I've been a member of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) for almost 15 years. As part of my membership in this 125 year old society I get their wonderful magazine, IEEE Spectrum. Every now and then they publish an article that just highlights the need for a stronger and more vibrant Systems Engineering profession. This months lead article did that in spades as it outlined the woes and tribulations of DoD's Weapons Acquisitions System. The article is appropriately called: "What's Wrong with Weapons Acquisitions?"
Not only does this article delve into the an area I've spent most of my career in trying to figure out, but it also explains how Systems Engineers are the key components to the process. Only problem is there are way too few of us.
"Another factor contributing to program failure is the shortage of technically trained people, especially systems engineers. A systems engineer translates technical needs into an overall system architecture that creates the best operational capability at the most affordable cost. As a project proceeds and goals or needs shift, systems engineers have to determine the difficult but necessary cost, schedule, and performance trade-offs to keep everything on track. As programs get bigger and more complex, the need for rigorous systems engineering increases."
Such a short paragraph but such a powerful explanation in how Systems Engineering brings the technical, operational and the programmatic together in beautiful harmony. Makes me proud of our humble profession. But as one of my other blog post pointed out, we are facing a shortage of engineers in general. Definitely a dilemma which will effect our future in profound ways. Only time will be able to tell us how bad it'll be.
But this article also show us that there is hero potential within every Systems Engineer. It's a great thing to be able to bring sanity to a broken process, to wrestle order out of the chaos, to bring the best solution to a profoundly perplexing predicament. If you know a Systems Engineer please give him or her a hug today. Theirs is a noble endeavor. Encourage them to greatness.