Several people stand at a table working on a piece of equipment. Several people stand at a table working on a piece of equipment.
Systems engineers work in a range of settings on a variety of projects. (Photo: Embry Riddle/David Massey)

What is Systems Engineering?

Story by Alison Whitney
Alison Whitney

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The Bachelor of Science in Systems Engineering focuses on broad applications across a range of disciplines addressing system-level modeling, analysis and operation.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is a prestigious engineering institution best known for our highly ranked Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering.

With several established undergraduate engineering programs within our Daytona Beach Campus College of Engineering, the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science will introduce a new program in the fall 2024 semester – the Bachelor of Science in Systems Engineering. The program will offer tracks in Aerospace Systems and Enterprise Systems.

What is systems engineering?

Systems engineering utilizes the practice of systems thinking – viewing large systems and projects in their entirety and understanding how all the parts work together.

Embry-Riddle’s Bachelor of Science in Systems Engineering teaches students decision-making skills crucial for optimizing engineering resources, particularly in aerospace and aviation. Students also gain the technical background and skills needed to communicate across engineering disciplines.

By graduation, students will be ready to design, model and analyze large systems, address dynamic challenges and drive technological advancement in industries like aerospace and defense.

What do systems engineers do?

A systems engineer’s day-to-day relies heavily on communication with other engineers, specialists and stakeholders within their organization.

In the workplace, systems engineers must consider how the components of a system work together and make decisions based on what they see and what obstacles they anticipate. Some of these duties include system design, development, testing and integration, human-machine interaction, risk analysis and system optimization.

Systems engineers must consider several aspects of the systems they are working on. What is the system’s purpose? What requirements must be met? What are the potential risks? Then, they must verify and validate the system requirements and see the project through, acting as project managers.

At Embry-Riddle, students work hands-on with real-world systems from the start, meaning graduates will be ready to hit the ground running once they’re in the workplace.

Where do systems engineers work?

Systems engineering is a relatively versatile field of work – systems engineers work in many major industries, including aerospace, defense, manufacturing, telecommunications and transportation. Lockheed Martin, SpaceX, Northrop Grumman, The Boeing Company and Blue Origin are just a few companies that often hire Embry-Riddle graduates, including systems engineers.

Systems engineers are also likely to find work in contracting roles within both the private and public sectors.

What skills does a systems engineer have?

Systems engineering is an inherently interdisciplinary practice, bringing together math, science and engineering principles. Successful students will demonstrate persistence, focus and an ability to work with abstract concepts.

This program is for those who want to learn about engineering applications across a range of disciplines while addressing system-level modeling, analysis and operations. Teamwork and communication are also key skills that systems engineers must have.

Additionally, systems engineering offers space for career growth and quick advancement into leadership and managerial roles.

How much do systems engineers get paid?

According to, entry-level systems engineers with a bachelor’s degree earn a median salary of $77,823 in the U.S.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University also offers a Master of Science in Systems Engineering. With a graduate degree and/or years of experience, systems engineers’ salaries soar into six-figure territory.

Is the field of systems engineering seeing growth?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, fields like industrial engineering, civil engineering and mechanical engineering are expecting 5-12% growth over the next several years, which is much faster than average.

The aerospace industry has a great need for systems engineers who specialize in the design of complex aerospace systems, human-machine systems, uncrewed system ground control and more.

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