Free ticketed event
The focus of this workshop is integrating systems approach principles and content into non-systems engineering courses using a case study pedagogy. Participants should leave with a clearer understanding of what a systems approach is and how it can be integrated into existing engineering courses.
Systems thinking is a critical differentiator for engineering leaders. It is not owned by anyone or any discipline. Its power lies in its applicability to any problem; in particular, to the most complicated multiobjective, multi-stakeholder large scale problems facing society. In industry, the most influential engineers who rise to leadership invariably learn to view problems as systems. They are able to combine outstanding technical skills with a systems perspective.
The current state of engineer education, however, is famous for its focus and specialization. This focus is no accident -- the requisite knowledge to be an engineer requires deep understanding. In this juxtaposition – a need for systems thinkers and a curriculum for specialists -- lies the problem, the challenge, and the opportunity.
We are not the first to recognize this need: in fact, it is a national focus. One can find the call for a systems approach in multiple National Academy of Engineering publications – and throughout most the Grand Challenges for Engineering . The demand for systems engineering in both the Department of Defense  and NASA  is evident by the offices in each focused on systems engineering. Finally, the many calls for “T-shaped” engineers frequently focus on how to produce engineers with the top bar of the T, not just the vertical depth. Then-director of NSF’s engineering education division, Marshall Lih captured the need for engineers who take a systems approach by saying that “narrowly trained engineers in America tend to be subordinate to other professions… [and] are ill-equipped to fill top jobs in business or industry” .
As defined here, a systems approach is a “top-down, goal-oriented” method that operationalizes system thinking “to solve complex problems in the context of multiple stakeholders with competing and conflicting objectives where significant trade-offs are required to achieve acceptable outcomes under uncertain and changing conditions” .
"In the systems approach, concentration is on the analysis and design of the whole, as distinct from ... the components or parts ... The systems approach relates the technology to the need, the social to the technological aspects; it starts by insisting on a clear understanding of exactly what the problem is and the goal ... It provides for simulation and modeling so as to make possible predicting the performance before the entire system is brought into being. And it makes feasible the selection of the best approach from the many alternatives." Simon Ramo, Cure for Chaos, pp. 11, 12 
The workshop focuses on a “systems approach” as a process that operationalizes the broader topic of systems thinking . The overall systems approach has been turned into many specific systematic methodologies and tools using names such as systems analysis, systems life-cycle, systems integration, and systems dynamics modeling. The systems approach, as used in this workshop, however aims first to be systemic in its embodiment of systems thinking. This is in contrast to many systematic approaches, whose focus on process manifests in a mechanistic set of steps or reliance on a narrow set of tools.
Fundamentally, a systems approach is focused on improving systems performance. As such, the approach used in this workshop focuses on foundational questions related to this purpose such as:
• What is the system?
• How should performance of the systems be measured?
• How does the system perform now?
• What does a well-performing system look like?
• What trade-offs represent improvement?
We would like this workshop to be associated, at a minimum with both the Systems Engineering and the Design in Engineering Education Divisions. Program chairs from these two division have approached the workshop. We are working to approach other divisions.
Prof. Reid Bailey
Associate Professor in Systems and Information Engineering
With a BS from Duke University and an MS and PhD from Georgia Tech (all in mechanical engineering), Reid has focused his professional work on scholarly pursuit of helping students learn about designing in the real world. With a strong systems thread throughout his education, work, and teaching, Reid joined the Systems and Information Engineering Department at UVA in 2006. Reid teaches design in many places throughout the curriculum and performs engineering education research on measuring design knowledge and the behavior of interdisciplinary engineering design teams. Reid has taught both the introductory systems engineering course and co-created and currently teaches the integrated systems design class at UVA.
Prof. Michael C Smith
Executive Director of the Accelerated Masters Program and Lecturer
in Systems and Information Engineering from 2006-2016.
