Master’s of Science: Systems Engineering

The Systems Engineering (SE) Program at UMBC is designed to accelerate the development of systems engineers by providing practical experience that can be immediately applied on the job. Students learn from industry experts how to develop operable systems that meet customer requirements, while successfully navigating the complexities of system design.

Courses are developed and taught by senior systems engineers and address the entire systems engineering life cycle, including requirements analysis, systems architecture and design, modeling, simulation and analysis, and system implementation and test. Classes are held at convenient late afternoon or early evening times to meet the needs of working professionals.

The M.S. in SE program provides the broad background required for successful systems engineers in the 21st century.

Curriculum Overview

The core curriculum consists of six System Engineering courses, shown below, that equip students with the processes, techniques, and tools required to practice systems engineering. The elective portion of the program is structured so that students can tailor the courses to meet their specific needs.

  • The Master’s of Science in Systems Engineering program is a non-thesis program.
  • Students must earn 30 credit hours (approximately 10 courses).
  • The program has a CAPSTONE project course: SYST670: Systems Engineering Project. In the project course, students complete an industry-based SE project and write a related technical report.

By the end of this program, the student will be able to:

  • Apply the fundamental principles of systems engineering to manage the development of products.
  • Develop functional, physical, and operational architectures of a system or enterprise that meets user requirements.
  • Construct design specifications from user and system requirements.
  • Formulate modeling, simulation, and analysis techniques to solve systems engineering problems.
  • Develop and lead the system integration process.
  • Develop and lead the system verification process in an operational environment.
  • Apply effective leadership skills for multidisciplinary system engineering teams.

Required Core Courses (18 credits)

SYST 660: Systems Engineering Principles

The Systems Engineering Principles course provides an introduction to the discipline of Systems Engineering and Systems Architecting. Key industry standards for the “The Systems Engineering Process” are taught and used throughout the course. The course describes how the SE process is implemented in standard life cycle models and through various standard organizational structures. This course introduces Model-Based Systems Engineering concepts, e.g., DoDAF, UML, and SysML. System engineering technical process topics range from Requirements Definition through system Verification and Validation. System engineering management process topics include: Decision Analysis, Technical Planning, Risk Management, and Interface Management. The course also covers aspects of project management: Integrated Product Teams, technical performance measurement, earned value measurement, and work breakdown structures. Students will develop a requirements document, and an integrated architecture, and a System Engineering Plan (SEP). Homework and Exams are designed to provide the opportunity to practice the concepts learned in class.

SYST 661: System Architecture and Design

The System Architecture and Design course focuses on the role of the systems architect in the system development life cycle. In the operational analysis phase, the emphasis is on understanding the context of the system within the larger customer problem area, and the identification of requirements that influence system partitioning. In the functional analysis phase, the emphasis is on the dependencies between processing steps. In the architectural design phase, the emphasis is on partitioning the system into generic components, and ultimately instantiating them into physical components. A precision landing system is used throughout the course as a common case study. Within the classroom sessions, a search and rescue system is used. Three presentations by each group are given to simulate: (1) RFI review, (2) SRR, and (3) SDR. These reviews progressively reveal each group’s proposed solution to the precision landing system for a mythical country with unique complicating characteristics.

Prerequisite: SYST 660. SYST 660 may be taken concurrently with instructor permission.

SYST 662: Modeling, Simulation, and Analysis

The Modeling, Simulation, and Analysis (MS&A) course covers the use of modeling, simulation, and analysis in the development and test of systems. The course covers leading MS&A activities, architecting simulations, and making decisions based on statistical analysis of the simulation results. The techniques discussed in class are motivated through the use of examples. Typical modeling problems discussed include performance, cost, reliability, and maintainability modeling. Students will develop simple models and simulations using MATLAB and complete several course projects.

Prerequisites: SYST 660, SYST 669. The SYST 669 class requirement may be waived by passing the Mathematics and MATLAB Fundamentals Proficiency Exam. See the instructor for details.

