Everyone should study Systems Engineering

It's not just for engineers.

I’ve been bouncing drafts of this email around for about a month. At first, I was going to make it a post on Medium, but I’m getting kind of tired of that platform. Not bailing on it, just using it like the tool that it is.

Systems Engineering

I’m a computer programmer. Got into the field way back when the Motorolla 68000 chip was a badass (Lisa, Mac, Amiga, Atari, etc.) Yeah, it’s been a while.

After spending most of my career in the commercial industry working on basically the same type of billing and HR systems, I got a chance to go to work for Lockheed Martin. It was a big deal.

I have a BS and MS in Information Systems, and they wanted me to enroll in a Master of Engineering in Systems Engineering program at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ. What an opportunity.

I had only heard of Systems Engineering in the context of the Microsoft certification, it’s not the same thing. One is focused on the creation, maintenance, and disposal of complex systems, the other is focused on stringing together hardware and software into IT systems. Similar but different.

So for the next few years, I immersed myself in the program while also working full time. Wasn’t as bad as it sounds because everything I was learning in school was directly applicable to work.

I initially approached everything as an IT/Software Engineering problem but eventually opened my brain up to where I started seeing everything as a system.

Everything Is A System

I’ve long since moved on from Lockheed Martin to focus on other interests. But what I learned in the MEng program has helped me with everything I’ve worked on since.

It has also forced me to look at things differently.

It has helped me in business, and not only in technical business, but everything from affiliate marketing to info product development.

Does the following look familiar?

  • Identify problems (needs/capability gaps/deficiencies)

  • Think about ways to solve the problem (requirements)

  • Look for existing products that solve the problem. If none are available, think about what can be built to solve the problem. (requirements allocation)

  • Select, or create, solutions. (buy/build)

  • Deliver to your customers and provide ongoing support. (sustainment/maintenance)

If you are in any sort of business it must look a little familiar. Right?

Now, think about documenting your processes so they are repeatable. Then refining them as you identify efficiencies.

You’re doing Systems Engineering and probably don’t even know it, so pat yourself on the back. You’re a big deal.

Interested In Learning More?

If you’d like to learn more about Systems Engineering you can check out this class on Coursera for free. Watch what you want, ignore what doesn’t seem interesting. But I’d encourage you to learn a little about it.

I’m not suggesting that you spend $100k on a degree, all I want you to do is boost your awareness.

If you want to know more, reach out. I’m real and respond to my emails.

Have a great week.

Travis