Use Case 2: Other Engineers

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The SEBoK is useful to engineers in other areas. It helps them appreciate a broader view of systems beyond their specialty, and why good systems engineering practice must involve multiple disciplines. Part 1 of the SEBoK, provides an orientation and overview of systems engineering for other kinds of engineers who have an interest in systems engineering. The extensive lists of references in Part 1 and throughout the SEBoK provide a basis for further readings on selected topics in systems engineering.

Use of Topics

Other kinds of engineers will find the following knowledge areas of the SEBoK to be relevant to their interests and needs:

Part 2 of the SEBoK provides a guide to those areas of systems knowledge particularly relevant to systems engineering. This provides a foundation for the subsequent elements of the theory and practice of systems engineering in Parts 3, 4 and 5.

In Part 3 of the SEBoK, other engineers will find most of the subjects to be of interest. In particular, the knowledge areas of Life Cycle Models, System Definition, System Realization, and System Deployment and Use will be of value. Although many engineers may be tempted to skip over Systems Engineering Management, most of the topics are relevant for other engineers (e.g., risk management, measurement, configuration management, and quality management).

Reading Part 4 (product, service, enterprise, and systems of systems engineering) will provide other kinds of engineers with an overview of the distinctions among SE activities for these different kinds of engineered systems. Other engineers involved in development or modification of one of these types of systems will benefit from reading the content, primary references, and glossary terms for for the engineering of that type of system.

Other kinds of engineers may be tempted to bypass the knowledge areas in Part 5 of the SEBoK. However, other engineers will benefit from understanding how they and systems engineers fit into the larger picture of enabling individuals and teams to perform systems engineering activities, and how systems engineers fit into the larger picture of systems engineering organizational strategies. In particular, the topic of Organizing Teams to Perform Systems Engineering will be of interest.

Software engineers would benefit from reading the Systems Engineering and Software Engineering knowledge area. Individuals involved in one of the specialty disciplines will benefit from reading the Systems Engineering and Specialty Engineering knowledge area. See the example Software Engineering Vignette.

The Part 6 knowledge area Systems Engineering and Project Management will be of interest to most other kinds of engineers. Finally, Part 7 of the SEBoK, provides implementation examples that illustrate the application of systems engineering practices, principles, and concepts in real settings. Some of these may be of direct applicability for engineers who have backgrounds and experiences in those kinds of systems; all of the examples provide concrete examples of the role of systems engineering in various kinds of projects and programs.

Vignette: Software Engineer

Jose Wilks is an entrepreneurial software engineer wanting to learn more about systems engineering principles applied to embedded systems for advanced document identification and verification. He wants to implement best practices in developing highly secure systems for real-time image processing and forensic verification of documents. His company's technology runs on proprietary tablet computers for portable and fixed locations. It provides a rapid, secure and cost effective solution for verifying the authenticity of identity, travel and financial documents.

He is already knowledgeable about computer hardware engineering, interfaces at the lowest level with software, and their tradeoffs in embedded devices. His company has experience developing research prototypes, but without the stringent security requirements for actual field usage linked to government identification databases. His sales have only been a few individual experimental units, which have fared well in limited testing, but he wants to expand into markets for government agencies, law enforcement departments and the private sector. New constraints and challenges abound.

With 20 years of technical and management experience on software projects he already is familiar with concepts in the SWEBoK. So he starts skimming SEBoK 1.0 Introduction and the Scope and Context of the SEBoK to get an overview of the SEBoK contents. Most of the parts have nuggets of knowledge with pointers to help his enterprise operate at an expanded level, as described below.

Part 3: SE and Management has some new concepts that may work. Reading Life Cycle Models he identifies some extra system-level V&V gates to incorporate in their processes with references for implementation details. He is enlightened about system-wide procedures beyond software V&V, and where to find testing and regulation standards used by various government entities. These processes will ensure conformity to the regulations on top of traditional software testing and expedite being approved for use.

