What is a Systems Engineer?, that is the question that i asked myself many years ago when i got my degree as a systems engineer.
Common thinking in Colombia considers that a systems engineer is an engineer in charge of a company's network or one that develops personalized software by user request, or that person capable of manipulate with some degree of knowledge, specific apps, as for example ofimatic software packages like MsOffice or programming languages like Visual Basic, Delphi or so.
It is a common practice to measure the quality of a systems engineer by its knowledge of such especific applications and most of them struggle to obtain certifications from major programming language, operating systems or network appliances vendors. This is the way a systems engineer can gain not also specific computer related knowledge but in some cases salary improvements in the corporative environment.
This was and still is, the panorama i found when started my professional life as engineer, so i asked many closely related colleagues and they had the same confusion with their career prospectus, so i started my own search for an answer to the question.
Few clicks later and after some search on internet search engines i came up with this definition of a systems engineer (abstract): “The technological application of the theory of systems to engineering efforts, applying the systems paradigm; the systems engineering deal with abstract systems with the help of sytems science methodologies”. The definition of systems engineering even encloses things such “chaotic systems”, “soft systems methodology”, etc.
Given this definition a systems engineer not only creates software and deals with network issues, its role is far more complex and interesting than common beliefs of the community; a systems engineer is more like a problem solver engineer using the theory of systems an interdisciplinary work with other engineers and even scientifics.
This leads to the conclusion that the term systems engineer is not the most adequate to describe the functions of most colombian systems engineers; in this case what we know here as systems engineering is most related to sofware engineering or computer science engineering in other countries.
However some universities provide to their students all the necessary tools to become real systems engineers, by giving them lectures and courses in computer algebra, dinamic systems, high mathematics, and so on. This is because those universites started their programs many years ago in the dawn of the systems science in Latin America, back in the 60's and 70's.
It is necessary a clear definition of the profiles of software engineers vs computer science engineers and systems engineers, this will give to each one of those careers the real value they deserve,also these definitions will provide to the corporate environment better trained engineers and will allow them to define which profiles they require with more precission.
Check http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ingeniería_de_sistemas, for more.
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