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New student group opens doors to careers in systems engineering

ASU systems engineering group
January 26, 2012

Systems engineering combines expertise in industrial engineering and control engineering with organizational and project management.

Its practitioners are skilled in the design and management of complex engineering projects, involving knowledge of logistics, work-process and project-team coordination, and automatic control of machinery.

Arizona State University students can delve into the field beyond their classroom studies through a student division of the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE).

“We connect students with the systems engineering resources available outside of the university,” says Eric Luster, INCOSE at ASU president and doctoral student in the computer science program in the School of Computing, Informatics and Decision Systems Engineering.

Luster helped in the effort to establish the group in December 2010. The group offers students opportunities to network with system engineering professionals and get hands-on experience.

“We have contacts in different industries, and we can recommend students for jobs and internships,” says Rafiu Mustapha, INCOSE at ASU communications director, who is pursuing a master’s degree with a concentration in systems engineering in ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

Student get full membership benefits in the regional professional INCOSE Central Arizona Chapter, which holds meetings jointly with the ASU student group.

“This relationship provides a ‘win-win’ situation,” says industrial engineering professor Dan Shunk, the faculty adviser for INCOSE at ASU. “Our students are getting first-hand feedback from practicing systems engineers.  The students benefit from the experiences of the professionals, and the working professionals get to stay current by tracking the students’ research projects.”

“Our industry members have already benefited from interaction with university students and faculty members,” says Joseph Marvin, the president of the INCOSE central Arizona chapter. “The student division of INCOSE opens up new perspectives for our regional chapter’s work.”

Students also benefit from Shunk’s expertise in systems engineering, particularly in global supply network integration, collaborative commerce and new-product development.  

About 50 students have participated in INCOSE at ASU meetings and events during the organization’s first year. They are predominantly industrial engineering, chemical engineering or computer science majors, but the organization is open to all ASU students.

INCOSE at ASU members have participated in international INCOSE conferences, which include workshops on applying systems engineering in a multitude of industries.  

Luster, for instance, participated in a conference workshop that focused on the contributions of systems engineers to the manufacture of medical devices – a topic relevant to his company’s work helping government agencies conduct research.

INCOSE at ASU has earned support from the Graduate and Professional Student Association through funding from the Graduate Student Organizations group at ASU. It has provided $2,000 to send more than 25 INCOSE student division members to the annual INCOSE International Workshop in the past two years.

INCOSE at ASU members are also coordinating an engineering competition for high school students that will be part of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering Open House in March.

Luster is the competition director and other members will mentor the high school teams.

For more information, see the International Council on Systems Engineering website and the websites of the Student Division of INCOSE at ASU and the INCOSE Central Arizona Chapter.

Written by Joe Kullman and Natalie Pierce