Cornell University

Ezra's Round Table/Systems Engineering Seminar: What I Wish I Had Known About Systems Engineering

Friday, October 28, 2011 at 12:00pm

Frank H. T. Rhodes Hall, 253

Systems Engineering has had a long, often invisible, history. Only recently has the importance of the field become truly appreciated...and only recently has the field been recognized as an academic pursuit in its own right. This emergence is attributable to the growing complexity of the things that engineers build; the increasing number of advancements that involve combining progress in two or more technical disciplines; and, unfortunately, the number of failures that have occurred due to problems taking place at interfaces—not to mention the unintended consequences from what otherwise seem to be sound engineering decisions within a given discipline.

Further challenging the field of systems engineering is the fact that it cannot limit its scope to matters governed by the established laws of nature, the laws of humanity, or even by the laws of probability. This is because large systems invariably include humans—and economics—and politics—and irrational behavior.

Nonetheless, many, if not all, of the great challenges faced by the world today are systems problems. These range from the provision of energy to preserving our climate; from healthcare to national security; from growing the economy to the provision of food and water.

Event Type



College of Engineering, Systems Engineering


engineering, systems engineering





Norman R. Augustine

Speaker Affiliation

Retired Chairman and CEO, Lockheed Martin Corp.; Former member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush

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