The origins of the systems engineering section in Chapter 1 described how the emergence of complex systems and the prevailing conditions of advancing technology, competitive pressures, and specialization of engineering disciplines and organizations required the development of a new profession: systems engineering. This profession did not, until much later, bring with it a new academic discipline, but rather, it was initially filled by engineers and scientists who acquired through experience the ability to lead successfully complex system development programs. To do so, they had to acquire a greater breadth of technical knowledge and, more importantly, to develop a different way of thinking about engineering, which has been called “the systems engineering viewpoint.”

The essence of the systems engineering viewpoint is exactly what it implies—making the central objective the system as a whole and the success of its mission. This, in turn, means the subordination of individual goals and attributes in favor of those of the overall system. The systems engineer is always the advocate of the total system in any contest with a subordinate objective.

Successful Systems

The principal focus of systems engineering, from the very start of a system development, is the success of the system—in meeting its requirements and development objectives, its successful operation in the field, and a long, useful operating life. The systems ...

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