Shaping the Future of Systems Engineering: Worcester Polytechnic Institute at INCOSE International Symposium 2015

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Worcester Polytechnic Institute takes a leading role at the premier international event for systems engineers.

Rachel LeBlanc

With a focus on education and empowering women to be leaders in the field of systems engineering, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) is a sponsor and lead organizer of the 25th international symposium of the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE), which begins July 13 in Seattle, Wash.

INCOSE IS 2015 is the largest global gathering in the systems engineering field. More than 700 systems engineering professionals are expected at the four-day event that will feature keynote speeches, research and case study presentations, seminars, workshops, and discussion groups covering a wide range of issues related to the discipline.

“We are looking forward to an outstanding event for the global community of systems engineering,” said Rachel LeBlanc, executive director of Corporate and Professional Education at WPI and chair of the INCOSE IS 2015 planning group. “At this 25th anniversary symposium we want to take stock of how the field has developed and, more important, discuss how to build on that foundation and advance the field to help people and organizations succeed.”

INCOSE defines systems engineering as “an interdisciplinary approach and means to enable the realization of successful systems. It focuses on defining customer needs and required functionality early in the development cycle, documenting requirements, and then proceeding with design synthesis and system validation while considering the complete problem.”

Several WPI faculty members will present case studies and research findings or will appear on various panels at the INCOSE symposium. They include Tom Gannon, PhD, professor of practice in systems engineering and electrical and computer engineering (and assistant director of the INCOSE academic council); Don Gelosh, PhD, director of systems engineering programs; Fred Looft, PhD, academic director of systems engineering and professor of electrical and computer engineering; Jamie Monat, PhD, director of executive education; and Robert Swarz, PhD, professor of practice in systems engineering (and a member of the INCOSE board of directors). Look here for a schedule of WPI faculty participation at INCOSE 2015.

“A major theme for our group in Seattle is to advance the idea that some systems engineering content should become part of the curriculum for all engineering education,” Gannon said. “Systems engineering is about understanding the big picture. It’s about taking a more holistic approach to a complex system or problem. Emerging research indicates that this is helpful to all engineers.”

In Seattle, INCOSE will formally launch a new initiative called Empowering Women as Leaders in Systems Engineering. WPI is sponsoring the launch event and WPI faculty and staff, including Shamsnaz Virani, PhD, assistant teaching professor of systems engineering and electrical and computer engineering, will be active participants in the new group. “This is an important priority because while women certainly are becoming more visible in systems engineering and rising to positions of leadership, much more needs to be done to encourage, mentor, and attract more women into the field,” LeBlanc said.

Also new this year at the INCOSE symposium, WPI systems engineering faculty will be available for individual 30-minute meetings with any registered attendee. The meetings will take place at the WPI booths (B3 and B4) at the event. Attendees interested in reserving time with a WPI systems engineering expert should sign up at

“Systems engineering is WPI's largest professional program,” LeBlanc said. “Our faculty members have a depth of experience that we want to make more directly available to the symposium participants. We hope this new way to connect and share ideas will bring added value to those who come to Seattle.”

About Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Founded in 1865 in Worcester, Mass., WPI is one of the nation’s first engineering and technology universities. Its 14 academic departments offer more than 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science, engineering, technology, business, the social sciences, and the humanities and arts, leading to bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. WPI's talented faculty work with students on interdisciplinary research that seeks solutions to important and socially relevant problems in fields as diverse as the life sciences and bioengineering, energy, information security, materials processing, and robotics. Students also have the opportunity to make a difference to communities and organizations around the world through the university's innovative Global Perspective Program. There are more than 40 WPI project centers in the Americas, Africa, Asia-Pacific, and Europe. For more information visit

Michael Cohen
508-868-4778, mcohen(at)wpi(dot)edu

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