan Ward, Lean Product and Process Development; Development-Allen/dp/1934109134)


Cochran, D. (2010, June), Collective System Design In Systems Engineering Education Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--17009

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2010 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015