Spirit of the Seminar
In establishing the Engineering Systems Division, MIT has embarked on a bold experiment – bringing together diverse areas of expertise into what is designed to be a new field of study. In many respects, the full scale and scope of Engineering Systems as a field is still emerging. This seminar is simultaneously designed to codify what we presently know and to give direction for future development. In this spirit, the entire syllabus should be viewed as a living document – subject to adjustment based on student and faculty input throughout the term.
While certain topics, readings and guests change from year to year in ESD.83, the focus across a broad range of topics in Engineering Systems remains the same. Throughout the term, faculty from ESD and other parts of MIT will be sitting in – either as invited guests or just as interested colleagues. We will give priority to comments from students, but also be sure to tap the wisdom of those who are sitting in.
Readings will come from a broad range of sources. Nonetheless, we suggest that students have familiarity with ESD symposia papers generated over the years.
The overriding top level objectives are two–fold:
- Increasing student understanding of research in complex systems so as to allow them to develop a framework for further learning about how to do research.
- Fostering a wide understanding of the knowledge content in engineering systems so that the students begin to establish a structure for learning more about the broad front of knowledge that is termed Engineering Systems.
At a more detailed level, the learning objectives are:
- Basic Literacy: Understanding of core concepts and principles – base level of literacy on the various aspects of engineering systems (ES).
- Inter–disciplinary Capability: The capability to reach out to adjacent fields in a respectful and knowledgeable way and the ability to engage with other ES scholars in assessing the importance to ES of new findings in related fields.
- Historical Roots: Understanding of historical/intellectual roots of key concepts and principles in engineering systems.
- ES and Observations, Data Sources and Data Reduction: An appreciation of the importance of empirical study to cumulative science and its difficulty in complex socio–technical systems.
- Critical Analysis: Ability to critically assess research and scholarship aimed at furthering knowledge in engineering systems; development of defendable point of view of important contributing disciplines in the ES field.
- Links Across Domains and Methods: Ability to identify links/connections across different fundamental domains and methods relevant to ES.
- Scholarly Skills: 1) The ability to write a professional–level critical book review; 2) a beginning level ability to develop and write a research proposal in the ES field; 3) the ability to present and lecture on critical analysis of material that one is not previously familiar with; 4) developing wider reading skills and habits.