Michael Smith earned his B.S. and M.S. in Industrial Engineering at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and his Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering at the University of Missouri-Columbia. His experience involves teaching, research, and application of a broad spectrum of management science and operations management techniques with emphasis on systems analysis, design, and evaluation problems in public and private sector settings. He served on the Industrial Engineering faculties at Oregon State University and the University of Missouri-Columbia before joining Science Applications International Corporation where he was a Senior Scientist from 1983-2004. His technical expertise spans applied quantitative methods, strategic planning, technology evaluation, and organizational assessment. He has worked across a variety of application domains including manufacturing, transportation, defense, and health care. He has taught the introductory systems engineering class at UVA for over 10 years.
Dr. William T. Scherer
Professor in Systems and Information Engineering
William T. "Bill" Scherer is an expert in systems engineering, stochastic control, and business analytics. Bill has served on the University of Virginia Department of Systems and Information Engineering faculty since 1986. He also consults with numerous organizations on the topics of systems thinking and business analytics applied to disparate organizations. He has authored and co-authored numerous publications (journal and conference papers, business cases, and book chapters) on intelligent decision support systems, transportation systems, stochastic control, and systems thinking. His current research focuses on systems engineering methodology, financial engineering and intelligent transportation systems. His co-authored book, How To Do Systems Analysis, was published by Wiley in 2007, and a follow-on book, How to Do Systems Analysis: Primer and Casebook, was also published by Wiley in 2016. He has strong interests in engineering education and has published papers on curriculum and pedagogy, and was awarded an Outstanding University of Virginia Faculty Award in 2007. He was also a Visiting Professor at the Darden Graduate School of Business in 2001-2002 and President of the IEEE Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Society 2007-2008. He has taught the introductory graduate systems engineering class at UVA for many years along with multiple other courses in the systems engineering curriculum.
Dr. Cody H. Fleming
Assistant Professor in Systems and Information Engineering
Prior to joining UVA. Cody was a graduate student in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He worked in Professor Nancy Leveson's Systems Engineering Research Lab. Before returning to get his doctorate, Cody worked for several years in the aerospace industry where he helped develop large satellite systems. Cody currently teaches the introductory systems engineering class at UVA.
Dr. William H Guilford
Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Director of Educational Innovation in the School of Engineering and Applied Science
Will Guilford attended Saint Francis College in Fort Wayne Indiana where he double-majored in Biology and Chemistry. He subsequently studied Physiology at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona, and under the direction of Robert W. Gore (Emeritus) investigated the mechanics of ateriole-interstitium interactions. Will completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Vermont with renown biophysicist Dr. David M. Warshaw, studying the mechanics of smooth and skeletal muscle myosins using a laser trap transducer. He began in 1997 his faculty appointment at the University of Virginia in the School of Medicine, Department of Biomedical Engineering.
Will's research goal is to understand the molecular mechanisms by which cells move. His lab measures the mechanics of these processes at the level of individual molecules using a laser trap as an important experimental tool.
Will directs the undergraduate program in Biomedical Engineering, and has received numerous awards for teaching and for service to students, including the Harold S. Morton Award for Teaching, and the 2013 UVa Distinguished Professor Award. He is continually developing improved pedagogical approaches, particularly in the area of design, and better approaches to learning assessment.
Will serves as Director of Educational Innovation in the School of Engineering and Applied Science. In this role he oversees the online educational programs of the School (15th ranked nationally), and the School's experiential education programs. He also directs UVa's Beckman Scholars Program.
Will has worked to introduce systems concepts into an introductory biomedical engineering course.
Prof. Dana M. Elzey
Associate Professor of Engineering & Society
After graduating with a BS and MS in Mechanical Engineering, and working on the R&D staffs of IBM and General Electric, Elzey accepted an offer to conduct research in the area of high temperature fatigue failure of Ni-base superalloys at the Max-Planck Institute for Materials Research in Stuttgart, Germany. With this research as the subject of his dissertation, he obtained a Doctor of Science degree from the Universitaet Stuttgart in 1989. Elzey joined the UVA Department of Materials Science & Engineering as a post-doctoral fellow in 1990, working on the modeling and processing of advanced, fiber-reinforced composites and smart, cellular materials. He was appointed Research Assistant Professor in 1993 and promoted to Research Associate Professor in 2001. He has published two books and more than 70 technical articles in these areas.
