Systems Engineering (SE) is an engineering discipline that aims to ensure real-world objectives are always achieved and we do it in a way that represents value for money in any complex development we start. That usually means (a) Architect balanced solutions that satisfy diverse stakeholder needs, (b) All dependability, sustainability, social acceptability and ease of use requirements are met, (c) All developed systems (products or services) adapt to evolving technology and requirements, and (d) Complexity and risk are managed effectively.
Open research areas in systems engineering are (i) The theoretical foundations of Systems Engineering, (ii) Effectiveness in socio-technical systems, (iii) Adaptable processes in the time and practice dimensions, (iv) Modelling for Systems Engineering, (v) Supply optimization
In today’s real world, complexity hinders our ability to discover the delayed and distal impacts of interventions, generating what we call unintended side effects. Yet, learning often fails even when strong evidence is available: common mental models lead to erroneous but self-confirming inferences, allowing harmful beliefs and behaviours to persist and undermining implementation of beneficial policies.
Systems Thinking can help expand the boundaries of our mental models, enhance our ability to generate and learn from evidence, and catalyse effective change in public policy creation and implementation, in government and all industrial enterprise, in general. SE can be seen as the application of systems thinking to all the engineering activities in an organisation. In SE, the system’s emergent properties are fully considered as well as contexts, stakeholders, interdependence, hierarchies, architecture, lifecycles, supplier management operations and end-of-life activities. A system of interest can be a product or a service, always with a human element involved.
The practice of SE will further evolve to support the demands of ever-increasing system complexity and enterprise competitiveness. In the near future, SE will leverage the digital transformation in its tools and methods, and will be largely model-based using integrated descriptive and analytical digital representations of the systems. Systems design, analysis, and simulation models, immersive technologies, and an analytic framework will enable broad trade-space exploration, rapid design evolution, and provide a shared understanding of the system throughout its lifecycle. These practices include reference architectures and adaptable design, product-line engineering, and patterns. Human-centred design, using models of the systems and users, will enable more seamless user-system interactions for the demands of today’s complex needs.