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Improving Engineer’s Management of Complex Systems

Experienced engineers are often pulled into management before they’re ready. An on-line university course at PSU will help ensure a successful transition.

By John Blyler, Affiliate Professor, PSU

How will you be investing the next 10 weeks? Why not join me in an exploration of how to manage the technical aspects of very complex systems? The best part is that this learning experience will take place completely online – as has been the case for the last 10 years. For more information about the course, visit the Portland State University link or contact me with specific questions. Feel free to ping me with questions. Cheers — JB


SYSE 567 – Systems Engineering Management

Course Description:

Blanchard_SEM_cropThis course provides comprehensive knowledge and real-world case studies in the critical domains of project management (for cost and schedule) and system engineering management (for technical evaluation and implementation). In addition, we will focus on the interrelationships between these two domains by explicitly considering integrative management as an emerging approach. Students will gain detailed knowledge in management techniques applicable to activities within Systems Engineering, including evaluating new technologies and integrating with legacy systems, technical performance measures (TPM), process tailoring, SEMP/SEWP planning, effect of software engineering, maturity assessment models like CMMI, conducting technical reviews and audits, and more. Several case studies from a wide range of projects will be presented to illustrate key concepts and management techniques with the goal of demonstrating how projects can succeed with the proper implementation of systems engineering management.

The audience for this course is chief systems engineers, system architects, technical project/program managers in projects involving hardware, software, electronic, mechanical and manufacturing engineers. This course can be taken as part of the master’s degree, certification program or for continuing education.

Course Goals and Objectives

    1. Introduction to systems engineering, including categories, life cycles, and related terms and definitions.
    2. Learn the problems in managing engineering projects, organizational factors, project management essentials and the interaction between systems engineers and project-program managers.
    3. Understand systems engineering program planning, including early planning, SEMP and the basics of schedule, cost and situation analysis.
    4. Learn how to integrate other plans into the SEMP, include design specialty, risk and other program activities.
    5. Understand how systems engineering fits into and is affected by the organization.
    6. Introduction to the principals of system architecting and there interaction with PM, including trade-off, modeling and other processes-tools.
    7. Software engineering’s metrics input to systems engineering management, plus the evaluation and benchmarking of SE.
    8. Addition management and metrics trends in SW and SE.
    9. Learn the integrative management of technical people, processes and tools to maximize efficiency and effectiveness.
    1. Reading and completing weekly assessments by the assigned date
    2. Posting assignment results on, or before, the assigned date
    3. Successful completion of Mid-Term and Final Examinations
    4. Active participation in online discussions in the forums and weekly goals assessment

Week Topics and General Reading [Specifics will be given each week]

    • Week 1
      • Blanchard Ch 1: Intro to Systems Engineering Systems. (This chapters ends with a brief section on systems engineering management, which serves as a good lead into the differences between SEM and program/project management in the next week.)
      • Course Notes – Systems, Projects and Management (Brief introduction into differences between SE management and PM.)
    • Week 2
      • Blanchard Ch 2: Systems Engineering Process
    • Week 3
      • Blanchard Ch 3: Systems Design Requirements
    • Week 4
      • Blanchard Ch 4: Engineering Design Methods and Tools
      • Blanchard Ch 5: Design Review and Evaluation
    • Week 5
      • Blanchard Ch 6: (up to section 6.3) – Systems Engineering Program Planning
      • Course notes– Schedule, Cost, and Situational Analysis (e.g., EVP.)
    • Week 6
      • Blanchard Ch 6: (Section 6.3 to 6.9) – Systems Engineering Program Planning
    • Week 7
      • Blanchard Ch 7: Organization for Systems Engineering (This covers common approaches (e.g., Theory X, Y and Z)
      • Course Notes: Team building.
    • Week 8
      • Course Notes: Software Engineering (Notes will finish with SW metrics, a good lead into Blanchard, Ch 8, which cover system engineering management metrics.)
      • Blanchard Ch 8: Systems Engineering Program Evaluation
    • Week 9
      • Course Notes: Integrative Management and Future Trends
    • Week 10
      • Project completion and final.

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