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The Paradoxical Mindset of Systems Engineers by Devanandham Henry, Nicole Hutchison, Arthur Pyster

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3FIFTEEN ROLES

“Elegance” in engineering design is an ineluctable concept; it is immediately apparent when it exists, yet it is difficult to define, impossible to quantify… It is offered here that, properly understood, system[s] engineering at its core is concerned with attaining elegant designs.

– Former NASA Administrator Michael Griffin

Recall that in Chapter 1, we said:

We also said that in Chapter 3, you would find out those 15 specific roles. Well, the wait is over!

Systems engineers occupy positions in companies, such as chief systems engineer, systems engineer level 3, requirements analyst, or product architect. These are the job titles that human resources departments recognize or that appear on business cards. Every company has its own set of titles – there is no standardization across organizations or business segments.

Standardizing position titles is not important, but it is critical here that we have standard ways to describe what systems engineers really do. From the Helix interviews, 15 standard roles emerged. A role is a related set of systems engineering activities. A person occupying a single position usually plays several roles. For example, it is common for a senior systems engineer to simultaneously perform several roles such as being a TECHNICAL LEADER and an INSTRUCTOR/TEACHER, all wrapped into a single ...

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