System thinking and systems engineering play crucial roles in the vision and programs of the High Tech Systems Center. The ability to direct engineering skills and research knowledge into the conception, design and realization of an integrated functional ‘unit’ with pre-specified performance requires skills that are typically acquired through experience in industrial environments.
A number of modern trends influence this development:
- The pace of equipment development is increasing as product life-cycles shorten;
- Product complexity is increasing to match more demanding requirements;
- Design boundary conditions are being challenged successfully – new materials, tools and computing power are enabling.
These trends mean that HTSC focuses on actively teaching and pursuing methods and practices in systems engineering. One of the central concepts in systems thinking is the definition of architecture – for typical industrial equipment this includes mechanical, an electrical and software architectures.
Another central concept in systems engineering is development according to the V-model. This allows systematic decomposition of a complex functions and requirements into subsystems, modules and components. A complex system typically goes through a number of predesigns, starting with a Proof of Principle (PoP), prototype and finally the product – as shown in the figure above.
The methodology of systems engineering is still evolving, and modern software methods as well as mathematical innovations to manage and optimize system budgets are still in full development. The High Tech Systems Center has the ambition to both further develop these methods and to use them as the engineering method to merge the excellent TU/e scientific and engineering skills into the next-generation high-tech systems.