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What is System Engineering?-什么是系统工程?(中英对照) 精选

已有 9647 次阅读 2010-3-6 23:40 |系统分类:教学心得

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Modern civilization has created increasingly complex projects, institutions, and mechanisms for human needs. Examples are:
1.      National wide electric grid (or even the so-called smart grid) that distributes reliable and inexpensive power to every user, industrial or individual.
2.      World wide communication network such as the Internet
3.      Space exploration such as the Apollo moon landing and the Mars Rover project
4.      Global economic and financial systems
5.      Large scale military operations
6.      Others too many to mention, e.g., paper processing bureaucracies of insurance and tax collection, The GPS system, etc.
Design, testing/verification, operation, and maintenance of such systems belong in the realm of System Engineering. Thus,
•       what constitute System Engineering?
•       Or more appropriately how do you train a system engineer?
Books have been written on the subject, courses are taught in universities, and occasionally even academic department has been established and then vanished. The Chinese Academy of Sciences has a Mathematic and Systems Science Institute which just celebrated its 30th anniversary of establishment in 2009. And one of the foremost Chinese Scientist, H.S. Tsien钱学森, is an early proponent of system engineering. His achievements of两弹一星 in Chinese aerospace are well known.
What are examples of system engineers? A simple example easily understood even without scientific knowledge is an Architect/General-contractor in the design and construction of an office building. S/he must be an artist with appreciation of form and beauty, knowledgeable about material science and engineering technology, economically and financially savvy, and finally excellent manager of different kinds of people who must actually build the structure. Similarly, designing, testing, operating, and maintaining a modern international airport is another example. A definition I like is that a system engineer is a specialist in the general -专业的通用人材 . 
Among the four skills - designing, testing, operating, and maintaining – Design is first among equals. It not only includes planning, optimizing, and constraints satisfaction but also the tasks of design for ease of manufacturing, testing, and maintenance. In other words, if the system is designed correctly to start with, then building, operating, and maintaining it should be less troublesome.
How should student of system engineering be trained? Here are my personal views. The student should have an undergraduate or master degree in one scientific/engineering discipline so that s/he can claim some “depth” in one branch of science and technology. Then s/he should obtain a master degree in system engineering taking a majority of courses from the following list:
•       Probability and Stochastic processes
•       Linear algebra and systems theory
•       Abstract algebra and combinatorics
•       Feedback and optimal control
•       Computer science fundamentals – data base and mining, pattern recognition, computational intelligence, verification theory
•       Signal and information theory
•       Decision analysis, queuing systems, mathematical programming
•       Optimization theory and Heuristics
This is what might be considered as the “breadth” part of system engineering. Taken together, the “breadth” and “depth” constitute a “T” structure of knowledge. Finally, real world experience on a system engineering project will complete his/her experience (I view practical training more important than a master thesis in system engineering) .
Finally, as a humorous aside, one can add to the above six word definition of system engineer the phrase “ . . . who ignore minor details and inaccuracies as s/he sweeps forward to a grand fallacy”. One should never get carried away by a top-down approach to scientific endeavors without firm grounding in fundamentals and foundations.
It also occurs to me that to be successful and comfortable in this increasingly complex and globalized world, each of us needs to become a system engineer and be a “jack of all trades and master of at least one”.
                                    什么是系统工程?


为满足人类需要,现代文明创造了日益复杂的工程、机构和装置,例如:
1. 向所有个人或工业用户提供稳定及廉价电源的全国电网系统(亦称“智能电网”)
2. 全世界范围的通信网络,如互联网
3. 太空勘测工程,如阿波罗登月计划和火星探测计划
4. 全球经济与金融体系
5. 大规模军事行动
6. 其他不胜枚举的例子, 如:税收系统、全球定位系统等

对这些系统的设计、测试/验证、运行和维护都属于系统工程的范畴。由此引出两个问题,即:
• 系统工程由什么构成?
• 如何更好地培养系统工程师?

关于系统工程这门学科的书很多,大学开设的课程也不少,甚至还成立了专门的学术机构,例如,中科院早在1979年便成立了数学与系统科学研究所。钱学森教授是研究系统工程的先驱,他的研究成果“两弹一星”举世闻名。

到底什么才算是系统工程师呢?一个简单的例子就是为办公大楼进行设计及建造的建筑师或总承包商。他必须具有艺术家的审美能力,具备材料工程和工程技术的相关知识,懂得经营和理财,并善于管理不同的建筑人员。同样,对某个国际机场进行设计、测试/验证、运行和维护的人员也属于系统工程师。“系统工程师是专业的通用人才”---- 我认为这个定义比较中肯。

在设计、测试/验证、运行和维护四项技能中,设计最为重要。它不仅包括制定规划,实现最优化和约束满足,也包括为便于测试、运行和维护所做的设计。换句话说,如果某个系统一开始便设计得当,那么系统的运行和维护等后续工作将会很顺利。

如何将学生培养为系统工程师呢?我个人认为,首先,这位学生应取得某个科学或工程类学科的学士或硕士学位,以便在某个科技领域的研究上具有一定深度;然后,要通过学习以下大部分课程取得系统工程方面的硕士学位,这些课程包括:
• 概率论与随机过程
• 线性代数与系统理论
• 抽象代数和组合
• 反馈与最优控制
• 计算机科学基础 - 数据库和数据挖掘,模式识别,智能计算,验证理论
• 信号与信息理论
• 决策分析,排队系统,数学规划
• 优化理论和启发式研究

这些可以称为系统工程知识的宽度。既深又宽便构成T形知识结构。最后应当具备某个系统工程项目的实践经验。(我认为对系统工程学而言,实践比硕士论文更重要)。

最后,我们不妨再给系统工程师的定义加上这么一句幽默的说法:“……他们忽视小的细节与错误,却迈向一个大的谬误”。要切记的是,不要因为科学研究遵循自上而下的方法,而忽视对坚实的基础知识的掌握。

我也认为,要在日益复杂和全球化的世界中有所成就,我们每个人都需要成为一名系统工程师,即成为“学有专攻的万事通”。

(科学网 苑林琳/翻译)


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