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Systems Engineering

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Systems engineering is an interdisciplinary field that integrates many different engineering specialties into a total engineering effort to ensure an efficient and effective product (system) output. Systems engineering analyzes the operational needs of industrial, business and government enterprises and by applying scientific and engineering technology develops the integrated hardware and software required to meet those needs.

A major feature of systems engineering is its concern for the complete life cycle of the system, from planning, design, development, testing and production to operations, sustaining maintenance and support, and system retirement. Within this broad spectrum, many different categories of systems are in use today, and the complexities of design, production, operations and support vary significantly. A systems engineer is one who can apply the team approach to the process of bringing systems into being and can define their various components, identify and integrate the engineering disciplines needed to develop them and understand the system's operational and maintenance requirements for the entire customer-use period.

Based on over 40 years of experience, Virginia Tech continues the tradition of bringing systems engineering and systems thinking to practicing professionals in distributed learning environments. Virginia Tech offers a flexible graduate engineering program to enhance the student’s personal/professional development and contributions to the workplace. Some students pursue this degree as a full-time student while many in our program have a full-time job and are taking one, two, or three courses in a semester. For full time students it is possible to finish the degree in three semesters. Typically, part-time students take one or two courses per semester and no courses in the summer and finish in three or four years.

The Systems Engineering graduate program leads to a Master of Science degree. It is designed to enable engineering practitioners in specialized fields (e.g., aeronautical, ocean, civil, electrical, mechanical and industrial engineering) to develop an interdisciplinary approach to the practice of professional engineering. It is presumed that a student entering the program already has a solid foundation in some specialized field of engineering (or the equivalent) and wishes to broaden his or her technical knowledge base.  In addition to core systems engineering and discipline-centric engineering courses the program includes a capstone course requiring the completion of an approved systems engineering project that demonstrates the student’s understanding of technology integration, life-cycle design, and collaborative engineering considerations. The objectives of the required capstone experience are to instruct and coach the systems engineering approach as applied in the design and ongoing improvement of any system, enterprise, process or enabling technology.

The program objective is to present a broad interdisciplinary perspective of systems and the numerous considerations necessary in the engineering development of systems. Program requirements include the successful completion of a minimum of 10 courses (30 semester hours) with a B average or better.  Upon completion of ten courses with a B average or better, including a capstone project course, the student receives a master’s degree in systems engineering.

Core Courses

• ISE 5814 System Dynamics Modeling of Socio-technical Systems
• ISE 5804 Fundamentals of Systems Engineering
• ISE 5834 Decision Analysis for Engineers.
• ISE 5434 Economic Project Evaluation
• ENGE 5304* Graduate Student Success in Multicultural Environments
*courses do not count towards required course credits for degree

Specialization Track (4 electives to be chosen by the student)

Technical Leadership Track

  • ISE 5144 Efficiency and Productivity or ISE 5016 Management of Change, Innovation & Performance in Organizational Systems II
  • Two of the following: ISE 58xx Multi-stakeholder Decision Making, ISE 5015 Management of Change, Innovation & Performance in Organizational Systems I, MGT 5604 Teambuilding, or MGT 5314 Dynamics of Organizational Behavior
  • MGT 5424 Business Negotiation: Strategies, Tactics, and Skills

Mission Engineering and Systems Architecture Track

  • ISE 58xx Multi-stakeholder Decision Making
  • ISE 5864 Problem Formulation and Decomposition
  • ISE 5854 Mission Engineering I
  • ISE 58xx Mission Engineering II

Elective Course

A free elective, only restricted by graduate school policy, if any is applicable.

Capstone Course

ENGR 5024 Systems Engineering Projects

System-level Modeling Requirement

At least one of the courses taken in the program must significantly address modeling at the system level. This could be satisfied by taking the ISE 5814 System Dynamics Modeling in
Socio-technical Systems course or it can be satisfied with any other modeling course taken as part of a specialization track or other electives. A student can propose a course to their
graduate advisory committee that addresses modeling at the system level.

An advisory committee is required and the committee will grant final approval of the course work by signing the plan of study form. The plan of study must be completed and approved prior to the completion of 12 hours of course work.

To receive the degree all students must:

  • have an approved plan of study
  • be registered in the semester they wish the university to confer their degree
  • submit an on-line “final exam” request to the Graduate School. This “final exam” request is used by the advisory committee and extended-campus advisor to verify that the student has completed all degree requirements including the capstone course presentation.

Once the final grades for the final semester have been posted the degree will be awarded.

Extended Campus Academic Advisor

For admissions information or academic advising, contact Graduate Program Academic Advisor, Hannah Parks.

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