Wallace State Offers Innovative Systems Engineering Technology Degree

Mar 7, 2024Dalton Bright
Systems Engineering Technology

Wallace State Computer Science instructor Greg Knight discusses a class project students in the Systems Engineering Technology classes are working on involving the design of a Tour de France bike.

Hanceville, AL — For those interested in engineering, but not ready to take the leap into a four-year course of study, the Wallace State Community College Computer Science program offers a Systems Engineering Technology option that is focused on model–based systems engineering (MBSE). After completion of the two-year curriculum, students will be awarded an associate degree in Systems Engineering Technology.

MBSE is a methodology that uses visual models to design, analyze and manage complex systems. It allows engineers to simulate and optimize system designs before implementation, reducing errors and improving collaboration across industries like aerospace, automotive, and defense. Systems engineering technicians create digital models to coordinate large-scale, complex engineering projects. Students in the Systems Engineering Technology courses at Wallace State will learn the computer programming and database skills needed to build, maintain and grow those models.

“In the world of complex product design, MBSE is a game-changer. Federal contracts now require that providers of these products use MBSE in the product development process,” said Greg Knight, instructor for the Wallace State SET program. “With engineers that are involved in the roll out of a project or a product, the system engineer makes sure all the stuff works together to deliver that product. Instead of doing paper files or even electronic files like PDFs and spreadsheets, we use a data-driven, model-based approach.”

Developed with the Institute for Digital Enterprise Advancement (IDEA), the five-semester curriculum focuses on providing training for systems engineering concepts, modeling methods and how MBSE will fit into the future digital environment. Systems engineering technicians will serve as data management support staff for systems engineers in fields related to aerospace and the defense industry, but the concepts can be applied to a variety of fields.

The program is available for traditional students as well as dual enrollment students from area high schools. Upon completion of the program, students will earn an associate degree in Systems Engineering Technology. The program also offers an option to earn a short-term certificate in programming after completing 12 hours of relevant coursework in C++, Java and Python coding languages.

The curriculum includes six courses:

  • Introduction to Systems Engineering (SYS101)
  • MBSE in Digital Environment (SYS221)
  • Systems Modeling (SYS231, SYS232, SYS233)
  • Capstone (SYS241), which includes a real-world project in support of an industry partner.

Industry partners will play a large role in the courses, with paid internships made available to students in the program as well as the possibility of apprenticeships.  

The Systems Engineering Technology field fosters a broader arena for creative expression compared to other sectors within computer-based engineering, providing ample opportunities for innovative problem-solving. Knight said one of the most notable advantages of the Systems Engineering Technology field is its flexibility in allowing employees to often work remotely.

“Wallace State is in a unique position as many of the MBSE roles could be filled as remote positions for defense and aerospace companies located in the Huntsville area and beyond. Because of our rural location, the industry is looking at us to train system modelers to be able to work remotely. That's one of the unique aspects of our program,” said Knight. “Because we're rural, our students will not necessarily in the future have to drive to one of the large metro areas to work. They need people enough and are allowing them to work remotely. "

For more information about the Systems Engineering Technology option, contact Greg Knight at 256.352.8158 or gregory.knight@wallacestate.edu or visit www.wallacestate.edu/set.

Priority registration for summer and fall semesters will begin April 1. Summer 2024 classes begin May 22. For more information, visit www.wallacestate.edu, call 256.352.8000 or come by Lion Central in the lobby of the James C. Bailey Center Monday-Wednesday 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or Friday 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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