INCOSE celebrates 15 years as the authoritative body on Systems Engineering. Fifteen years ago, 65 of the top American systems engineers formed a national council on systems engineering and selected a logo that represented the core activity of process modelling. Since then, the organization has matured and expanded internationally to encompass over 6500 practitioners. This growth has been accompanied by increasing awareness of systems engineering as a critical discipline in the creation of complex systems. The new logo reflects the global composition of the organization, with 52 chapters worldwide. The polar swirl suggests the creativity so necessary alongside systems engineering activities.
“INCOSE is poised to continue its mission to disseminate systems engineering knowledge and to improve the professional status of all persons engaged in the practice of systems engineering,” says Heinz Stoewer, President of the council.
Members of INCOSE hail from industries in which complex systems are the mainstay – such as airplane and automobile manufacturing. Increasingly members are joining from other sectors such as transportation, information technologies and telecommunications, energy and infrastructure, to name a few. Government and academic members work with volunteers from industry in the creation of technical products aimed at the establishment of professional standards, guidelines and handbooks for the practice of systems engineering. This year, the theme of our 15th Annual International Symposium celebrated this triad of collaboration between Industry, Government and Academia, in Rochester, New York.
The new logo was unveiled during the closing plenary of the symposium. One member remarked that the logo looks like a head, a suitable reminder for all systems engineers that thinking has to precede action. Michael Rebuffet, President of the French affiliate commented, “From my point of view, this new logo with a schematic earth is a good metaphor for an international council.”
This facelift follows the recently announced certification program that has been opened to members and systems engineers around the world this March. The certification, based on experience and a qualifying test, is just one of many initiatives that are kicking off this year.
Symposium keynote speakers have highlighted the range of applications and the similarities in the challenges offered by complex systems. Riley Duren of Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California impressed the audience with recent footage of the Deep Impact mission, which he described as “studying comets with Extreme Prejudice.” He stressed that Systems Engineering is a way of thinking about and solving challenges. Duren sees Systems Engineers as the GLUE that holds the elements of complex space programs together.
From Deep Space to Deep Sea, Hans Joergen Lindland, Managing Director of FMC Production Services A/S in Kongsberg, Norway, defined the challenges of installing oil extraction equipment on the sea floor. The uncertainty, the risks and the challenges of finding and using new science are present in both domains. Both environments offer small windows of opportunity in which humans can react to errors or emergencies. Working in the oceans of the world, there is zero tolerance for leakages or unsafe conditions.
Both speakers describe the next projects as exercises in distances – going farther into space or farther from the beach and deeper under the surface of the ocean. Both speakers see an increased need for systems engineers and believe there are not enough systems engineers to meet the needs of the future. Developing talented systems engineers will be to future success.
Anthony M. Federico, Vice President of platform development for Xerox agrees. Looking at complexity in both technology and organizational domains, he remarked, “Systems Engineering is the only thing that can turn complexity from a liability to a competitive advantage.”
The International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) is an international professional society for systems engineers. INCOSE (www.incose.org) was founded in 1990 to develop, and disseminate the interdisciplinary principles and practices that enable the realization of successful systems. Today there are over 5,000 members, 50 chartered chapters, and more than 50 Corporate Advisory Board organizations from government, industry, and academia worldwide.