Use Case 4: Educators and Researchers
For educators or researchers, the SEBoK should be used together with GRCSE (Graduate Reference Curriculum for System Engineering). The SEBoK is a guide to the knowledge that constitutes the systems engineering domain, while GRCSE “describes a program for a professional master’s degree focused on developing student ability to perform systems engineering tasks and roles” (Pyster et al. 2012).
An educator, for purposes of this use case, is a university faculty member or a professional trainer. Educators use the SEBoK and the GRCSE to develop curricula or courses focused on systems engineering (SE) generally, on domain-centric systems engineering, or on another engineering discipline that touches on SE. The SEBoK and GRCSE are means to assure accuracy, completeness, and effective assessment at all levels, from lessons through objectives.
A researcher, for purposes of this use case, is a person actively contributing to the body of SE knowledge.
The Use of Topics
Educators can use SEBOK topics and their primary and additional references as:
- assigned readings for courses,
- supplemental references for student research, and
- content for curriculum development.
Educators can also use the concepts, perspectives, and references to develop or refine course objectives and the techniques for assessing them.
Researchers can use SEBoK topics and their primary and additional references to learn about the state of the art in the subject areas of interest, for summaries of the literature, and to look for opportunities to advance those areas by further research.
A good course or research topic should reflect multiple perspectives, which the SEBoK provides. As well, cataloging the wide diversity in accepted practices across SE is an important function of the SEBoK from the researcher's perspective.
For both educators and researchers, the fact that the SEBoK provides both primary and additional references in each topic is useful. So is the fact that the SEBoK is a wiki, which allows frequent updates to keep pace with the dynamic evolution of the systems engineering domain. See Acknowledgements and Release History.
Good examples make for good teaching. The Systems Engineering Implementation Examples in the SEBoK consist of relatively in-depth case studies and shorter examples, which are linked back to appropriate areas of the SEBoK. A matrix shows which SEBoK topics are addressed by each case study or vignette.
Each case study in the SEBoK is actually a summary of an original case found in the SE literature, and is accompanied by a reference to the full, published case study. Case study summaries or examples from the SEBoK may be incorporated in curricula.
University faculty may use the SEBoK and GRCSE to develop:
- a complete SE curriculum,
- a single course in systems engineering, either for use in an SE curriculum, or in a curriculum that belongs to some other discipline, or
- assessment criteria for curricula or courses.
Likewise, professional trainers use the SEBoK to develop training material, or to evaluate or update existing training courses.
Both faculty and trainers pursue professional development, in the form of SE study, using the SEBoK.
Vignette: Curriculum and Course Development
A university designates a faculty team to investigate the feasibility of developing a graduate degree in SE.
Results of preliminary feasibility analysis (including evaluating the market, competing degree programs, and so on) are encouraging. The faculty team then begins to design the program, by identifying:
- program constituents
- potential objectives, outcomes and entrance requirements, based on review of GRCSE
- one half of the curriculum content based on review of the typical curriculum architecture (GRCSE chapter 5) and the core body of knowledge (CorBoK) (chapter 6) of GRCSE and
- the other half of the curriculum content based on review of the SEBoK (Parts 2 through 7) .
According to the GRCSE, 50% of the total knowledge conveyed in a graduate program should be based on the CorBoK, to ensure a common foundation among programs offered at different institutions. At the same time, restricting the CorBoK to no more than 50% encourages a healthy variety in those programs.
Once these steps are complete, the overall architecture and the content and scope of the curriculum are defined. Now the faculty designs the courses themselves, defining in turn:
- the prerequisites for each course
- the overall course sequencing for the curriculum, based on the course prerequisites
- the objectives and goals for each course and
- the expected outcomes of each course.
Finally, the faculty is ready to develop the content for each individual course.
Defining course content is done based on topics in the SEBoK that cover the subject of the course.
Using primary and additional references as much as the topics themselves, the faculty responsible for course design define:
- the scope of the course content
- the course coverage, that is, what within the course content scope is actually taught in the course.
Given the scope and coverage, the next and final step is to develop the course material.
A professional trainer designing the training material performs the same kinds of activities. To customize the training course for a specific industry or customer, the trainer may integrate domain-specific content as well.
Researchers use SEBoK topics and their primary and additional references to learn about the state of the art in the subject areas of topics, and to look for opportunities to advance those areas by further research.
Vignette: Software Engineering Research
William McGregor, a software engineer, wants to learn more about software intensive systems (SIS). Initially, William wants to answer the question: Do the activities and practices used to develop SIS represent special treatments of standard activities and practices?
William has already reviewed the SWEBoK and its primary references extensively for an answer to his question. In the course of his research, William learns about the SEBoK and decides to look there, too.
William finds no specific discussion of the SIS within the SEBoK. As he looks through the SEBoK, though, he realizes that there are activities throughout the system development life cycle which can be adapted or customized for the development of SIS. Accordingly, William decides to replace his original question with two new ones: (a) what best practices are applied throughout the software development life cycle and (b) how can those practices be adapted to SIS?
William now focuses on Part 3 to learn about the system development life cycle and identify development activities and practices that he can customize for software intensive systems.
Educators use the SEBoK as a framework or a resource which helps them:
- determine what subject matter should be included in a new curriculum
- identify gaps in an existing curriculum and craft plans to address those gaps, and
- design individual courses.
The case studies and vignettes in the SEBoK may be used by educators in the classroom.
To develop curricula at the program level, educators should use the SEBoK in tandem with the GRCSE.
Researchers use the SEBoK to learn about the state of the systems engineering discipline, and to look for opportunities to advance that state by further research.
Bloom, B.S., M.D. Engelhart, E.J. Furst, W.H. Hill, and D.R. Krathwohl. 1956. Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: The Classification of Educational Goals. Handbook I: Cognitive Domain. London, UK: Longman Group Ltd.
Pyster, A., D.H. Olwell, T.L.J. Ferris, N. Hutchison, S. Enck, J.F. Anthony, D. Henry, and A. Squires. Eds. 2015. Graduate Reference Curriculum for Systems Engineering (GRCSE™), version 1.1. Hoboken, NJ, USA: The Trustees of the Stevens Institute of Technology ©2015. Available at: http://www.bkcase.org/grcse-2/.