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Systems Training & Education

For more information about the Systems Education and Training program please contact:

Kevin MacG. Adams, Ph.D.
Principal Research Scientist
National Centers for System of Systems Engineering
Old Dominion University
4111 Monarch Way, Suite 406
Norfolk, VA 23508-2563

Phone: 757-683-5219
Fax: 757-683-6912
Cell: 757-395-0237

Systems Education and Training Mission Area

Systems education and training is designed to expose participants to systems theory and a new holistic way to look at systems problems. Education and training in systems applies foundation principles from systems theory and a formal methodology to the analysis of real world system of systems (SoS) problems that utilizes examples and cases from a participant's domain.

Systems education and training is required because many programs in systems:

  1. Do not prepare participants for the real-world systems problems they are facing.
  2. Most courses focus on prescriptive, systematic methods used in systems acquisition (no supporting theoretical foundation).
  3. Do not address Operations & Maintenance (O&M) aspects of a systems' life cycle.
  4. Do not focus on real-world problems.
  5. Do not provide deep understanding of systems and SoS based in systems theory.

The education and training program provided by NCSOSE

  • Introduces new methods & techniques, based in systems theory, for addressing complex SoS problems.
  • Integrates existing knowledge with new methods & techniques to create innovative solutions for SoS problems.
  • Reinforces the teamwork aspect of engineering systems through a real-world case study.
  • Puts learning into practice by analyzing a specific SoS problem faced by the participants. This is a formal capstone case study which includes a report and briefing to management.

Participants in the systems education and training program can expect to receive new and improved knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA) to increase their proficiency and improve job performance.

Knowledge: Refers to organized factual assertions and procedures that, if applied, makes adequate performance of a task possible. Knowledge can be assessed through formal examination.

Skills: Refers to the proficient manual, verbal or mental manipulation of tools, techniques and methods. Skills can be readily measured by a performance test where quantity and quality of performance are tested, usually within an established time limit.

Abilities: Refers to the power to perform an observable activity at the present time. Abilities can be observed and measured through behaviors that are similar to those required in a given role.

Systems theory serves as the foundation for all systems education and training. Systems theory, as practiced by NCSOSE, is a formal theory of 7 axioms and numerous supporting propositions. The axioms are a unified system of propositions made with the aim of achieving some form of understanding that provides an explanatory power and predictive ability.


The propositions that support the axioms come from many fields of science and provide a truly multidisciplinary foundation for the theory.


Because the contributing propositions are multidisciplinary this construct for systems theory has the breadth and depth required to approach complex systems problems.

The systems training and education program offers a continuum of course options that range from a short four-hour overview to a 192 hour certificate. The course options are customizable based on the needs of your organization.


NCSOSE is able to select an appropriate set of topics, based upon the specific goals of your organization, from the course bank that will fulfill the desired outcomes:

  • Systems Engineering (SE) topics: exposure to the basic systems engineering life cycle and supporting ilities.
  • Systems Theory (ST) topics: exposure to the principle and multidisciplinary nature of systems theory, which is the foundation for solving complex, multidisciplinary problems.
  • Complex Systems (CS) topics: exposure to complexity theory and complex systems.
  • System of Systems Engineering (SS) topics: exposure to systems of systems (SoS) and a methodology for approaching SoS problems.
  • Case Study topics: formal case studies that applied systemic thinking to a real-world socio-technical systems problem.

A typical 26 hour short course in Systemic Thinking satisfies seven goals and includes the following course content.