Systems Engineering + Design Curriculum

Systems Engineering + Design Curriculum Information:

30 total credit hours, at least 18 credits at the 500 level, and at least 24 graded. Minimum GPA 3.0/4.0 required for graduation. At most, 6 credit-hours at the 400-level may be applied towards the degree. Complete all of the courses on the approved Plan of Study within five years from the date of first enrollment in the program. No more than 6 credit hours can be transferred from another institution.

Integrative Science (9-12 Credits)

Required Course (9 Credits)

Course Offerings (3 Credits)

  • Model-Based Systems & Design
  • Integrative Thinking
  • Socio-Technology
  • Global Engineering Leadership
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Career Pathways (9 Credits)​

Course Offerings

  • Design Engineering
  • Risk and Decision Management
  • Model-based Systems Engineering
  • Smart Civil Infrastructure
  • Integrated Mobility Systems
  • Engineering Project Management

Program Core (6 Credits)

Course Offerings​

  • Systems Analysis
  • Requirements Management
  • Test and Evaluation

Immersive Practice (3-6 Credits)

Course Offerings

* Please Note: ISD cannot guarantee these courses are available every academic year or every term; these lists are updated on an on-going basis.

Integrative Science

(9-12 Credits)

Global Engineering Leadership

Engineering leaders are needed to strategically think and act globally based on an integration of academic excellence in engineering and business, experience in a variety of settings and environments, and the ability to lead across cultures and within organizations of varied sizes. In this field, you will strengthen your ability to develop engineering and business practices, develop cross-cultural leadership competencies, learn how to work within a global community, and lead with purpose, strategy, and vision in the development of sustainable global products, services, and processes for the common good.


Key Competencies:

  • Ability to scope and identify unique challenges of global engineering projects:
    • Global regulatory issues
    • Internationally-recognized engineering and manufacturing quality norms
    • Managing technology and legal contracts
    • Global Supply Chain Issues/Outsourcing/ Offshoring/
    • Re-positioning of Corporations and Subcontractors
    • Risk Management
    • Cross-cultural decision making
    • Understanding consequences/impact of decisions
  • Provide tools for taking corrective actions (within context of “real-world” global problems)
  • International Cultural Competency
  • Multicultural team management and global team leadership

Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Innovation and entrepreneurship drive today’s engineering world. Fueling this growth from global corporations to small businesses and national governments to local governments is a need to build sustainable products, services, and technologies. In this field, you will integrate concepts of innovation and entrepreneurship with engineering, science, and design in pursuit of opportunities to innovate solutions to highly complex problems. Here, you will learn how to be the next industry “true innovators” in strengthening market uptake of raw materials solutions and building a bigger platform for a greener future

Key Competencies:

  • Knowledge of market forces
  • Financial insight (understanding numbers)
  • Strategic thinking
  • Negotiation
  • Persuasion
  • Ability to influence
  • Creativity
  • Business planning and integration

Integrative Thinking

Integrative thinking requires seeing problems from multiple viewpoints, taking them all into consideration, and searching for creative solutions through a transformative approach. It requires shifting the focus to the vulnerabilities and capacities of single systems or sectors to interconnected systems and how these will shift over time, taking into account multidirectional interactions of projected changes, responses, and effects. This leads to understanding how to compose a holistic view of a problem, co-construct new knowledge, explore alternative views and methods of problem analysis, and synthesize them into a coherent solution. In this field, you will discover how to integrate across multiple boundaries for the greater good.

Key Competencies:

  • Broad technical, business, management, and education experience
  • Ability to construct and correlate models that are abstractions of interactions and to evaluate data against the model
  • “Big picture” thinking
  • Understanding, at least at the top level, what knowledge domains are relevant and prioritizing their importance

Model Based Systems and Design

Solving complex problems requires deeper levels of systems understanding. Modeling helps designers/engineers work at greater levels of complexity to support system requirements, design, analysis, verification and validation activities beginning in the conceptual design phase and continuing throughout development and later life cycle phases. In this field, you will strengthen your ability to create and implement models to support every stage of the engineering and design process as well as drive learning for modeling, analyzing, and solving complex problems.

Key Competencies:

  • Modeling complex systems
  • Optimization
  •  Data analytics
  • Behavioral models
  • Business/Dynamic modeling
  • Qualitative models
  • Digital twins development
  • Evaluate data quality


Engineers are needed to design within social, political, economic, and cultural contexts. In this field, you will design things that participate in complex systems that have both social and technical aspects, study the intersection of society and technology as a grouping of social engineering and management science and learn how to develop new technologies to meet challenges in energy, environment, food, housing, water, transportation, safety, and health. You will also learn the societal impact of engineering and design decisions at the intersection of science and technology. 

Key Competencies:

  • Socially engaged decision making
  • Operational understanding of the impact of technology on society, world, environment (vice versa)
  • Global awareness

Program Core

(6 Credits)

Requirements Management

Requirements Management is the process of ensuring your organization validates and meets the needs of its customers and external and internal stakeholders. Those needs are typically referred to as requirements, which represent capabilities that will satisfy your product strategy. In this field, you will manage and update project database to ensure efficient information exchange across the project team, identify inconsistencies between decisions of different teams, expedite resolution of differences, and understand data structures, programming, model-based systems engineering, configuration control, and communication.

