Technical Report: Atlas: The Theory of Effective Systems Engineers, Version 0.25

Report Number: Technical Report SERC-2014-TR-038-4

Report Name: Atlas: The Theory of Effective Systems Engineers, Version 0.25


Executive Summary

During this most recent phase of the Helix project, the team has developed Atlas1: the Theory of Effective Systems Engineers. Figure 1 provides an overview of the theory2 and an outline of its key variables.This report offers insight into proficiency, the forces that impact proficiency, and personal and organizational enabling characteristics. Proficiency is the quality or state of an individual’s systems engineering relevant knowledge, skills, abilities, behaviors, and cognitions. The team has identified six proficiency areas that are further described in this report: Math/Science/General Engineering; System’s Domain and Operational Context; Systems Engineering Discipline; Systems Engineering Mindset; Interpersonal Skills; and Technical Leadership. The forces that impact proficiency are experiences, mentoring, and education and training. The discussion of personal and organizational characteristics builds upon the findings detailed in the first and second Helix reports. (Pyster et al. 2013 and 2014) Building on research reported in those earlier Helix reports, the Helix team performed additional career path analysis, including refinement of the criteria for defining junior, mid-level, and senior systems engineers. (See Section 7) These updated criteria help to provide more clarity on the growth of systems engineers, which is a critical step in beginning to model how systems engineers progress through their careers.

Publication Date: November 21, 2014