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A better world through a systems approach

The System Engineering perspective is based on systems thinking. Systems thinking is a unique perspective on reality—a perspective that sharpens our awareness of wholes and how the parts within those wholes interrelate. When a system is considered as a combination of system elements, systems thinking acknowledges the primacy of the whole (system) and the primacy of the relation of the interrelationships of the system elements to the whole. Systems thinking occurs through discovery, learning, diagnosis, and dialog that lead to sensing, modeling, and talking about the real-world to better understand, define, and work with systems. A systems thinker knows how systems fit into the larger context of day-to-day life, how they behave, and how to manage them.

Systems Engineering is a transdisciplinary and integrative approach to enable the successful realization, use, and retirement of engineered systems, using systems principles and concepts, and scientific, technological, and management methods.

We use the terms “engineering” and “engineered” in their widest sense: “the action of working artfully to bring something about”. “Engineered systems” may be composed of any or all of people, products, services, information, processes, and natural elements. 

Engineered System Definition

An engineered system is a system designed or adapted to interact with an anticipated operational environment to achieve one or more intended purposes while complying with applicable constraints.

Thus, an “engineered system” is a system – not necessarily a technological one – which has been or will be “systems engineered” for a purpose.  

Most General “System” Definition

system is an arrangement of parts or elements that together exhibit behaviour or meaning that the individual constituents do not.

Systems can be either physical or conceptual, or a combination of both.

Systems in the physical universe are composed of matter and energy, may embody information encoded in matter-energy carriers, and exhibit observable behaviour.

Conceptual systems are abstract systems of pure information, and do not directly exhibit behaviour, but exhibit “meaning”. In both cases, the system’s properties (as a whole) result, or emerge from:

  • the parts or elements and their individual properties; AND
  • the relationships and interactions between and among the parts, the system and its environment.

Definitions of the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) 2019