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Industry is increasingly struggling to find systems engineers Inaugural lecture Professor Maarten Bonnema

The professional sector has a pressing need for systems engineers. However, it is widely understood that in order to become a systems engineer, a person needs multiple years of experience in the industry in question. The profession also requires a number of competencies such as the ability to overcome insecurity and being able to communicate with various types of people, including techies, marketeers, project managers and others. As a result, the industry is increasingly struggling to find systems engineers. Professor Bonnema (Faculty Of Engineering Technology) is advocating for higher ‘production’ within this discipline. On 23 November 2023, Professor Bonnema will be giving his inaugural lecture. 

The Dutch industry is extremely good at developing complex systems. Some examples of companies within the sector are ASML, Thales, VMI and Canon Production Printing. A crucial element in these development processes is the coordination and integration of the subsystems. This discipline is called systems engineering.

SEMD chair

“In the Systems Engineering & Multidisciplinary Design chair (SEMD), we are working in three areas to reduce the lack of systems engineers. We want to make systems engineers already working in the field more productive, and ensure that newly-graduated engineers are more productive at a faster pace. We also want to ensure that the discipline remains appealing and introduce more systems engineers to the labour market.”

The best job

“We are committed to training people in the wonderful profession of systems engineer, which CNN Money called ‘the best job’ back in 2009.” “I can only agree”, says Bonnema. [A1] “We train our students within the various UT Bachelor’s programmes, such as Industrial Design Engineering, IDE, Mechanical Engineering ME and Electrical Engineering EE, as well as in all UT Engineering Doctorate programmes, and training courses for companies.”

Systems engineering process

“How does the systems engineering process work? Which tools are available to us? And how does a systems engineer ‘think through the system’? When it comes to tools, we emphasise simple tools such as the N2 diagram and the 9-window diagram. In addition, the A3 Architecture Overviews (A3AOs) and FunKey architecting, both developed in the group, also belong in the toolbox of a systems engineer.”

Thinking through the system

‘Thinking through the system’ is often called Systems Thinking. “As it turns out, it is easier to describe what an experienced systems thinker does, than to help someone get started in this process. I helped develop the ‘12 Thinking Tracks’, which have turned out be a good start. Even experienced systems engineers benefit from their use, as they have noticed that the result is a common language for considering the system as a whole.”

“We apply the UT approach in various fields, including high-tech, the energy transition, the switch to electric transport, in the medical community and in the production of consumer products.”

Kick-off Systems Engineering Knowledge Centre Twente (SEKCT)

Prior to the inaugural lecture, the kick-off for the Systems Engineering Knowledge Centre Twente (SEKTC) will take place. Maarten Bonnema and Robin de Graaf set up SEKCT as a one-stop shop for fast-tracking industry players’ search for SE experts within UT.

Additional cooperative efforts between ASML and UT

Together with the SEKCT, Bonnema’s chair is currently already providing Systems Engineering training courses to ASML. On 23 November, UT and ASML will be signing a Letter of Intent to further expand these training courses on three levels: beginner, intermediate and expert. These three training courses will be available to a large number of ASML staff, further boosting the SE expertise within ASML.

Additional information

The Rector Magnificus is pleased to announce that the Executive Board has appointed Professor Maarten Bonnema Professor of Systems Engineering & Multidisciplinary Design at the Faculty of Engineering Technology, and that he will give an inaugural lecture in this context at Waaier 2 of the Waaier building on Thursday 23 November 2023 at 16.00.

The title of this lecture will be: “COMPLEX TASK-SIMPLE TOOLS”.
The lecture will be in English.
Photo: Roelie Joekema and Jos Benschop (ASML), Bart Koopman and Maarten Bonnema (UT).

drs. J.G.M. van den Elshout (Janneke)
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