9: School of Graduate Engineering and Applied Science

General Information | Degree Programs | Program Descriptions | Course Descriptions | Faculty

Programs in Applied Mathematics | Department of Biomedical Engineering
Department of Chemical Engineering | Department of Civil Engineering
Department of Computer Science | Department of Electrical Engineering
Engineering Physics Program | Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering | Department of Systems Engineering

Department of Systems Engineering

Systems Engineers design and implement process, product, and operational improvements in large-scale, complex collections of humans and machines. These collections are systems organized around a central purpose, such as transportation, manufacturing, communication, and environmental protection. The improvements to these systems can target any phase of the life-cycle from requirements analysis through operation, maintenance, and retirement/replacement.

The central insight in systems engineering is that the analytical techniques for process and product improvement extend across applications. For example, the techniques used to improve communications routing also apply to transportation routing and material handling in manufacturing. The formal disciplines which underlie these techniques constitute the basis for education and training in systems engineering.

The Department of Systems Engineering provides instruction and conducts research in the two major disciplines that run across all applications: systems design and systems analysis. Systems design encompasses goal-setting and the formulation of policies and plans to accomplish the goals. Systems analysis involves those functions necessary to ensure the successful accomplishment of the specified plans and policies.

Students in the M.E. and M.S. programs learn the foundations of both systems analysis and systems design. The M.E. students apply this knowledge to case studies, while the M.S. students apply their knowledge to a more focused research project leading to the defense of an M.S. thesis. In either case, opportunities exist for specializing in one of seven applications areas: intelligent decision systems; manufacturing; communications systems; environmental systems; systems management; transportation; and risk assessment and management.

Ph.D. students have the opportunity to contribute to fundamental knowledge in systems engineering. These students explore issues in theoretical and methodological optimization; combinatorial optimization, heuristic search; machine learning; artificial systems; information technology; statistical process control; time series analysis and forecasting; risk and reliability modeling; queuing theory; neural networks; and control theory.

Both M.S. and Ph.D. students typically associate with an ongoing research project in the department. These projects involve both applied and theoretical elements and allow students to work closely with faculty on challenging, contemporary problems. Examples of current research projects include: intelligent transportation systems; multi-sensor data fusion; locational analysis and geographic information systems; expert systems for diagnosis and classification; forecast decision systems; human-computer interaction through eyegaze; neural network optimization; risk management of engineering and environmental systems; control of discrete event systems; and quality control.

A part-time program is available through the Virginia Cooperative Graduate Engineering Program. Regular courses are broadcast via satellite, which offers an employed engineer the opportunity to work toward a master's degree while requiring a minimum of absence from work. It is designed so that over a three-year period, a minimum of two-thirds, and possibly all, of the Master's of Engineering degree requirements may be completed through course work taken in the late afternoon and early evening. These courses are also available to those who wish to increase their knowledge of Systems Engineering but do not desire to enroll in a formal degree program.

A brochure describing details of the graduate program is available from the Institute's office upon request.


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