Asee peer logo

Systems Engineering In Undergraduate Education: An Activities , Project , And Problem Based Learning Approach

Download Paper |


2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Design Projects in Mechanical Engineering I

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.1118.1 - 14.1118.14



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Tim Brower Oregon Institute of Technology

Download Paper |

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

Systems Engineering in Undergraduate Education: An Activities, Project, Problem-Based Learning Approach


Systems engineering is an interdisciplinary collaborative process by which a customer’s needs are satisfied through the conceptualization, design, modeling, testing, implementation, verification, and operation of a working system. It provides a focus that enables practicing engineers to integrate their specialties in the development of complex products and processes. Systems engineering concepts are extremely important to industry. As companies or organizations bring new products to market, whether it is a small standalone widget or a large-scale “system of a system,” a systems approach in design is omnipresent throughout a broad cross-section of industries today.

Formally teaching systems engineering to undergraduate students is somewhat controversial. Some educators with an industrial background have suggested that a true systems engineering approach can only come with years of industrial experience. A cursory look around the country indicates that a handful of institutions offer a BS program in systems engineering, many are computer oriented, management slanted or exclusively online programs.

Whether or not there should be an entire undergraduate program devoted to systems engineering can be debated. However, engineering students can be exposed to the concepts of systems engineering in mainstream engineering classes throughout their undergraduate education. This paper describes one approach to introduce the concepts of systems engineering to students in a junior-level fluid mechanics course through the student’s participation in a team-oriented class project. The model used for student learning is an activities, project, and problem-based Learning approach. A survey of student perceptions concerning systems engineering before and after the course is presented.


Systems Engineering Around the Country According to the International Council on Systems Engineering1 there are 69 programs in the United States that offer a mix of bachelors, masters, doctoral level and certificate programs in systems engineering and systems engineering management. A Wikipedia search2 identified an additional 20 programs that had the term systems engineering in the title. A cursory look at these programs indicates that many are online, computer oriented, or with a management slant, i.e., more MBA oriented than technical engineering. It is interesting to note that the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology does not have a curricular discipline in systems engineering.

Using a systems engineering approach in the undergraduate capstone experience as well as in pre-college has been reported. Details of this approach are applied to a BSEE

Brower, T. (2009, June), Systems Engineering In Undergraduate Education: An Activities , Project , And Problem Based Learning Approach Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4651

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: © 2009 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