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Careers in Systems Engineering
What Do Systems Engineers Do?
Systems engineering is concerned with the overall process of defining, developing, operating, maintaining, and ultimately replacing quality systems. Where other engineering disciplines concentrate on the details of individual aspects of a system (electronics, mechanics, ergonometrics, aerodynamics, software, etc.), systems engineering is concerned with the integration of all of these aspects into a coherent and effective system. Systems engineers concentrate their efforts on the aspects of the engineering process (requirements definition, top-level functional designs, project management, life cycle cost analysis,...) that serve to organize and coordinate other engineering activities. The systems engineer is the primary interface between management, customers, suppliers, and specialty engineers in the systems development process.
(Text and graphic © 1997 George Mason University. Used with permission.)
Thinking about a Career in Systems Engineering?

George Mason University 's website offers two stories to explain the world of systems thinking and systems engineering:

SE Career Profiles
For some interesting information and profiles of systems engineers, visit Graduating Engineers Online
Sample Projects performed by Systems Engineers
  • Representing a company in the design and construction of the next generation commercial aircraft
  • Designing the network services needed for a cellular communications system
  • Developing a communications satellite
  • Developing and launching NASA's Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter (JIMO)
  • Working on a design project to make a medical device for heart defibrillation
  • Designing the electromagnetic launch system for a nuclear powered aircraft carrier
  • Developing the architecture for the US Army's Future Combat System consisting of trucks, tanks, aircraft, unmanned aerial and ground vehicles, associated communication systems, and soldiers
  • Performing simulation of a proposed operational concept for a new product
  • Representing systems engineering issues on an integrated product team
  • Performing research on the next generation systems engineering software tool
  • Teaching systems engineering courses
Skills and Qualities Needed by Systems Engineers
  • Good math skills
  • Strong time management skills
  • Aptitude for systems thinking
  • Good common sense
  • A strong desire for organization and efficiency
  • Excellent communication/salesmanship
  • Creative problem solving
  • Quantitative skills
  • Technical competency
  • Continuous drive for improvement
  • Resourcefulness
  • Listening skills
  • Negotiation skills
  • Diplomacy
  • Patience
  • Ability to adapt to many environments, wear many hats and interact with a diverse group of individuals
  • Inquisitive mind
  • Continuous desire to learn
  • Leadership skills
  • Ethics

Twelve Systems Engineering Roles: © 1996 Software Productivity Consortium NRP, Inc. Used with permission.

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Content Owner: Education & Research Technical Committee | Last Updated: 10 Nov 2004
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