How do we fix System Engineering?

The Dean's Seminar Series is a bi-annual event occurring during the Spring and Fall of each academic year. Each year the Dean of the School of Systems and Enterprises selects two distinguished guests from industry, government, and academia, to discuss important issues and topics as they relate to systems and enterprises, and technical leadership.

The Dean's Seminar Series presents Michael Griffin, Eminent Scholar and Professor, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, University of Alabama in Huntsville on Monday, December 13, 2010 at 12:00 Noon in Babbio 122.

ABSTRACT | The now half-century-old multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary discipline that we call "system engineering" is the classic half-empty, half-full glass; optimists and pessimists can look at the same thing and draw opposing conclusions. Optimistically, the maturing of system engineering into a recognized discipline from its roots in large aerospace and defense programs has been, and will remain, an enabling factor in the ability of societies to deal with the macroscale problems facing us in energy, environment, and other key areas. Pessimistically, system engineers have some explaining to do. How is it that we continue to encounter failure of important and complex systems where everything thought to be necessary in the way of process control was done, and yet despite these efforts the system failed? Each time this occurs, we as an engineering community vow to redouble our efforts to control the engineering process, and yet such events continue to occur. The answer cannot lie in continuing to do more of the same thing while expecting a different outcome. We need to rise above process, to examine the technical, cultural, and political mix that is "system engineering", and to examine the education and training we are providing to those who would practice this discipline. This paper will discuss that training from a new perspective, the perspective of design elegance, how we identify it, and how we can design with elegance as a value.

BIO | Michael Griffin is the King-McDonald Eminent Scholar and Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and the Director of the Center for System Studies at The University of Alabama in Huntsville. From 2005-09 he was the Administrator of NASA. Prior to re-joining NASA he was Space Department Head at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. He has also held numerous executive positions with industry, including President and Chief Operating Officer of In-Q-Tel, Chief Executive Officer of Magellan Systems, General Manager of Orbital Science Corporation’s Space Systems Group, and Executive Vice President and Chief Technical Officer at Orbital.

The Dean's Seminar Series is held in the Babbio Center, Room 122, and is open to all Stevens' students, faculty, staff and invited guests.

Download Seminar Flyer (PDF)

For more information, please contact:

Anide Jean
Associate Director, Outreach & Communications
Babbio Center 417
Phone: 201-216-8546
Fax: 201-216-5385