The twenty-first century provides an exciting opportunity for systems engineering. New advances in our understanding of the traditional discipline continue to emerge. At the same time, new forms of systems engineering have developed to address the engineering challenges of systems-of-systems (SoS) and enterprise systems. Even at this point in their evolution, these new forms display their own principles, processes, and practices. Some are different in degree than engineering at the system level, while others are different in kind
While it’s impossible to predict how the traditional and new forms of systems engineering will evolve, however, a robust future lies ahead. Increases in technological complexity result in new challenges in architecture, networks, hardware and software engineering, and human systems integration. At the same time, the engineering scale for systems exceeds levels that could have been imagined only a short time ago. As a consequence, all forms of systems engineering will be needed to solve future engineering challenges, sometimes separately—yet increasingly—in combination.
While the term systems engineering can be traced back at least to the 1940s, to this day no single, universal definition of the term exists. Frequently, systems engineering is defined by the context in which it is embedded. According to one definition of the classical practice, systems engineering is “an interdisciplinary approach to translating users’ needs into the definition of a system, its architecture and design through an iterative process that results in an effective operational system. Systems engineering applies over the entire life cycle, from concept development to final disposal