Systems engineering is an interdisciplinary field of engineering and engineering management that focuses on how to design and manage complex systems over their life cycles. At its core, systems engineering utilizes systems thinking principles to organize this body of knowledge. Issues such as requirements engineering, reliability, logistics, coordination of different teams, testing and evaluation, maintainability and many other disciplines necessary for successful system development, design, implementation, and ultimate decommission become more difficult when dealing with large or complex projects. Systems engineering deals with work-processes, optimization methods, and risk management tools in such projects. It overlaps technical and human-centered disciplines such as industrial engineering, mechanical engineering, manufacturing engineering, control engineering, software engineering, electrical engineering, cybernetics, organizational studies, civil engineering and project management. Systems engineering ensures that all likely aspects of a project or system are considered, and integrated into a whole.
The systems engineering process is a discovery process that is quite unlike a manufacturing process. A manufacturing process is focused on repetitive activities that achieve high quality outputs with minimum cost and time. The systems engineering process must begin by discovering the real problems that need to be resolved, and identify the most probable or highest impact failures that can occur – systems engineering involves finding solutions to these problems.
Initially, when the primary purpose of a systems engineer is to comprehend a complex problem, graphic representations of a system are used to communicate a system's functional and data requirements. Common graphical representations include:
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