Engineering, for much of the twentieth century, was mainly about artifacts and inventions. Now, it\’s increasingly about complex systems. As the airplane taxis to the gate, you access the Internet and check email with your PDA, linking the communication and transportation systems. At home, you recharge your plug-in hybrid vehicle, linking transportation to the electricity grid. Today’s large-scale, highly complex sociotechnical systems converge, interact, and depend on each other in ways engineers of old could barely have imagined. As scale, scope, and complexity increase, engineers consider technical and social issues together in a highly integrated way as they design flexible, adaptable, robust systems that can be easily modified and reconfigured to satisfy changing requirements and new technological opportunities. In this seminar on Engineering, I will offer a comprehensive examination of such systems and the associated emerging field of study. Through scholarly discussion, concrete examples, and history, we will consider the engineer’s changing role, new ways to model and analyze these systems, the impacts on engineering education, and the future challenges of meeting human needs through the technologically enabled systems of today and tomorrow. Particular emphasis will be placed on the role of information technology in this interconnected world.
Link to new book on this topic: http://mitpress.mit.edu/catalog/item/default.asp?ttype=2&tid=12746
Olivier L. de Weck is Associate Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Engineering Systems at MIT as well as Associate Director of the Engineering Systems Division. (longer bio attached).
Prof. de Weck’s research is in Systems Engineering. He focuses on complex man-made systems and how we can design them to maximize lifecycle value. Specific research results include methods such as Time-Expanded Decision Networks (TDN), the Delta-Design Structure Matrix and the Technology Infusion Analysis (TIA) process that have been demonstrated on systems of real-world complexity in space exploration (NASA), oil and gas exploration (BP) as well as complex electro-mechanical products (e.g. Xerox, UTC). He is an Associate Fellow of AIAA, and serves as Associate Editor for the Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets and the Journal of Mechanical Design. He won the 2008 and 2010 best paper awards from the journal Systems Engineering and the 2010 Capers and Marion MacDonald Award for Excellence in Mentoring and Advising. He serves as Associate Director of the Engineering Systems Division at MIT, an academic unit with 60 faculty members and 420 graduate students.