Campus & Community

Stevens' SERC Contributes to Systems Engineering Technical Leadership Student Pilot

Hoboken, NJ The Stevens-led Systems Engineering Research Center (SERC), with sponsorship from the Defense Acquisition University (DAU), held the first SYS 350A Systems Engineering Technical Leadership Student Pilot at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds Mission Training Center from Nov. 14-18. Twenty-two systems engineers from various Army installations participated in this new technical leadership course, which immersed students into real-world systems engineering situations that required the expanse of superior domain knowledge to personal and organizational effectiveness considerations.

SYS 350A focused on leadership at the system level, providing insights into what to build and why; bringing solutions to life; ensuring systems work and are robust; and managing the evolution of a system. To address these areas, the course contained topics such as: technical uncertainty, applied systems thinking, leading others in creative problem solving, complexity and why projectss fail. These topics were supported by case studies designed to give students real-world examples through which to explore these ideas, such as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Container Security System and a process automation system in the telecommunications industry. Each of these components focused on the leadership aspects of a given topic. In addition, specific segments were devoted to students’ exploration of their leadership skills, such as being a self-aware leader and creating a leadership development plan. Finally, the students participated in a project which was threaded throughout the four days and allowed students to focus on core values, exploring both the government and contractor perspectives.

Feedback from the students was very positive and included verbal statements such as, "This was real world," and, "I have seen this before in my job."

The Army in Huntsville at Redstone Arsenal is now interested in putting on another pilot, based on the feedback from their students who attended the Aberdeen pilot. This additional pilot is tentatively scheduled for March 2012.

SYS 350A is the first of three technical leadership modules for DAU.  Future pilots undergoing course development include the SYS 350B (business module) and SYS 350C (enterprise module) that expand students' leadership experience into the broader technical and organizational domain demands of systems engineering leaders. The DAU research is also informing the Stevens Master’s of Engineering in Technical Leadership program and vice versa.

Stevens faculty and researchers who participated in the DAU systems module pilot included Val Gavito (principal investigator), Mike Pennotti (systems lens lead), Bill Robinson, Pete Dominick and Nicole Hutchison. In addition, Tony Barrese, John Boardman, Pete McQuade, Dinesh Verma and Jon Wade provided source material that was used throughout the technical presentations.

About Stevens Institute of Technology

Founded in 1870, Stevens Institute of Technology, The Innovation University™, lives at the intersection of industry, academics and research.  The University's students, faculty and partners leverage their collective real-world experience and culture of innovation, research and entrepreneurship to confront global challenges in engineering, science, systems and technology management. 

Based in Hoboken, N.J. and with a location in Washington, D.C., Stevens offers baccalaureate, master’s, certificates and doctoral degrees in engineering, the sciences and management, in addition to baccalaureate degrees in business and liberal arts.  Stevens has been recognized by both the US Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security as a National Center of Excellence in the areas of systems engineering and port security research. The University has a total enrollment of more than 2,350 undergraduate and 3,600 graduate students with almost 450 faculty. Stevens’ graduate programs have attracted international participation from China, India, Southeast Asia, Europe and Latin America as well as strategic partnerships with industry leaders, governments and other universities around the world.  Additional information may be obtained at and