The Engineering In Context (EIC) Program, which he created together with Prof. Kathryn Neeley in 2001, is a multidisciplinary capstone program, bringing students together from all of the engineering disciplines, medicine, commerce, architecture and environmental sciences. The EIC Program has taught more than 300 engineering students in a client-driven, multidisciplinary environment, with a number of projects in global engineering development (e.g. in Yaounde and Bahmendi, Cameroon, South Africa, Guatemala and Nicaragua). In 2004, Elzey was appointed Director of the Rodman Scholars (honors engineering) Program, in which he provides teaching, advising and administration. Having created a study abroad program for engineering students in 2005, Elzey was called on to create and become the first director of Engineering International Programs in 2007. This office, dedicated to providing a wide range of opportunities for engineering undergraduates to gain international experience, now sees more than 25% of students studying abroad by the time they graduate.
Elzey has served on the Faculty Senate and continues to serve a number of organizations across Grounds, including the Jefferson Scholars Foundation undergraduate advisory board, Center for Global Health Fellows, and the Center for Global Inquiry and Innovation. He has been recognized for his teaching and service through the Mac Wade Award, Raven Society, Z Society, Harold S. Morton Award, inaugural Kinnier Award, University Academy of Teaching Fellow, and the Hartfield-Jefferson Scholars Teaching Prize.
Dana Elzey has integrating systems concepts into first-year design courses for many years.
Dr. Scott T Acton
Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Scott Acton’s laboratory at UVA is called VIVA - Virginia Image and Video Analysis. They specialize in biological image analysis problems. The research emphases of VIVA include tracking, segmentation, representation, retrieval, classification and enhancement. Professor Acton has over 250 publications in the image analysis area.
In teaching a course called "How the iPhone Works" which is open to all engineering students, he has worked to integrate systems concepts.
Dr. Brian L. Smith P.E.
Professor and Chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Brian L. Smith is Professor and Chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Virginia. Dr. Smith is also the Director of the University’s Center for Transportation Studies. He has been a member of the University of Virginia faculty since 1998 and is a registered professional engineer in Virginia.
Brian was elected as a Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) in 2009, and is also a recipient of the 2006 ASCE Huber Research Award, 2004 Council of University Transportation Center’s New Faculty Award, an National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award, an Eno Transportation Leadership Fellow, a 2001-2002 University of Virginia Teaching Fellow, and a selected participant in the 2000 NAE Symposium on Frontiers of Engineering. He is an associate editor of the ASCE Journal of Transportation Engineering. He is also the author of a chapter on Transportation Management in the text "Intelligent Transportation Primer."
Brian has taught courses on transportation engineering, surveying, geographic information systems, and construction engineering. His primary research interests are in transportation systems engineering, focusing on sustainability, intelligent transportation systems (ITS), advanced transportation management and connected vehicles. Dr. Smith has published ITS-related research in the areas of cooperative systems, probe-based traffic monitoring, statistical modeling, traffic flow theory, data mining, geographic information systems (GIS), and artificial intelligence.
Brian has worked to integrate systems approaches to an introductory civil engineering course.
Prof. James W. Lark III
Lecturer in Systems and Information Engineering and Applied Math.
With a BS in Mathematics and a PhD in Systems Engineering, Jim Lark has taught at the intersection of these two fields for the past 25+ years. As part of this project, he is working to integrate systems concepts into a a junior-year applied statistics class.
Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Director of Motion Analysis & Motor Performance Laboratory
With BS and PhD in mechanical engineering and and MS in medical/biomedical engineering, Shawn Russell leads the lab focuses on gait analysis and biomechanical motion analysis at the UVA Medical Center. This lab performs both clinical work and research. Additionally, Shawn teaches classes in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. He is working to integrate systems concepts into the introductory mechanical engineering class.