Though he has a proven system concept, somehow he has to convince potential buyers on the financial benefits of his system while also assuring that all security criteria are satisfied. He needs to better understand the needs of the stakeholders including users, corporate/government purchasers, regulatory agencies and start using their terminology in expressing system requirements and benefits. This leads him directly to Stakeholder Needs and Requirements. His company will need to quantify the expected ROI for investing in his products.

System Realization is important to understand the broader V&V concerns. Reliability measures on his system performance will need to be demonstrated. He wasn't aware of standard models and measures for system reliability, so he will now ask his staff to develop tests to quantify important attributes. A form of Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) may also be useful for modeling reliability and the system adherence to regulations. They will check the references for more details.

In Systems Engineering Management he recognizes new CM and IM procedures need to be adopted for federal database controls and integrity. Systems Engineering Standards provides important references that will be used for in-house documents and test case development.

Studying Part 5: Enabling Systems Engineering, he realizes it is critically important to have the right people for a new systems engineering culture. He should probably hire a systems engineer or two to expand his current engineering department expertise.

In Part 6: Related Disciplines, the topic of Security Engineering stands out. There he finds references for further study in this burgeoning area.

In Part 7: Systems Engineering Implementation Examples, he identifies the FBI Virtual Case File System Case Study being relevant to avoid pitfalls experienced in a application related to private data concerns.

Jose is now better prepared to adapt his processes for new system lifecycles and environments. He can quantify the business case to potential clients for his technology innovations, the initial morass of agencies and regulations is now finite, he can make inroads into new markets, and simultaneously strengthen his staff for the long term enterprise.

Vignette: Mechanical Engineer

Cindy Glass is a mechanical engineer with experience in the petroleum industry, primarily working with large oil extraction equipment in the field. Now she is tasked to help architect new offshore oil platforms with robotic technology and broader systems considerations. This calls for incorporating systems engineering principles from day one.

Some of the drilling operations will be done remotely with unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs). Safety has always been a major concern but now cyber security also is. Environmental hackers or others may try to cause havoc by taking control of the remote vehicles over the network. Unfortunately she is completely new to software system implementation. Cindy realizes there are many more dimensions of system constraints and engineering disciplines to deal with.

She already understands mechanical tradeoffs between different types of rigs and drilling materials, but now has to incorporate system security and new environmental constraints in her system analysis. System Realization gives her references for system design with many ilities.

Previously she implemented minor design changes in existing equipment with safety guidelines already in place. Now she is dealing with the earliest stages of the platform lifecycle starting from scratch. This will require concurrent engineering with prototypes and working slices of platform elements while evaluating technology opportunities, understanding the needs of all stakeholders, and progressing through a succession of increasingly detailed prototypes, specifications, designs, plans, business cases, security and safety analyses of the platform architecture and operations.

Her SE management Project planning activities will have to be rigorous. Testing will have to involve all the disciplines. Since she is new to working on software projects and with software engineers, by reading through Ten Things a Systems Engineer Needs to Know about Software Engineering, she is reminded to include security specialists at both the software level and the systems level.

Cindy now appreciates the range of engineering disciplines she needs to work with. The references in the SEBoK will be consulted throughout the architecting, design, development and deployment of new platforms.


The SEBoK provides insights and guidance concerning systems engineering principles for other kinds of engineers and related technical disciplines. These engineers will benefit from the knowledge areas highlighted in this use case. The SEBoK gives pointers to major references for other engineers to become more interdisciplinary and consider additional aspects in their job.


Works Cited

Abran, A., J. W. Moore, P. Bourque, R. Dupuis, and L. L. Tripp. 2004. SWEBOK: Guide to the Software Engineering Body of Knowledge, 2004 version. Los Alamitos, CA, USA and Tokyo, Japan: IEEE Computer Society Press.

Primary References

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Additional References

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SEBoK v. 1.9.1 released 30 September 2018

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