SYST 663: System Implementation, Integration, and Test

The System Implementation, Integration, and Test course is a follow-on to SYST 661. The course covers the translation of design specifications into product elements, the integration of these elements into a system, and the verification that the resulting system performs as intended in its operational environment. The course follows the product development life cycle beyond system architecture and design. The system is decomposed into component level elements suitable for software coding and hardware fabrication. These elements are then individually tested and gradually integrated together as the various modules and sub-systems are subjected to unit test, verification and validation. Eventually the full system goes through Operational Test and Evaluation, and finally makes it into production and operation. This course covers the System Engineer role, activities and processes that are needed during this phase of the product development cycle. Areas of study will include technical planning, requirement & interface management, standards, technical performance measures, technical evaluation, technical readiness, implementation, integration, verification, validation, production, transition to operation and complexity.

Prerequisites: SYST 660 and SYST 661 or consent of instructor.

SYST 670: Systems Engineering Project

In this course, the student performs in an industry-based work environment on a SE project. The project spans the essential phases of the System Life Cycle and results in the development of a simulation model of the objective system. During the course of system development, engineering artifacts are created to substantiate system development. A final summary technical report summarizing the artifacts and simulation results are compiled in a form representative of a professional report in partial satisfaction of course requirements. Starting six weeks before the beginning of the semester, students form Integrated Product Teams, usually not exceeding 5 students per team. During the six weeks before the semester begins, the team prepares a proposal for the project that is submitted to the instructor for approval. The advisor may approve the project proposal, subject to adjustment, as needed. To increase the realism of the environment, an industry mentor may collaborate with the advisor during the periodic milestone reviews of the project.

Prerequisites: SYST 660, SYST 661, SYST 662 or SYST 669, SYST 663, or consent of instructor.

SYST 672: Decision and Risk Analysis

This course provides an overview of decision and risk analysis techniques. It focuses on how to make rational decisions in the presence of uncertainty and conflicting objectives. This course covers modeling uncertainty; rational decision-making principles; representing decision problems with value trees, decision trees, and influence diagrams; solving value hierarchies, decision trees, and influence diagrams; defining and calculating the value of information; incorporating risk attitudes into the analysis; and conducting sensitivity analysis. Students are expected to have an elementary understanding of probability theory.

SYST 669: Mathematics and MATLAB Fundamentals for Engineers

This 1-credit course provides an introduction to programming in MATLAB and a review of fundamental engineering mathematics, e.g., probability, calculus, linear algebra, ordinary differential equations, difference equations, and some numerical methods). It is designed to refresh students’ basic skills in these areas of mathematics and to establish basic proficiency in MATLAB. Course work focuses on developing MATLAB programs that use these mathematical techniques to solve simple problems of systems engineering interest. Prerequisites: Knowledge of a programming language.

The core courses are 3 credit hours each. Students who choose to take SYST 672 as part of our certificate program in Systems Engineering and are applying for a Master’s of Systems Engineering are required to take SYST 662 to meet the requirements for the Master’s degree.

SYST 662 has a prerequisite of either passing SYST 669 or testing out of the class. See the instructor for details.

Technical Breadth and Depth Electives (12 credits)

Students are urged to confer with the Systems Engineering Program Director for selection of elective courses to ensure that graduation requirements are met.

Technical Breadth Courses

Students may take up to nine (9) credits (typically 3 courses) of technical breadth courses. Example breadth courses include:

ENMG 668: Project and Systems Engineering Management

This course will cover fundamental project control and systems engineering management concepts, including how to plan, set up cost accounts, bid, staff and execute a project from a project control perspective. It provides an understanding of the critical relations and interconnections between project management and systems engineering management. It is designed to address how systems engineering management supports traditional program management activities to break down complex programs into manageable and assignable tasks.

ENMG 652: Management Leadership and Communications

Students learn effective management and communication skills through case study-analysis, reading, class discussion and role-playing. The course covers topics such as effective listening, setting expectations, delegation, coaching, performance, evaluations, conflict management, and negotiation with senior management and managing with integrity.

