Raytheon recently signed an agreement with the University of Massachusetts Amherst to make Raytheon’s Principles of Systems Engineering (PoSE) course part of the College of Engineering curriculum. More than 5,200 Raytheon employees have completed PoSE, but this exciting partnership between two respected Massachusetts organizations marks the first time that PoSE has been taught for college credit to non-Raytheon graduate students and undergraduate seniors. The course, which began September 7 and has 29 enrolled students, is taught by David McLaughlin, professor of electrical and computer engineering and interim associate dean.
Dr. McLaughlin is also an engineering fellow at IDS (Raytheon’s Integrated Defense Systems group) and director of the CASA Project (Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere), an engineering research center set up by the National Science Foundation.
“The problems that society brings to engineering today require systems solutions,” said McLaughlin. "Clean water, cybersecurity, sustainable energy, transportation — you name it. PoSE is the best I've seen at giving engineering students exposure to life-cycle engineering concepts and processes in a teaching setting.”
In PoSE, students work in teams to explore the life cycles of engineered systems and become conversant in the processes of group design work. The teams create a design, then rotate into new teams and continue to work using the set of drawings left behind by the previous teams. This demonstrates the fundamental importance of design artifacts and reinforces process as an enabler of collaboration.
McLaughlin sees experiences like PoSE as a boost to initiatives that seek to inspire a larger, more diverse pool of students to study science, technology, engineering, and math — also known as STEM. The university plans to implement a certificate program or eventual degree program that integrates systems engineering into its core offerings, as well as to continue to raise awareness of the “people side” of systems engineering.
“Many young people want to pursue academic majors in fields that help people and have social components,” said McLaughlin. “We need to step up efforts to help young people, and the population at large, understand that society needs technological solutions that are fundamentally linked to engineering endeavors.” (October 2010)