As an interdisciplinary field of engineering, systems engineering deals with the design and management of complex engineering projects throughout the enterprise life cycle. It is similar to other engineering majors like control and industrial engineering, but focuses on applying systems engineering principles, methods, and practices to develop and manage systems that solve engineering problems. These types of systems can be large, like a power plant, or small, such as circuit components. In the field of engineering, it is the one branch that applies to all others, as all engineering subfields use its principles.
Engineering systems majors learn how to analyze complex systems, make decisions in dynamic environments, and design products and processes. Curriculum integrates engineering, science, mathematics, and management courses. Students take a variety of mathematics courses, such as engineering mathematics, matrix algebra, differential equations, calculus, and probability and statistics, as well as science courses like chemistry, physics, and computer science. Engineering courses cover topics directly related to systems like systems science, signals and systems, control systems, systems integration and test, systems analysis methods, systems engineering process, and system evaluation. Students also learn about management and operations through courses in project management, integrated risk management, manufacturing processes and inventory control, and operations research.
As systems engineering is a broad practice that can be applied to various areas, some programs may allow students to choose a concentration. Common areas of focus include control and mechanical systems, electrical and computer engineering systems, software and information systems, chemical and biomedical systems, and infrastructure systems.
Throughout systems engineering programs, students develop systems thinking skills, learn how to work in multi-disciplinary teams, and become complex problem solvers. A broad range of industries seek out those with a knowledge of systems engineering, such as manufacturing and service operations, supply chain, health care, financial services, business, information technology, and more. Possible job titles include systems engineer, supply chain analyst, consultant, logistics specialist, software developer, health care systems analyst, and operations and quality engineer.