ENMG 664: Quality Engineering & Management

This first aspect of this course is focused on an overview of basic quality principles and applications from engineering and engineering management perspectives. Students will examine philosophies of key figures like Deming, Juran, and Crosby and discover the value of a variety of quality management approaches (Baldridge Performance Excellence, ISO, and Six Sigma/Lean Six Sigma, and others). The second aspect of the course will focus on discussion, analysis, and application of some of quantitative tools including: Pareto charts, measurement systems, design of experiments, statistical process control, and six-sigma methods. Students will apply these tools and methods to solve engineering and management problems. Reading assignments, homework, exams, and the final project/paper will emphasize the application of quality approaches, techniques, and problem solving. Note: Students in undergraduate engineering programs or graduate degree programs other than Systems Engineering or Engineering Management need permission from their academic advisor in order to apply this course to their respective degree programs. This course can be counted as either a management course or an engineering course for the M.S. in Engineering Management.

CYBR 620: Intro to Cybersecurity

This course introduces students to the interdisciplinary field of cybersecurity by discussing the evolution of information security into cybersecurity, cybersecurity theory, and the relationship of cybersecurity to nations, businesses, society, and people. Students will be exposed to multiple cybersecurity technologies, processes, and procedures, learn how to analyze the threats, vulnerabilities and risks present in these environments, and develop appropriate strategies to mitigate potential cybersecurity problems.

Prospective students who have earned the CISSP designation within the past 5 years may, if admitted, substitute another course for CYBR 620 “Introduction to Cybersecurity” in their first semester of the CYBR MPS program. Students should provide evidence of successful completion of the CISSP exam within that timeframe (such as a transcript or official documentation from the certifying authority) to UMBC as part of their application.

Prerequisite: Enrollment in the CYBR program or in at least the second semester of graduate study. Other students may be admitted with instructor permission.

CYBR 621: Cyber Warfare

This course addresses some of the unique and emerging policy, doctrine, strategy, and operational requirements of conducting cyber warfare at the nation-state level. It provides students with a unified battlespace perspective and enhances their ability to manage and develop operational systems and concepts in a manner that results in the integrated, controlled, and effective use of cyber assets in warfare.

Prerequisite: Enrollment in the CYBR program or in at least the second semester of graduate study. Other students may be admitted with instructor permission.

CYBR 622: Global Cyber Capabilities and Trends

This course focuses on four general areas of cyber capabilities and trends in the global community: the theory and practice of cybersecurity and cyberwar; cyber capabilities of nation-states as well as non-state actors; trends in cyber-related strategies and policies; and cyber-related challenges facing the U.S. government. The course concludes with a national cybersecurity policy exercise that helps demonstrate the challenges and complexities of the dynamic and global cybersecurity environment.

Prerequisite: Enrollment in the CYBR program or in at least the second semester of graduate study. Other students may be admitted with instructor permission.

CYBR 623: Cybersecurity Law & Policy

Students will be exposed to the national and international policy and legal considerations related to cybersecurity and cyberspace such as privacy, intellectual property, cybercrime, homeland security (i.e., critical infrastructure protection) and cyberwarfare, and the organizations involved in the formulation of such laws and policies. Broader technology issues also are discussed to demonstrate the interdisciplinary influences and concerns that must be addressed in developing or implementing effective national cybersecurity laws and policies.

Prerequisite: Enrollment in the CYBR program or in at least the second semester of graduate study. Other students may be admitted with instructor permission.

Technical Depth Courses

The student must take at least three (3) more credits (typically 1 course) of technical depth courses. In addition to Systems Engineering, depth courses may be taken in related disciplines such as Electrical Engineering, Computer Science, and Computer Engineering. Example depth courses include:

SYST 664: Advanced Systems Architecture

This course emphasizes the many partitioning alternatives that can be employed when developing physical systems architectures, including hierarchical partitioning, federated partitioning, scalable architectures, high availability architectures, and collaborative systems. The course also deals with methods for architecting successful systems, such as achieving data integrity, managing system workflow, and constructing representation models.

Prerequisites: SYST 660 and SYST 661.

