Technical Report: Research on Building Education and Workforce Capacity in Systems Engineering

Report Number: Interim Technical Report SERC-2012-TR-019-1

Report Name: Research on Building Education & Workforce Capacity in Systems Engineering

Publication Date: January 31, 2012


Executive Summary
Research on Building Workforce Capacity in Systems Engineering (referred to as RT-19A, SE capstone project, or capstone course throughout) is conducting research to measure the success
of student projects in systems engineering at ten main institutions of higher education (IHEs) and five partner schools. Since September 2011, students at the IHEs have engaged in the dual
task of designing physical prototypes in multidisciplinary teams and investigating systems engineering competencies, methods, concepts and DoD problem areas. Fifty-two reported faculty are supporting student learning of select systems engineering competencies derived from the SPRDE-SE/PSE model through lectures, take-home and in-class reading assignments on engineering concepts, teamwork exercises, formative and summative assessments, guest presentations, and hands-on prototype development. Mentorships, an integral part of the yearlong research effort, have provided students with ongoing technical expertise, project feedback, and opportunities to interact with industry and DoD engineering professionals as well as external faculty.
->Distinguishing features of this year’s effort include:
->Introduction of a new problem area, Assistive Technologies for Wounded Warriors.
->Systems Engineering content knowledge delivered through a combination of lecture and hands-on work in DoD problem areas beginning in the fall semester.
->Faculty selection of specific systems engineering competencies as course foci.
->Increased utilization of digital tools for distance communication between students’ virtual teams and with mentors.
->Addition of partner universities who are developing various forms of collaboration with their partners, including remote development of prototype subsystems.

Expeditionary Assistance Kits and Immersive Training Technologies were the two problem areas chosen by the greatest number of participating schools (6 schools for both areas), followed by
low-cost, low-power computing as the second most frequently chosen problem area. Two universities researched the new problem area, added this year (Assistive Technologies for Wounded Warriors), and partnered on the development of a prototype to relieve phantom limb pain. PIs at schools that returned surveys reported student interest (38.5%) and faculty research interest (30.8%) as the top two reasons for selecting a particular problem area. Nine institutions that had participated in RT-19 returned this year for RT-19A. Faculty at five institutions reported making minor changes to their courses. Faculty at two schools reported making major changes, including emphasizing general systems engineering concepts and models and lessening instruction on software engineering principles. The remaining six PIs designed entirely new capstone courses.