The Rise of Systems Engineering

One of the key innovations of the early 21st Century has been the drive to increase intelligence in physical systems. Whether in enabling more effective use of existing systems and resources, such as transport or energy; or in the development of new autonomous or self-directing behaviours in systems which assist us in the implementation of tasks. The addition of new sensor based systems to allow for detection and adaptation to changes in the environment, have brought in new possibilities for the application of intelligence in systems behaviour. However, the design and development of such systems is a non-trivial task, often requiring the observation of system constraints imposed by available power or systems with limited configurations or systems with limited access to information and communications capabilities. Designing these systems has been treated largely as an art form with hand crafted artisanship to the fore. But the stakes are rising as systems incorporate more and more capabilities to include the ability to interact with each other, in perhaps unforeseen ways. Thus the need to understand systems engineering as a discipline is emerging, both with a functional imperative - how to structure and make things work, and a secure perspective, how to guard against risks inherent in information technology. 


Hillary Sillitto has been at the forefront of Systems Engineering with a leading European Systems Design company, Thales, with experience in the large scale industrial sector. He has recently retired and written a very practical book: Architecting Systems: Concepts, Principles and Practice; and through KTN, we plan to develop a primer for Systems Engineering to form the core of our activities in Systems and Security. This will take the form of a series of webinars, developed from the intuitive structure of the book, supported by an online presence and an interactive element with the prospective community of users. This programme should be useful across many disciplines where systems are being developed and bring some of the more common software engineering principles and processes to the attention of practitioners. The aim is to create some foundations for future competitions and community development.


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