Engineering is the creative application of science, mathematical methods, and empirical evidence to the innovation, design, construction, operation and maintenance of structures, machines, materials, devices, systems, processes, and organizations. The discipline of engineering encompasses a broad range of more specialized fields of engineering, each with a more specific emphasis on particular areas of applied mathematics, applied science, and types of application. See glossary of engineering.
Systems engineering is an interdisciplinary field of engineering and engineering management that focuses on how to design and manage complex systems over their life cycles. At its core, systems engineering utilizes systems thinking principles to organize this body of knowledge. Issues such as requirements engineering, reliability, logistics, coordination of different teams, testing and evaluation, maintainability and many other disciplines necessary for successful system development, design, implementation, and ultimate decommission become more difficult when dealing with large or complex projects. Systems engineering deals with work-processes, optimization methods, and risk management tools in such projects. It overlaps technical and human-centered disciplines such as industrial engineering, mechanical engineering, manufacturing engineering, control engineering, software engineering, electrical engineering, cybernetics, organizational studies and project management. Systems engineering ensures that all likely aspects of a project or system are considered, and integrated into a whole.
Engineering is the art of directing the great sources of power in nature for the use and convenience of man.
Thomas Tredgold (1828), used in the Royal Charter of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) published in: The Times, London, article CS102127326, 30 June 1828.
A key characteristic of the engineering culture is that the individual engineer’s commitment is to technical challenge rather than to a given company. There is no intrinsic loyalty to an employer as such. An employer is good only for providing the sandbox in which to play. If there is no challenge or if resources fail to be provided, the engineer will seek employment elsewhere. In the engineering culture, people, organization, and bureaucracy are constraints to be overcome. In the ideal organization everything is automated so that people cannot screw it up. There is a joke that says it all. A plant is being managed by one man and one dog. It is the job of the man to feed the dog, and it is the job of the dog to keep the man from touching the equipment. Or, as two Boeing engineers were overheard to say during a landing at Seattle, “What a waste it is to have those people in the cockpit when the plane could land itself perfectly well.” Just as there is no loyalty to an employer, there is no loyalty to the customer. As we will see later, if trade-offs had to be made between building the next generation of “fun” computers and meeting the needs of “dumb” customers who wanted turnkey products, the engineers at DEC always opted for technological advancement and paid attention only to those customers who provided a technical challenge.
Edgar H. Schein (2010). Dec Is Dead, Long Live Dec: The Lasting Legacy of Digital Equiment Corporation. p. 60
In a world in which training and functions of individuals and groups are growing more and more specialized the number of ways to accomplish any particular result increasing. Different design, different facilities, different equipment, different methods, and different organizational means are available to meet the needs of man. It is highly desirable that we have trained persons look at these varied possibilities to compare their effectiveness, and to point the way to sound engineering decisions. Systems Engineering Methods is directed towards the development of a broad systems engineering approach to help such people improve their decision-making capability. Although the emphasis is on engineering, the systems approach can also has validity for many other areas in which emphasis may be social, economic, or political.
Harold Chestnut (1967) Systems Engineering Methods. p. vii