SYST 673: Advanced Systems Engineering Processes

This two-credit course provides students the opportunity to deepen their understanding of the systems engineering processes introduced in SYST 660. Specifically, this course provides an in-depth study of the systems engineering processes outlined in the International Standard for Systems and Software Engineering (ISO/IEC 15288:2008), the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) Handbook, and the INCOSE Systems Engineering Body of Knowledge. This course will emphasize that Systems Engineering Technical Processes operate within the envelope of the Project as dictated by Contracts as set forth by an Organization. In the end, the student will have a good understanding and appreciation of the process framework required to create man-made systems. As a part of this course, students will select, research, and report on systems engineering process areas of particular importance to them. Prerequisites: SYST 660

ENMG 664: Quality Engineering & Management

This first aspect of this course is focused on an overview of basic quality principles and applications from engineering and engineering management perspectives. Students will examine philosophies of key figures like Deming, Juran, and Crosby and discover the value of a variety of quality management approaches (Baldridge Performance Excellence, ISO, and Six Sigma/Lean Six Sigma, and others). The second aspect of the course will focus on discussion, analysis, and application of some of quantitative tools including: Pareto charts, measurement systems, design of experiments, statistical process control, and six-sigma methods. Students will apply these tools and methods to solve engineering and management problems. Reading assignments, homework, exams, and the final project/paper will emphasize the application of quality approaches, techniques, and problem solving. Note: Students in undergraduate engineering programs or graduate degree programs other than Systems Engineering or Engineering Management need permission from their academic advisor in order to apply this course to their respective degree programs. This course can be counted as either a management course or an engineering course for the M.S. in Engineering Management.

CYBR 620: Intro to Cybersecurity

This course introduces students to the interdisciplinary field of cybersecurity by discussing the evolution of information security into cybersecurity, cybersecurity theory, and the relationship of cybersecurity to nations, businesses, society, and people. Students will be exposed to multiple cybersecurity technologies, processes, and procedures, learn how to analyze the threats, vulnerabilities and risks present in these environments, and develop appropriate strategies to mitigate potential cybersecurity problems.

Prospective students who have earned the CISSP designation within the past 5 years may, if admitted, substitute another course for CYBR 620 “Introduction to Cybersecurity” in their first semester of the CYBR MPS program. Students should provide evidence of successful completion of the CISSP exam within that timeframe (such as a transcript or official documentation from the certifying authority) to UMBC as part of their application.

Prerequisite: Enrollment in the CYBR program or in at least the second semester of graduate study. Other students may be admitted with instructor permission.

CMPE 685: Introduction to Communications Networks

This course provides an overview of network communications terms, concepts, architectures, protocols, and technologies. Upon completion of the course, students will be able to construct, and assess the completeness of, architectures for simple LAN and WAN communications networks. Topics include wire/fiber and wireless WANs and LANs, the OSI and TCP/IP models, propagation media, analog and digital data and signals, error detection, error correction, data link layer protocols, multiple access techniques, medium access control, circuit and packet switching, X.25, TCP/IP, ATM, Ethernet, switches, routers, routing techniques, congestion control, queuing theory, quality of service (QoS) metrics, network architectures, and network security.

Note: Computer Science (CMSC) courses may a) have pre-requisite requirements, b) meet twice weekly, or c) meet during the day. Consult the registration system for course meeting times and/or the instructor to discuss your suitability for these courses.

CMPE 684: Wireless Sensor Networks

A wide range of applications such as disaster management, military and security have fueled the interest in sensor networks during the past few years. Sensors are typically capable of wireless communication and are significantly constrained in the amount of available resources such as energy, storage and computation. Such constraints make the design and operation of sensor networks considerably different from contemporary wireless networks, and necessitate the development of resource conscious protocols and management techniques. This course provides a broad coverage of challenges and latest research results related to the design and management of wireless sensor networks. Covered topics include network architectures, node discovery and localization, deployment strategies, node coverage, routing protocols, medium access arbitration, fault-tolerance, and network security.

CMSC 626: Principles of Computer Security

This course will provide an introduction to computer security with a specific focus on the computing aspects. Topics covered include: basics of computer security, including an overview of threat, attack and adversary models; social engineering; essentials of cryptography; traditional computing security models; malicious software; secure programming; operating system security in practice; trusted operating system design; public policy issues, including legal, privacy and ethical issues; network and database security overview.

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