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Systems Engineering Education in the U.S.: Textbooks and 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

Innovations in the IE Curriculum

Tagged Divisions

Engineering Management, Systems Engineering, Engineering Economy, and Industrial Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1230.1 - 25.1230.12



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Paper Authors


Jane M. Fraser Colorado State University, Pueblo

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Jane M. Fraser is Chair of the Department of Engineering at Colorado State University, Pueblo. She was formerly on the faculty at the Ohio State University and Purdue University. She has a B.A in mathematics from Swarthmore College and a M.S. and a Ph.D. in industrial engineering and operations research from the University of California, Berkeley.

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Abhijit Gosavi Missouri University of Science & Technology

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Systems engineering education in the US: textbooks and programsFraser and Gosavi (2010) examined the nature of “systems engineering” and described six possiblemeanings of the phrase. They also made recommendations concerning what industrial engineeringprograms should teach about systems engineering. This paper expands on their work and provides moreevidence for further conclusions by examining in detail the topics covered in textbooks in systemsengineering and the topics taught in MS in Systems Engineering programs in the US and elsewhere.We will take a fresh look at the textbooks on “systems engineering” and the similarities and differencesin the topics covered in them. Although quite a few textbooks are available in the market, most authorshave their own favorite theme that appears to run through the book. While this is understandable, itmakes it difficult to define the essence of systems engineering. While some textbooks are gearedtowards what constitutes systems thinking, others focus on what systems engineers can do in terms ofoptimizing the system. Also, some of the newly emerging subjects that are taught within the core ofsystems engineering programs appear not to be covered in many textbooks. Examples of such topicsinclude: “model-based systems engineering,” “risk management,” “network management,” and“complex systems.” We will investigate answers in particular to the following questions. How many ofthe books that provide an overview of systems engineering cover these topics? We will also present ananalysis of how these topics are related to the overall philosophy of systems engineering.We will also analyze the content of Master’s degree programs in systems engineering in the US thatoffer degrees in systems engineering, focusing on the nine largest programs, which accounted for 76%of the graduates of such programs in 2008. The programs have much in common, but differ in theirfocus on different industries and on different tools. Some programs seem to have been designed tomeet the needs of specific industries and even of specific companies.These findings will be used to support conclusions about the nature of systems engineering educationand to make recommendations to industrial engineering programs about the appropriate education inthis area for industrial engineering students at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Fraser, J. M., & Gosavi, A. (2012, June), Systems Engineering Education in the U.S.: Textbooks and Programs Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21987

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