Effective solutions to problems involving both society and technology must be based on a broad systems point-of-view. Not only must the overall technical factors of these problems be carefully considered, but the economic, social, human and political parameters must be given equally careful attention. When large scale engineering problems are under study, few people can be knowledgeable of the complete span of factors and parameters which must be considered. For these cases, solutions must be arrived at by interdisciplinary teams where each member contributes his or her own special expertise. In order to work effectively on this team, each member needs to be aware of the fundamental systems and design aspects of the problem. The rapid growth and complexity of industry have, indeed, created unusual problems; however, underlying the complexities of modern civilization and technology are similarities which make it possible to approach problems in many diverse fields with essentially the same concepts, theories and techniques. Systems science has emerged as a scientific discipline for quantitative analysis, design and control of large classes of problems in engineering and social sciences.
The undergraduate program in Systems Design Engineering at Waterloo is a study of those basic skills required for system analysis, simulation, optimization and design. Numerous examples may be cited where these systems design fundamentals may be applied: transportation, engineering design, computer applications, water resources engineering, production, planning and scheduling, environmental pollution, education. Of course the importance of specialized expertise in these areas should not be minimized, but these skills usually work most effectively toward problem solutions when operating within an overall systems context.
The Engineering Profession
Systems Design Engineering is a unique engineering discipline which is formally accredited by the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB). With two years of work experience beyond graduation (BASc)1, the Systems Design Engineer may apply for registration as a Professional Engineer. If a Masters degree (MASc)2 in Systems Design is also obtained, only one year of work experience is required before application.
Each province within Canada has its own Professional Engineering Association. The Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB) is a national organization that has representation from all of the Provincial Professional Engineering Associations. The CEAB determines what types of courses must be contained in a university engineering program in order for the program to meet the standards of Canadian engineering. The Systems Design Engineering program satisfies the strict standards of the CEAB and is therefore acknowledged as a fully qualified Engineering Program. In fact, the Department of Systems Design Engineering at the University of Waterloo is the only department of its kind in all of Canada.
The Systems Design Engineering program is specifically oriented towards developing graduates who can solve problems lying at the interface of technology and the human environment. Therefore, if you are technically oriented and also have a strong parallel interest in social and human problems, Systems Design Engineering may be the right program for you.
The Department of Systems Design Engineering also offers programs leading to MASc and PhD3 degrees, and in the past many Systems Design Engineering students have gone on to complete graduate degrees. The faculty members of the Department are involved in a wide spectrum of research activities such as conflict analysis, pattern recognition, ergonomics, computer engineering, and solar energy. Students who also wish to do research in one of these areas may start at the undergraduate level by entering the combined Bachelor's - Master's program at the end of their 3B academic term. In this way they will be able to complete a Master's degree within one year after receiving their Bachelor's degree.
The Systems Design Engineering program is quite challenging. It is not easy to acquire the tools for resolving the problems of complex systems. Moreover, these tools are becoming more and more sophisticated. Thus, the average student in Systems Design Engineering is expected to work at least 50 hours per week as he or she increases in awareness of the theories of human communication, makes progress in the areas of Systems Theory, Human Systems Engineering, and Socio-Economic Systems, and absorbs the implications of the tremendous growth of electronic computing systems.
High School Liaison Officer
Department of Systems Design Engineering
University of Waterloo
Waterloo, Ontario, N2L 3G1
(519) 885-1211, Ext. 3182 or Ext. 2600
1 BASc Bachelor of Applied Science
2 MASc Master of Applied Science
3 PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Graduates of Systems Design Engineering will find employment opportunities in a number of diverse fields. To some extent, the technical elective area chosen by the student in the third and fourth year determines more specifically what he or she does upon graduation. Some particular types of jobs which Systems Design engineers may be involved with include:
These types of professional activities may fall within the domain of one or more engineering disciplines such as chemical, civil (e.g. structural, water resource and transportation systems), electrical (e.g. circuit design and microprocessor applications), mechanical (e.g. energy conversion and design of machines), environmental (e.g. environmental impact assessment and planning), industrial and human engineering.
Undergraduate Curriculum in Systems Design Engineering
The Undergraduate program in Systems Design Engineering encompasses a study of the basic skills required for systems analysis, simulation, optimization and design. In particular the first three years of the program are intended to provide each student with a broad background and capability in the areas of:
These first three years of the program are followed by one year in which the problem solving capabilities of the student are applied with emphasis in one particular area of technology. This provides the required background for a future year of advanced study to the MASc degree, or for a rewarding career in industry or government with the Bachelor's degree (BASc).
Complementary Studies Electives
Five courses must be chosen to satisfy the Complementary Studies requirements.
Systems Design Engineering Undergraduate Core Curriculum (Listed by Terms)
Technical Electives in Systems Design Engineering
Each undergraduate student in Systems Design Engineering must choose a technical elective package by the 3B term.
Additionally, the Faculty of Engineering has approved Options in the following areas:
International Studies in Engineering
Society, Technology and Values
Students who complete the requirements of these designated Options will receive a final academic transcript from the University with a statement that the Option has been successfully completed. Students should refer to the earlier section, "Complementary Studies Requirements, Options and Electives for Engineering students" for further information. Details for Management Sciences and Computer Engineering Options for Systems Design Engineering students are included at the end of this section.
