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March 20, 2009

System engineering/ System thinking – difficult to grasp

Just a short one today (yes I promise :p)

After spending sometime today, and yesterday trying to understand 'system engineering' (SE), I am afraid I have produced little result. Some of the sources I used are

  • System Engineering Management (1991) Benhamin S. Blanchard
  • System Engineering Method (1967) Harold Chestnut
  • System Enginering from Wikipedia

Some initial readings suggests

  1. It's been around for ages
  2. Mirrors the system thinking principles from Peter Senge, but has a more engineering focus
  3. Employs some very similar tools and procedures to DFSS  like QFD, optimisation, simulation 

This kind of makes me wonder how different is system engineering from DFSS. Both appear to address the issue of design in the early stages, but one seem to focus on the product design (DFSS) whereas the other focus on the whole system (SE) the whole company/organisation operates.

Part of my problem in understanding system engineering concept I believe may be my lack of background knowledge /experience in engineering type work. I find it interesting that the subject is not usually taught in undergraduate level (Wikipedia) simply because undergrad students do not have the background knowledge to appreciate the 'power' or 'application' of system engineering. This is precisely my problem as I flick through the pages, many ideas are 'high level' talks about being holistic , interdisciplinary, customer focus etc , complicated by complex process flow charts of how processes in a systems should look like. 

I guess I shouldn't confuse myself with too much details. Perhaps I should think about system thinking from its conceptual viewpoint, compare that to DFSS or concurrent engineering, and see what are the similarities and differences.

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