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Systems Engineering Education and the Role of Analytics, Modeling, and Simulation

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Developing Systems Engineering Curriculum and Programs

Tagged Division

Systems Engineering

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Paper Authors


Bruce Harmon Colorado Technical University

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Dr. Harmon received his PhD in Electrical Engineering from the University of Colorado and served as R&D engineer, scientist, project manager, section manager, director, and executive at Hewlett Packard and elsewhere before joining academia at the Air Force Academy and then Colorado Tech, where he now serves as Dean, College of Engineering.

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John M Santiago Jr Colorado Technical University

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Professor John Santiago has been a technical engineer, manager, and executive with more than 26 years of leadership positions in technical program management, acquisition development and operation research support while in the United States Air Force. He currently has over 15 years of teaching experience at the university level and taught over 40 different courses in electrical engineering, systems engineering, physics and mathematics. He has over 30 published papers and/or technical presentations while spearheading over 40 international scientific and engineering conferences/workshops as a steering committee member while assigned in Europe. Professor Santiago has experience in many engineering disciplines and missions including: control and modeling of large flexible space structures, communications system, electro-optics, high-energy lasers, missile seekers/sensors for precision guided munitions, image processing/recognition, information technologies, space, air and missile warning, missile defense, and homeland defense.

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Colorado Technical University has offered an MS in Systems Engineering since 2003. The curriculum was inspired by Boeing, IEEE, INCOSE, the military academies, and commercial best practices from industry. Central to its value proposition is analysis, modeling, and simulation using advanced mathematics. Herein we survey the use of such techniques in this degree program and reveal the rationale for each major topic. We reveal the text books and software used by faculty and students. We provide examples of problems and solutions in use. We expose the lessons learned and improvements made to this curriculum since its introduction. Then we present modifications to curriculum since the 2012 publications of the Systems Engineering Book of Knowledge (SEBoK) and the Graduate Reference Curriculum for Systems Engineering (GRCSE).

Entry into the MSSE requires a BS in an engineering discipline such as electrical, mechanical, aerospace, or optical engineering. For students with such preparation, the mathematical background may be assumed. However, we have found that a math refresher that also provides modeling and simulation with Matlab makes a clear improvement in retention and student learning. We provide examples.

In addition, decision making in the presence of risk is of increasing importance. Bayesian techniques are rarely part of the undergraduate experience, and we have found that the modern instantiation of the discipline should include that topic. We provide examples and rationale.

Finally, the emergence of Big Data analytics has been a remarkable development over the last five years and worthy of consideration in many engineering disciplines, especially systems engineering. We explain its inclusion in the computer science degree programs and reveal plans for it in the engineering curriculum.

Harmon, B., & Santiago, J. M. (2016, June), Systems Engineering Education and the Role of Analytics, Modeling, and Simulation Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26004

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