Teaching Systems Thinking: A Case Study at the United States Military Academy

Contributing USMA Research Unit(s)

Systems Engineering

Publication Date


Publication Title

2018 Annual IEEE International Systems Conference (SysCon)

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


This paper introduces how the U.S. Military Academy's Undergraduate Core Engineering Sequence in Systems Engineering explicitly teaches systems thinking as a prerequisite foundation for students' subsequent education in systems engineering. It traces the evolution of the introductory systems engineering course over six semesters and presents the initial findings from this case study. The ongoing goal of this pedagogical research is to answer three questions: (1) How can one actually teach, evaluate, and assess such an ambiguously defined and subjectively measured, but commonly accepted concept as systems thinking? (2) How much time should be allocated to systems thinking within the greater engineering curriculum? (3) What specific systems thinking methods and tools should be presented?

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