Use Case 4: Educators and Researchers

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This use case addresses the use of SEBoK and its companion curriculum guideline, GRCSE (Pyster and Olwell et al. 2011), by educators and/or researchers. SEBoK provides the knowledge that constitutes the system engineering domain, while GRCSE (Graduate Reference Curriculum for System Engineering) provides a summary of topics that should be covered in a system engineering curriculum.

Within the context of this use case, we refer to a university faculty and/or professional trainer as an educator. A researcher is a person who is interested in learning about the current state of System Engineering and/or potential advancement of the state of SE. An educator will use the SEBoK and GRCSE in support of curriculum and/or course development in order to assure its accuracy and completeness, and its assessment. The curriculum and/or course can be one that is focused on system engineering, domain-centric systems engineering, or another engineering discipline that includes some systems engineering topics.

The Use of Topics

Each topic in the SEBOK identifies a wide range of related concepts and perspectives. Given the dynamic nature of the system engineering domain, the wiki environment also allows for frequent updates as the state of system engineering evolves. Thus the SEBoK serves as a great asset for educators and researchers. This is especially true, since SEBoK also provides a range of references in the citation section and identifies those references that are considered primary references for a particular topic as well as additional references.

An educator can refer to a SEBOK topic and the reference lists at the end of that topic discussion to identify additional content for further curriculum development; to use as reading assignments in a course; or to provide students with additional or supplemental references. An educator can also use the concepts, perspectives, and references to develop or refine their course objectives and the techniques for assessing them.

A researcher can refer to a SEBoK topic and its corresponding primary and secondary references to learn about the current state of the topic, and use this information in order to further investigate the domain of interest for potential advancement of the topic.

A good course and/or research topic requires multiple perspectives on that topic, and the SEBoK provides these various perspectives. As there is a wide diversity in accepted practices across systems engineering, cataloging this diversity for use is very important.

Implementation Examples

Good examples make for good teaching. The SEBoK includes Systems Engineering Implementation Examples, which contains summaries of and references to full case studies and overviews of events (vignettes) related to specific areas of systems engineering. These case studies and vignettes are linked back to the appropriate areas of the SEBoK and a matrix is provided that shows the primary areas of the SEBoK addressed by each case study or vignette. Faculty can use the matrix to find case studies and vignettes, along with additional references, that are related to their areas of study. These examples can be directly used in the curriculum.


A university faculty can use SEBoK and GRCSE in several capacities. The faculty can use SEBoK to develop a complete system engineering curriculum, or a single course in system engineering (either to be used in a SE curriculum or be used in some other discipline). Faculty can also use SEBoK and GRCSE for curriculum or course assessment. Finally, a faculty may use SEBoK as part of his/her professional development, either by expanding his/her knowledge in SE, or learning about the SE domain.

A professional trainer can use SEBoK in order to develop training material. S/he can also use SEBoK to evaluate and/or update an existing training course.

Vignette: Curriculum Development

A faculty or a group of faculty has been tasked by their university (college, or department) to investigate the feasibility of developing a graduate degree in system engineering. After some initial feasibility analysis (i.e., evaluating the market for such program, evaluating the competing degree offering by others, etc.), it become obvious that there is a case for the university to offer the graduate program in SE. In order to design such program, the faculty will first identify the program constituents, followed by the review of the GRCSE document, for the purpose of identifying the potential objectives, outcomes and entrance requirement for such a degree.

Next, the faculty will review the typical curriculum architecture (GRCSE chapter 5) and the CORBoK section (chapter 6) of the GRCSE document in order to identify 50% of the content for the SE curriculum. This will be followed by the review of SEBoK parts 2-7 in order to identify the remaining curriculum content (note: As it is mentioned in the GRCSE document, it is not necessary to have 100% of the content driven by the SEBOK topics). Once the overall architecture and the content and the scope of the curriculum are defined, then the faculty will start developing individual course content. In order to do so, first the faculty defines the necessary prerequisite of each course, thereby defining the course sequenceing for the curriculum, followed by the objectives/goals and the expected outcome of each course.

Vignette: Course Development

Once course prerequisites, objectives and outcomes are defined, then the faculty responsible for the course design will use the related material in the SEBoK, to define the course content and coverage. In addition to the SEBoK content, the faculty uses the primary and secondary references to identify the depth and breadth of the knowledge in order to define the scope of the course content. Once the scope is defined, the faculty starts the development of the course material.

When a professional trainer wants to design the training material, s/he will be performing the same type of activities as are described above. However, depending on the purpose of the training material, the trainer may actually integrate some specific domain specific content to customize the training course for specific industry/customers.


A researcher may use a topic and it’s corresponding primary and secondary references in SEBoK to learn about the state of the art in that specific area, and potentially look for opportunities to advance the area by further research.

Vignette: Software Engineering Research

William, a software engineer by training is interested to learn more about Software Intensive Systems (SIS). More specifically, he wants to learn about some of the best practices that are currently used throughout the software development life cycle, and to try to adopt those practices as they relates to software intensive systems. As part of his research, William has spent an extensive amount of time and effort reviewing the SWEBoK (SoftWare Engineering Body of Knowledge) and its corresponding primary references to find any special treatment of activities and practices as they relate to SIS.

As part of his research, he learns about the SEBoK, and he decides to spend some time reviewing the SEBoK to see if there is any special treatment of the software intensive systems throughout that document. Although, he was not able to find any specific discussion of the SIS as part of SEBoK, he realized that there are number of activities throughout the system development life cycle which can be adopted/customized to deal with the development of SIS. Therefore, William decided to invest some time, and learn about the system development life cycle in SEBoK part 3, and to try to customize some of the activities and practices mentioned in this section to address the development of the software intensive systems.


Educators can check current curriculum against the SEBoK to identify potential gaps in many areas of the curriculum and to support putting a plan in place to address those gaps. They can also use the SEBoK as a framework for determining what subject matter should be included in a new curriculum and as a resource in designing individual courses. Educators can leverage the case studies and vignettes provided in the SEBoK directly in the classroom. Educators should use the SEBoK in tandem with GRCSE for development of curricula at the program level. Finally, educators and researchers can use the SEBoK for continuing education and research.


Works Cited

Bloom, B.S., M.D. Engelhart, E.J. Furst, W.H. Hill, and D.R. Krathwohl. 1956. Taxonomy of Educational Objectives the Classification of Educational Goals Handbook I: Cognitive Domain. London, UK: Longman Group Ltd.

Primary References

Pyster, A., Olwell, D., Squires, A., Hutchison, N., Enck, S., (eds); T. Ferris (lead author). 2011. Graduate Reference Curriculum for Systems Engineering (GRCSE). Version 0.5. Hoboken, NJ, USA: Stevens Institute of Technology. Released for review, December, 2011. Available at

Additional References

No additional references have been identified for version 0.75. Please provide any recommendations on additional references in your review.

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