An autonomous mobile robot, the hybrid electric propulsion system in an automobile, vision systems in automated manufacturing operations, the flight control system in a fly-by-wire aircraft, management systems supporting advanced product design and manufacture, the thermo-regulatory and metabolic systems in humans, and the ecosystem of a river are all examples of a system. These, and all systems, are an amalgamation of elements or components that interact, or are interdependent.
In many cases, real-world systems are a complex combination of elements and, often, their behaviour is time varying, or dynamic. Systems Engineers are employed in the analysis, design, development and operation of systems. In contrast to experts in the traditional engineering disciplines, they take a holistic view of complex problems and proposed technological solutions, including relevant factors in the surrounding environment and / or the whole product life cycle.
Many Systems Engineers will be engaged in applying modelling and analytical techniques, supported by computational tools, to decision making and problem solving, and to refining and testing new design concepts. Some Systems Engineers will lead a team of experts from the traditional engineering disciplines in working together on projects involving economic, environmental, human and technical considerations. Others will act as technical consultants to senior management in support of strategic planning.