Saturday, December 05, 2009

Who is your hero systems engineer?

These days, I‘m inquiring about engineering. I‘d like to know who your hero systems engineer was or is (or will be?). Please comment, or send me a twitter message. Thank you!

Thank you again for making it past the first paragraph. ;-) It all started when a couple of weeks ago I again was confronted with a colleague‘s opinion which said that I am a theorist. I refuse this opinion vehemently; quite the contrary, I believe my work, especially my work for the company, is a paragon of pragmatism. ;-)
So my argument against the opinion usually is ,no, I‘m not a theorist!', in a more or less agitated voice. Obviously, I need a better basis for making that point. Kurt Lewin said:
Nothing is a s practical as a good theory.
I used this sentence for a while as a footer for email that I suspected to raise the ,theorist‘ criticism again.
After all this sentence is only a claim as well, just like my stubborn phrase above. It may be stronger because it carries Lewin‘s weight. Unfortunately very few people instantly know who Kurt Lewin was, and that he most of all used experience - not theory - to advance humankind.

Then a friend of mine, a U. S. citizen who at some point in time chose to live in Norway (which is a very practical move in my eyes :-), pointed me to the work of Billy V. Koen, Professor for Mechanical Engineering at the University of Texas. You should watch this 1 hour movie if you are least interested in engineering, philosophy and art. Or in more mundane things like best practices, methods, techniques, recipes, and checklists, many of which concerning business analysis and project management can be found at Planet Project in case you don‘t know.

Here is Prof. Koen‘s definition of engineering from the movie:
The Engineering Method (Design) is the use of heuristics to cause the best change in an uncertain situation within the available resources.
Causing change in an uncertain situation within the available resources sounds a lot like project management to me. Like program or portfolio management, too. Maybe like management in general.

It is always when an improbable connection opens up between two different fields of my thinking when I find there is useful truth in it. Next, I want to learn about engineering and me, and one way to approach this is to find out who I admire for his or her engineering skills. I tried thinking of a couple of candidate names and found surprisingly few. I‘ve already identified Leonardo Da Vinci (who is not a Dan Brown invention like my nephew once suggested. :-) A quick request to the twitterverse offered nothing, no new name.

So this is my next take: I‘d like to know who your hero systems engineer was or is (or will be?), and why. Please comment, or send me a (twitter) message. Thank you!

1 comment:

TomG said...

my systems engineer hero?
da Vinci is great first choice,
Philip M'Pherson has been a practitioner, educator and
intellectual leader in systems engineering for over 45 years, and
an early and inspirational member of the UK Chapter of INCOSE.
His appreciation for precise mathematical modelling in system
design influenced submarine design for decades to follow. As
Professor of Systems Science at City University in London, he set
up the Department of Systems Science in 1972 - his knowledge,
School of Engineering
Cranfield University
Bedford, MK43 0AL
UK. is very interesting

Gerrit Muller now Kongsberg Norway
more into Architecture, but actually professor at NOrways first SE University.