INCOSE International Symposium 2016

Palace of HolyroodThe international systems engineering community met in Edinburgh for the INCOSE International Symposium 2016 from 18 to 21 July. For me, this was the first visit to the history rich and beautiful city of Edinburgh since the EuSEC 2006 ten years ago. Then, Philip M’Pherson presented a keynote using a quite simple figure illustrating the dual character of systems engineering as a specific engineering discipline among other disciplines, and as the glue of multi-disciplinary cooperation. I like this figure especially in order to point to the need for engineers from all disciplines being capable representing their discipline in multi-disciplinary endeavours. Now it was announced during the opening plenary that Philip M’Pherson has passed away this year.

Over the four conference days, INCOSE had arranged for five keynotes. At the opening plenary, Larry Leifer from Stanford University talked about design thinking and his personal involvement. As this talk was close to his presentation at the Swiss Systems Engineering Day 2015, no further remarks are considered here. Please, refer to my report on the SWISSED 2015 for why systems engineering is fun.

The Tuesday and Wednesday keynotes were both on public infrastructure. Under the title “”, Craig Lucas presented the challenges to the energy system in the UK on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Julie Alexander talked about the city of the future claiming that “The Future Belongs to Innovators”. Both talks presented a comprehensive view on their subjects. However, their general viewpoints were remarkably different. Craig Lucas emphasised the considerations on understanding the energy system as a whole in the context of climate change as a prerequisite for defining and taking concerted actions. Julie Alexander subsumed the understanding of her subject’s context more concentrated. She relied mainly on the associations within the audience when listening to a wide range of buzzwords. She impressed with her strong believe that digitalisation will provide the appropriate solutions. Noting that Julie Alexander is a Director of Urban Development and Siemens, and that Craig Lucas is the Acting Director of Science and Innovation at the UK department of Energy and Climate Change may explain the different viewpoints to a wide extent. Nevertheless, the differences provide some exemplary evidence for the following two conclusions:

Will be continued