Key Competencies:

  • Data Structures
  • Programming
  • Model-Based Systems Engineering
  • Configuration Control
  • Communication

Systems Analysis

Systems Analysis is the process of studying a procedure or business to identify its goal and purposes and create systems and procedures that will efficiently achieve them. Benefits include decreased costs, improved efficiencies, increased flexibility, and better management, quality, and controls. In this field, you will learn how to run different optimization software applications and define problems, understand creative definition of optimization problems to minimize computational issues, and study convex and global optimization.

Key Competencies:

  • Problem Definition
  • Linear and Goal Programming
  • Convex Optimization
  • Global Optimization

Test And Evaluation

Test and Evaluation is critical to ensuring a system meets capability needs and evolves from models to components to production articles and complete systems. In this field, you will learn how to design cost-effective low-risk experiments to verify and validate designs at the component and system level, study modern null hypothesis, understand quantitative analysis and statistics, and determine value of information analysis.

Key Competencies:

  • Modern Null Hypothesis Testing
  • Quantitative Analysis and Statistics
  • Value of Information Analysis

Career Pathways

(9 Credits)

Design Engineering

Design Engineering uses design science and model-based design across the complete lifecycle of a product to ensure the final product functions, performs and is fit for the purposes of its intended users. Recognizing that design is a socio-technical process, design engineering involves collaboration with other engineers, marketers, and customer representatives. In this field, you will learn how to create new products, combine data analysis with creative synthesis, analyze data on existing and potential customer concerns, and leverage this data.

Key Competencies:

  • Human-centered Design
  • Human-centered data analysis
  • Creative Synthesis

Engineering Project Management

Engineering project management is the initiation, planning, execution, control, and completion of an engineering team’s work based on project goals and resource/time constraints and reflecting technological uncertainties. In this field, you will learn how to dynamically update information on the feasibility of existing design activities as well as the desirability of different customer deliverables, leverage this information, and dynamically adjust budgets, deadlines, and targets for different activities to maximize project success.

Key Competencies:

  • Feasibility Assessment
  • Value Assessment
  • Project Management

Integrated Mobility Systems

Cargo and people move using a combination of trucks, cars, trains, planes, ships and subways. Systems engineers must integrate these increasingly connected solutions to ensure efficient solutions to mobility challenges. Career paths can include mobility planning (mas transit, personal transit), technical planning and project leadership, logistics engineering, data subsystems for mobility solutions by suppliers, OEMs, start-ups and transportation planners.


Key Competencies:

  • Multi-attribute optimization applied to social, governmental, technological, and competitive dimensions
  • Data Analytics
  • Transportation Engineering
  • Reliability and Safety Analysis
  • Logistics
  • Human Motor Behavior

Model-Based Systems Engineering

Model-based systems engineering is a formalized methodology used to support the requirements, design, analysis, verification, and validation associated with the development of complex systems. In this field, you will learn management of real-time information on design and verification requirements supports the project team, and software skills in database management, programming, and communication.

Key Competencies:

  • Database management
  • Programming
  • Communication

Risk And Decision Management

Sources of wasted effort are unnecessary meetings, over-engineering, faulty requirements, and defective work products. But even valuable improvements, when unexpected, can lead to wasteful rework by other activities. In this field, you will learn how to become a lean, agile, and robust engineer who employs statistically rigorous techniques in efficiently and effectively designing products that conform to requirements and customer expectations.

Key Competencies:

  • Decision Trees
  • Value of Information Analysis
  • Multi-attribute Utility
  • Discounting Utility Over Time

Smart Civil Infrastructure

Civil infrastructures and environmental systems are increasingly incorporating intelligent and autonomous subsystems (e.g., decision systems, feedback control,  advanced artificial intelligence, sensor and actuation networks). These technologies make infrastructures more responsive to uncertain and dynamically-changing environments and loads, thus enhancing their resilience and reliability. They can also enable real-time,  automated adaptation and reconfiguration of infrastructures to enhance efficiency and sustainability. This career path provides a rigorous exposure to many concepts from systems engineering (e.g., dynamical systems, control theory, sensing and signal processing, and optimization theory)- with special attention  to Civil and Environmental Engineering applications.

Key Competencies:

  • System and control theory
  • Sensing technologies
  • Signal processing and data analytics
  • Optimization
  • Risk-based decision theory

Immersive Practice

(3-6 Credits)


Work for leading industry partners to apply what you learn during your ISD coursework in a semester- or year-long project to contribute new ideas and knowledge to high priority engineering and technical issues. Learn more about this component of the ISD Curriculum on the ISD Practicum page.



ISD 503 Project Practicum

Take 3 academic credits per semester for up to two semesters. One capstone project enrollment, or approved alternative, is required for graduation. A second capstone project enrollment in another semester is allowed pending Program Director approval.