Ton Peijnenburg

VDL Enabling Technologies

Session 1: 13 April 2021

16:15 – 16:45 hours

Systems engineering for high-tech equipment: making an implicit strength explicit

Our region is world-class in the multidisciplinary development and manufacturing of state-of-the-art, high-tech equipment. Development of the equipment is done in highly multidisciplinary teams using proven but implicit systems engineering (SE) processes. Because of the implicit nature, it is difficult to train students in these processes, let alone research these processes to further improve them. Hence the paradoxical situation that despite us being world-class in what we do, we don’t have explicit programs to train systems engineering for high-tech equipment at our universities. This we need to change.

At TU Eindhoven, we have been taking steps to define the outline of training in systems engineering and systems thinking for all programs, including undergraduate, graduate, PDEng and PhD programs. Discussions on this topic are facilitated by the TUE office for educational policy, together with the educational directors for the various programs. From HTSC, we contribute by formulating educational targets based on our industrial experience and the needs we have identified in our companies and our network.

Recently, we have discussed our findings with a small group of professionals from Brainport-based high-tech companies. We have identified challenges that are specific for our high-tech equipment activities and discussed findings from a short study trip to Canada and the US. We have identified some local flavors of SE and discussed the difference between systems engineers and systems architects. Based on these discussions, we agreed on a set of challenges that companies face and can likely be solved by better systems engineering.

In the presentation, I will give an overview of these findings and discuss possible steps forward.

Ton Peijnenburg is a research fellow at the High Tech Systems Center (HTSC) that performs fundamental research and design of new concepts and prototypes for high-tech equipment. His main affiliation is with VDL Enabling Technologies Group, where he is the deputy managing director for the Technology & Development group. At HTSC, Ton Peijnenburg is concerned with the development of collaborative research programs for industrially relevant areas. In addition, the implementation of systems thinking in research and development environments has his attention. The key question on how to train system engineers needs to be specifically addressed for the high-tech equipment domain.