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Advanced Systems Engineering Certificate

The Caltech Advanced Systems Engineering Certificate Program provides the advanced tools and methods needed to solve the challenges of designing and developing today’s complex systems.

The program consists of 4 integrated courses:

  • System Architecture Development and Evaluation
  • Model-Based Systems Engineering and SysML
  • Software Systems Engineering
  • Systems Integration

The focus of this program is on practical application of proven methods for ensuring robust, cost-effective designs that meet stringent functional, performance, and cost requirements under realistic constraints.

Program content has been selected to reflect the unique needs and challenges of industry, and topics critical to systems engineering execution success. Program instructors are selected for their expertise and practical systems engineering experience in industry and government agencies. They provide practical examples and lessons learned to create an exceptional learning environment.


System Architecture Development and Evaluation

The system architecture is often the primary feature that determines system lifecycle cost, customer satisfaction, maintainability, evolvability, adaptability, and a host of other "ilities". Yet, architecture quality has been a difficult characteristic to quantify and evaluate. This course examines the methods used to develop and evaluate system architectures and reviews recent research in application of these methods to architecture designs and development.

In this 4-day course, participants will learn to:

  • Identify and prioritize architecture characteristics to meet stakeholder requirements
  • Identify and select an appropriate methodology to evaluate and compare specific architectures
  • Perform architecture comparisons and present results
  • Present architecture evaluations to stakeholders and to establish a basis for the selected architecture design

Topics include:

  • Architecture description methods including the DoD Architecture Framework (DoDAF) and the Zachman method
  • Desirable architecture characteristics and methods for their identification
  • Standards whose compliance or non-compliance determine an architecture’s attributes
  • Methodologies for architecture evaluation such as the SEI's ATAM (Architecture Tradeoff Analysis Method)
  • Presentation of architecture evaluation results

Model-Based Systems Engineering and SysML

This course is an introduction to model-based systems engineering (MBSE) with an additional focus area on the Object Management Group's standard system modeling language (SysML). Examples of MBSE including system of systems, mission analysis, operational/business analysis and platform specific system trades space analysis are presented. Physics based models are used to facilitate understanding of the four pillars of SysML (Structure, Behavior, Requirements, Parametrics).

In this 4-day course, participants will learn to:

  • Plan the use of MBSE processes and methods in the Systems Engineering lifecycle
  • Leverage the systems architecture context for systems models and specify boundary conditions for subsequent analytic and simulation studies
  • Select the appropriate level of granularity for modeling various systems engineering trades and analyses
  • Use standards based tools to create, update and deploy

Topics include:

  • Model usage for requirements analysis, specialty engineering, systems architecting, functional analysis, trade space analysis, performance analysis and costing
  • Model Based Engineering (MBE) across disciplines (systems, software, mechanical, electrical, etc.)
  • Verification and validation applications of Model-Based Systems Engineering

Software Systems Engineering

Functionality is increasingly being provided by software in modern systems. This course addresses current topics and issues in software-intensive system development, focusing on the role and responsibilities of the software systems engineer as the interface between systems engineering and software development.

In this 2-day course, participants will learn to:

  • Interface with customers and systems engineers in system planning and development
  • Plan and estimate software system/subsystem developments
  • Technically monitor and control software development projects

Topics include:

  • The role of software in modern systems
  • Interfacing among the customer, systems engineering and software development
  • Software development lifecycle standards, process planning, risk assessment, and cost/schedule estimation
  • Software architecture trades, modeling, requirements definition, allocation, and tracing
  • Technical monitoring and control of different development methodologies
  • Current software development tools, frameworks, designs, and development issues and trends

Systems Integration

Systems integration is significantly impacted by planning, requirements definition, requirements allocation, and subsystem technical coordination and management. This course reviews the pitfalls and best practices of systems engineering that affect system integration performance.

In this 2-day course, participants will learn to:

  • Recognize organizational pitfalls and best practices that influence integration performance
  • Apply planning methods that facilitate smooth integration
  • Define system requirements and allocate them to subsystems and components to ensure completeness and consistency of subsystem performance
  • Apply technical management practices that identify and resolve integration problems early in the development process before integration begins

Topics include:

  • Organization and management practices for integration
  • Planning practices that facilitate integration
  • Requirements definition, allocation and traceability methods
  • Technical monitoring, tracking and risk management methods to mitigate integration risks

Who Should Attend

Systems engineers, software/hardware engineers, component/subsystems engineers, project managers, and technical support personnel who want a practical toolkit for solving complex systems engineering problems.


Steve Wall; Ron Williamson, PhD; Doug Wood