The Department of Systems Design Engineering offers a wide variety of technical elective courses in the third and fourth year. Students are encouraged to design their own elective programs to develop expertise in their particular interest area. Courses may be chosen from other departments as well as from Systems Design Engineering, subject to the approval of the undergraduate advisor.
The Department has identified four technical elective areas within its current offerings. In each area students may want to consider courses from other departments to complement their choices within Systems Design Engineering. Additional information may be obtained from the Undergraduate Associate Chair and faculty advisors. Six technical and four Complementary Studies Electives are required during the final three terms (3B, 4A and 4B). Students may arrange the sequencing of the elective slots to suit their program. Additional electives may be taken with the approval of the Undergraduate Associate Chair.
Many of the courses within the four departmental technical elective areas can be used as credits towards the various Faculty of Engineering Option programs. Moreover, students may find it possible to arrange their electives in such a way as to complete the requirements for more than one faculty Option as well as a departmental technical elective area. To do this, students with sufficiently high grades are encouraged, subject to approval from the Undergraduate Associate Chair, to supplement their programs through extra courses or courses taken by distance education or at other universities during work terms.
Human Systems Engineering
The elective package in Human Systems Engineering offers students the opportunity to develop knowledge and skills applicable to the design and analysis of systems that interact closely with human beings. The Department offers a selection of courses in the areas of human factors engineering and ergonomics, occupational safety, and biomedical engineering. Courses in engineering, psychology and physiological modelling provide an overview of human characteristics, abilities, and limits. Application-oriented courses show how this information can be applied in the design of interactive systems, in biomedical and clinical systems, and in the industrial workplace. In addition, students are encouraged to select other courses which complement and strengthen their chosen field of study. These might include courses in statistics and experimental design, perception and pattern recognition, physiology and kinesiology, or psychology. The elective courses in this package are as follows:
The Intelligent Systems elective package provides a theoretical and methodological framework for the study of RInformation EngineeringS, an emerging field that includes artificial intelligence, robotics, communication, RsmartS machines, and human-computer symbiosis. The systems-oriented approach emphasizes pattern analysis, since the recognition and classification of patterns is central to both human and machine intelligence, as well as finding application in many subfields of engineering. Courses in artificial perception (Image Processing) and artificial reasoning (Machine Intelligence) provide focused views in key application areas. The intelligent systems field provides one of the richest environments in which to acquire the familiarity with algorithms and data structures essential for disciplined software system design. Elective courses in this package are as follows:
Societal and Environmental Systems
When analysing, operating or designing a complex engineering project, a variety of interactions with the natural and social environment must be considered. Within this package are courses which present the methods and techniques for formally studying societal and environmental systems from an engineering perspective. Specifically, the courses are to provide a strong background in probability and statistics, economics, mathematical modelling (deterministic and stochastic) and decision methodologies. Additional experience is gained by doing related workshop projects.
Interested students may wish to include the Designated Faculty Option in Environmental Engineering in their package. The courses in this elective package are:
Students may choose the remaining electives (two technical, four complementary) according to interest, subject to approval of the Undergraduate Advisor.
Alternatively, students may elect to design their own package by selecting an appropriate combination of six technical and five complementary courses from the course calendar. Relevant course headings include Systems Design, Chemical and Civil Engineering, Environmental and Resource Studies, Geography, Sociology, Political Science, Biology, Economics, and Society, Technology and Values. Elective courses in this package include:
Systems Modelling and Analysis
The Systems Modelling and Analysis elective package offers the student a selection of elective courses that encompasses the theory, methods and mathematics of engineering systems design. In modern engineering practice, a design engineer is increasingly confronted with complex projects involving a variety of interdisciplinary sub-systems. The engineer must understand the operation of each sub-system, and be able to integrate them together to achieve an efficient and appropriate solution to the overall problem. The Systems Modelling and Analysis elective package introduces modelling and analysis of deterministic and probabilistic systems, as well as discrete and distributed parameter systems. The courses comprising the elective package emphasize analytical as well as computer based methods; the use of currently available computer aided analysis and design packages are encouraged.
The elective package structure is such that the students enrolled in this elective package can take additional courses, possibly from other departments, in order to specialize in any specific engineering discipline and at the same time obtain a strong systems modelling and design foundation. The elective courses for this package are as follows:
Option in Management Sciences
This option consists of a mixture of courses, some of which are technical in nature, and some of which qualify as complementary studies courses. It is intended for students interested in the issues, concepts and techniques related to managerial problems, particularly in technologically-based organizations. The courses in the option, in addition to Systems Design Engineering core courses, are:
any three of the following:
Option in Computer Engineering
The aim of this Option is to augment the core curriculum with technical elective courses from the Systems Design Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Computer Science departments so that students can acquire a strong background in both hardware and software aspects of computer systems. The focus is on software development, computer interface design and applications.
In addition to the Systems Design core courses which are mandatory for this Option, the following technical electives are required:
Information regarding all other faculty approved options is available at the beginning of this chapter.
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