Editor’s note: Pat Hale is a former president of the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE).
The International Council on Systems Engineering (www.incose.org) held its 20th annual symposium in Chicago this July, celebrating an organization and a profession that are growing at a steady rate as new areas of product and practice are exposed to the power of systems engineering.
Since 1991, when the first symposium was held in Chattanooga, TN, attended by just over 100 representatives from the defense/aerospace industry, government agencies, and academia, INCOSE (then NCOSE) has grown into a vibrantly international and impressively diverse group. Members represent a range of industries from defense to finance and medicine.
That diversity was highlighted at this year’s symposium, when INCOSE’s most prestigious award, INCOSE Pioneer, was presented to Julian Goldman, MD. The citation read:
“For demonstrated extraordinary leadership in the advancement of the state-of-the-art and practice of systems engineering in the biomedical and healthcare fields. Through his pioneering work, Dr. Goldman has shown that breakthrough improvements in patient safety can be achieved by bringing together individuals and groups from the commercial, non-profit, education, and government sectors to focus on ‘the system of interest.’ The most impressive legacy of his work is in hearts and smiles of living, breathing patients, who, without his trailblazing efforts, might not be here today.”
The award of this honor—based on uniquely applying the engineering of systems to outcomes enhancing society—not to an engineer, but to a physician, is a milestone for INCOSE. Goldman is the founding director of the Program on Medical Device Interoperability at the Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology, and his award underscores the impact of systems engineering in new domains of practice.
The growth of INCOSE in every dimension, mirrored in the number of new faces and the energy within the technical working groups, provides evidence that the field of systems engineering is expanding to meet the challenges of an ever more complex set of societal needs.
MIT’s System Design and Management Program (SDM) has drawn much of its material for the systems engineering core course from the technical community in INCOSE, including the course text, which is the INCOSE Systems Engineering Handbook. This year, the partnership between SDM and INCOSE will expand further with the planned establishment of an MIT student chapter under the sponsorship of INCOSE’s New England chapter. And, next fall, SDM will welcome Goldman as keynote speaker at its annual systems thinking conference.