Just Enough Systems Engineering

I’ve been putting together a teaching course on Systems Engineering, and I came across a gem of an eBook by Dwayne Phillips, called “Just Enough Systems Engineering”.  I have found it very useful reference to help me develop the course, as it is filled with systems engineering wisdom.

Sys Eng Enough?

There is large amount of systems engineering material available from various sources – from Incose, many books, many presentations, and many research papers.  It can be hard to summarize the large body of knowledge into a useful teaching course.  I find this eBook unique in that is comes from the angle of how to use systems engineering practices from a very practical perspective.   And it is free!


There are many quotations in the book that I find very useful:

What does a systems engineer do?

“The systems engineer examines the entire system and applies a little wisdom.”

I think this is a good perspective as it helps simplify a very complex topic and help a practicing systems engineer remember the importance of using good judgement, which typically comes from experience – both of the practicing engineer, and any learnings from the experience of others.

When and how much systems engineering to apply

“Use systems engineering when the system and project are bigger than any two people.”

The importance of asking questions in the best way

“Here is where much of systems engineering collapses.”

Systems engineers have to work with a wide variety of people –the client, the builder, the development team, etc., and asking questions of these people in the right way is a key skill.  Many engineers have very strong problem solving skills.  A systems engineer also needs strong people skills, and this eBook has a wealth of material on how best to ask questions in the systems engineering context.  I haven’t found any other references that explain this angle well, and give very practical suggestions on how to succeed.

For anyone interested in becoming a better engineer, I highly recommend this eBook.