Humans are a part of every complex system—even autonomous systems involve people. People set the mission, use the products, and maintain the technology. As such, systems engineering requires an understanding of human capabilities and limitations, both as individuals and as social groups. Methods to integrate humans and technology, and measurement of human integration effectiveness and efficiency of that integration, are critical skills in systems engineering.
Steve Topper has taught students at Johns Hopkins Engineering for Professionals for the past three years. His courses have been taught in the partnership program with industry in Arizona, California, Maryland, and Indiana, and have involved a mix of distance, online, and live learning. He has averaged teaching four courses a year.
Beyond gaining strong technical skills, today's systems engineers need to hone their presentation and communications skills. Without these skills, the best engineering designs are more difficult to implement and understand. Whether speaking to your technically diverse development team, your customer, or to the user—you need to be comfortable in front of the group.
One of the program student learning outcomes in the Systems Engineering program states:
Understand and utilize the life cycle stages of systems development from concept development through manufacturing and operational maintenance….
Student opinions and assessments are vital to keeping our courses and programs of the highest quality. Starting this spring, Johns Hopkins Engineering for Professionals will administer a new course evaluation survey to gather input from students at the conclusion of every course.
While many excellent academic texts on systems engineering are available, a current and practical resource that is very useful for students, researchers, and practitioners exists at the SEBok Wiki.
Systems engineering and program management are both required for successful product development. Management of Systems Projects (645.467) is one of the foundational courses for the Systems Engineering program. You may ask yourself,
Why is a project management course a mandatory course in a systems engineering program? The answer is simple: the success of complex technical projects relies on an integrated approach of project management and systems engineering.
Steve Biemer has been a systems engineering instructor for Johns Hopkins Engineering for Professionals since the program's inception, and has experienced (and in some cases, pioneered) every instructional method offered by the program: online, face-to-face, distance, and partnerships.
Systems engineers need to be good leaders and have good technical skills.