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Systems Engineering At The Naval Academy

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Innovations in Systems Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.1147.1 - 9.1147.7

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Paper Authors

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Terry Dwan

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Robert DeMoyer

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Carl Wick

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George Piper

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

Systems Engineering at the Naval Academy T. E. Dwan, R. DeMoyer, C. E. Wick, and G. E. Piper Department of Weapons and Systems Engineering United States Naval Academy


This paper describes the current curriculum of the Systems Engineering Department at the U. S. Naval Academy in detail. We show how our program not only serves the needs of each military graduate and meets the objectives and requirements of an ABET accredited program, but also why this curriculum has become one of the most popular and successful undergraduate programs at the U. S. Naval Academy.


The Weapons and Systems Engineering Department at the U. S. Naval Academy has a long history. It has existed, in various forms and with various names, since the founding of the Naval Academy in 1845. In the early years the Department provided instruction about specific weapons and their underlying principles. As weapons grew in complexity they evolved into weapon systems. While early weapon systems were primarily electro-mechanical in nature, more recent weapon systems frequently also include aspects of computers, control, communication, and robotics.

Several years ago retired Air Force Brigadier General Charles E. "Chuck" Yeager addressed the Naval Academy midshipmen. Among other things, he told them to “Know your systems.” It was his clear message that as the American armed services become increasingly technological, officers must have a thorough knowledge of how their weapons function as a system in order to take full advantage of them. It is for this reason that the primary emphasis of the Systems Engineering major at the Naval Academy has remained oriented more towards the engineering of control systems, like those commonly in modern weaponry.

The present curriculum of the Systems Engineering major contains six required courses, covering fundamentals in mathematical modeling, simulation, and control. Each major takes five additional elective courses. These are organized as two two-course elective sequences in an area of specialization and a fifth major elective that may be taken in any engineering-related course. Two-course elective tracks currently produced within the Weapons and Systems Engineering Department includes automatic control, computers, communication, robotics, and environmental systems. These areas are in contrast to the more traditional Systems Engineering topics such as optimization, economics, behavioral science, and decision-making. USNA Systems Engineering majors must also complete a significant capstone design project during their senior year. Our senior students choose their own topic for this project and produce a complete design document during the fall semester. They then build, test, and present their project during

Dwan, T., & DeMoyer, R., & Wick, C., & Piper, G. (2004, June), Systems Engineering At The Naval Academy Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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