Is Systems Engineering a Real Engineering Discipline?

From minivans to jet fighters, system engineering has been used significantly to reshape the world we live in; furthermore, it is also rewriting the definition of various machine components and transforming them to get the most out of manufacturing and design.

Systems engineering is designed to help in building, analyzing as well as managing systems be it mechanical, electrical, biological or one that involves business logistics and processes. In the past, engineering disciplines were defined by physical attributes; for instance, electoral engineers operate with transistors and circuits, aeronautical engineers work with rockets and airplanes.

Systems engineering, on the other hand, transcends the physical nature of what it is managed or designed­ in. When it consists of various interacting components performing a function that a different component can’t achieve, then it becomes a system, and the systems engineers will be able to work in order to understand and then improve it.

Systems engineering is a real engineering discipline. Systems engineers combine knowledge of many engineering concepts to develop plans for delivering quality engineering products in an optimal manner. Many systems engineers are knowledgeable in the fields of math, logistics, and computer science.

In this article, we shall be answering the question: “Is Systems engineering a real engineering discipline?” This will allow you to understand it better.

Is system engineering a real engineering discipline?

Systems engineering is a technique that involves using knowledge from different branches of engineering along with science and introduces technological innovation into the planning as well as development stages of systems.

Despite being referred to as Systems engineering, it is not so much a branch of engineering. This is because it is a technique that is used in applying knowledge from different branches of engineering and science discipline to form an effective combination for solving multifaceted engineering issues.

Systems engineering is related to operation research; however, it differs from it in such a way that it is more of a planning and design function, and it frequently involves technical innovations. The most essential feature of systems engineering is its use in developing some new technological possibilities and, at the same time, having a specific objective of having to put them to use as economic, rapid, and technical consideration permits. Therefore, in this perspective, it might be visualized as a midwife of technological development.

Furthermore, the word Systems is often used in various combinations, mainly when technological elements are not that much essential; for instance, Systems analysis. System science or System theory is often applied to physical dynamic systems analysis. For instance, a complex electrical network with a single or multiple feedback loops whereby the process returns and causes changes in the source of the process.

What does systems engineering focus on?

Systems engineering focuses more on the following;

· Balancing, establishing as well as integrating stakeholder’s goals, success criteria, and purpose. It also defines anticipated or actual customer needs required functionality and operational concept, which starts early in the development cycle.

· It focuses on establishing an appropriate lifecycle model, governance structure, and process approach while considering complexity levels, change, uncertainty, and variety.

· Modeling and defining requirements along with selected solution architecture for each phase of an endeavor.

· Performs design synthesis as well as system verification along with validation.

Systems engineering offers guidance, facilitation as well as leadership in integrating relevant disciplines along with specialty groups into a cohesive effort to form a well-structured development process that proceeds from concept into production, evolution, operation as well as eventual disposal.

Furthermore, systems engineering usually considers business along with technical customer’s needs with the goal of offering a top-notch solution that will meet user’s needs along with other stakeholders. In addition to that, it ensures that the solution fits the intended purposes when it comes to real-world operation, as well as minimizes or avoids unintended adverse consequences.

The primary goal of Systems engineering is managing risk, including the risk of failure to deliver what the consumer requires, risk of excess costs, risk of late delivery as well as the risk of unintended negative consequences. A measure of the utility of System Engineering is considering the degree to which these risks are reduced. On the other hand, the measure of acceptability of the Systems engineering absence is a level of too much risk present in a result.

Working environment of Systems engineers

As a system engineer, you will be able to work in almost any industry. With that said, some of the aspects of Systems engineers’ work environment tend to be consistent, and they include;

· As a system engineer, you will continuously use and rely on technology more often. This includes security systems, specialized software, modeling systems, along with other plant equipment. Furthermore, some equipment used by Systems engineers will require special safety gear.

· As for all technical fields, requirements, products as well as standards tend to evolve constantly. Therefore, System engineers will have to remain current with every new technology and have to update their knowledge every time in order to remain current.

· Usually, systems engineers often work individually or remotely with individuals from various fields, which includes engineers as well as technology experts, financial experts, clients, plant employees as well as public relation personnel.

· System engineers might consider working out of an office or at an office throughout; however, they will be required to inspect server storage areas or manufacturing lines depending on the industry you choose.

· Most system engineers work full time during regular business hours. However, sometimes you might require overtime to meet your deadlines

Some of the areas in which you can work as a system engineer include;

· Education.

· Government.

· Corporations

· Nonprofits

Requirements for Systems engineer

If you want to become a system engineer, there are several requirements you will need to achieve. Some of these requirements include;


Entry-level for systems engineering is a bachelor’s degree. Some of the useful majors include information systems, computer engineering, or industrial engineering. However, some system engineers obtain a degree in the desired field and minor in systems.

For one to become more competitive for a leadership position, you should consider getting a master’s degree. Various universities offer a Master of Science in system engineering. Nonetheless, Doctor of Philosophy in system engineering is considered vital as well for individuals who prefer teaching and research jobs.


You should note that systems engineer’s responsibilities differ significantly depending on your industry. Due to this, so much of the training often starts when you secure a job. Your employer will offer a job training specific systems along with the company’s requirement.

As a system engineer, you will gain experience in an entry-level position in your field. You might work in a support or coordinator position, allowing you to gain relevant experience before applying for a system engineering position. At the entry-level, you will learn more about operations in an industry.

You can as well gain basic training in computer science and engineering while having your education by completing the hands-on project during internships or taking part in a lab. Usually, some master’s degree program requires one to complete an internship. During the internship, you will be able to learn more about the system engineering field you prefer the most. This will also help you connect with professionals who will be willing to help you find a position once you graduate.


As a system engineer, you can gain various certifications that will show your level of expertise in various aspects of your field. Some of these certifications include; Certified Systems Engineering Professional, Associated Systems Engineering Professional, Expert Systems Engineering Professional, Professional Engineer, and Certified Information Systems Security Professional.


As a system engineer, you will require various soft as well as hard skills that will help you perform your job with the utmost professionalism. Some of these vital skills include; analytical thinking, technical skills, communication, time management, and teamwork.

Becoming a systems engineer

If you need to become a system engineer, you will need to have these vital requirements;

·         Pursue education. As previously stated, a bachelor’s degree is the minimum entry-requirement for systems engineers. Both master’s degrees and doctorates are also valuable when seeking a managerial, advanced, or research position. While pursuing your program, you should consider finishing at least a single internship in order to get some experience.

·         Work experience. When applying for systems engineering, there are posts that require experience. Therefore, you should consider getting work experience during your entry-level position as a system engineer or anything with a similar role.

·         Certification. This will highly depend on your preferred field of work. Therefore, you should consider earning various certifications to expand your job opportunity and increase your earnings. In case you are planning on working with the public, you will probably need to get a PE. Furthermore, you should renew your license or certification as per the issuing institution.

Final verdict

Despite being referred to as systems engineering, it is not considered a real engineering discipline. However, systems engineering is highly essential in today’s society, and you should consider pursuing it if you want to expand your field of engineering. As we conclude, we hope that you have found this article beneficial and that we have answered the question; is systems engineering a real engineering discipline?

Gene Botkin

Gene is a graduate student in cybersecurity and AI at the Missouri University of Science and Technology. Ongoing philosophy and theology student.

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