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Integrating Systems Thinking in Interdisciplinary Education Programs: A Systems Integration Approach

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Systems Engineering Division Technical Session 4 – Systems Thinking Integration and Systems Engineering Skills Evaluation

Tagged Division

Systems Engineering

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Paper Authors


Adedeji B. Badiru P.E. Air Force Institute of Technology

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Prof. Badiru is Dean and senior academic officer for the Graduate School of Engineering and Management at the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT). He has oversight for planning, directing, and controlling operations related to granting doctoral and master’s degrees, professional continuing cyber education, and research and development programs. He was previously Professor and Head of Systems Engineering and Management at the AFIT, Professor and Department Head of Industrial & Information Engineering at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and Professor of Industrial Engineering and Dean of University College at the University of Oklahoma, Norman. He is a registered professional engineer (PE), a certified Project Management Professional (PMP), a Fellow of the Institute of Industrial Engineers, and a Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Engineering. His areas of interest include mathematical modeling, project modeling and analysis, economic analysis, systems engineering, and efficiency/productivity analysis & improvement.

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LeeAnn Racz US Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine

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LeeAnn Racz is a bioenvironmental engineer in the US Air Force having served at bases across the globe. Previous assignments have also included assistant professor of environmental engineering and director of the Graduate Environmental Engineering and Science Program in Systems & Engineering Management at the Air Force Institute of Technology. She is a licensed professional engineer, certified industrial hygienist, and board certified environmental engineer. She holds a BS in environmental engineering from California Polytechnic State University (San Luis Obispo), an MS in biological and agricultural engineering from the University of Idaho, and a PhD in civil and environmental engineering from the University of Utah. She has authored dozens of refereed journal articles, conference proceedings, magazine articles, presentations, and two handbooks. She has also received numerous prestigious teaching and research awards.

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The fast evolution of interdisciplinary programs in educational alliances calls for new approaches in integrating specific learning outcomes across differing education platforms. Where interdisciplinary education programs seem to make sense, sometimes, turn out to be discordant in implementation. The desire to have integrated workforce development for the Air Force makes it imperative to use new approaches for assessing how interdisciplinary programs can fit together, coexist, and be mutually beneficial. In this paper, we present a systems engineering approach for integrating educational elements from different academic programs to achieve a cohesive interdisciplinary program. This paper presents systems engineering models as a proven methodology to adopt for ensuring the success of interdisciplinary programs through a systems thinking approach. In addition to conventional models of systems engineering, the paper also introduces the DEJI model for education systems design, evaluation, justification, and integration. The paper also presents a discussion of how the US Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine (USAFSAM) ensures operational policy/practice and education/training are unified. This facilitates operating in more precise, innovative, collaborative, and systems-based ways.

The U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine is an educational center focused on aerospace medical learning, consultation, aerospace medical investigations and aircrew health assessments. The center promotes readiness and protect force and community health by using a range of tools and expertise including environmental and health surveillance, laboratory and risk analysis, process re-engineering, consultation and technological innovation to maximize operational health capabilities and to solve problems through ingenuity and partnerships. The Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) is the Air Force graduate school of engineering and management. AFIT is a military organization with an education mission. AFIT provides advanced education to the Air Force and other military and government organizations. The faculty is composed of military and civilian educators. The military faculty rotates on average every three years from their faculty positions into other Air Force assignments. This potentially disruptive assignment rotation must be managed carefully from a systems perspective, particularly where interdisciplinary alliances are desired. The theme of this paper is to present a systems engineering model to address this divergent educational setup.

Badiru, A. B., & Racz, L. (2018, June), Integrating Systems Thinking in Interdisciplinary Education Programs: A Systems Integration Approach Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30690

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