Your ESE Department Contact:

Staci Kaplan
Undergraduate Program Coordinator
Office: Room 203 Moore


SSE Curriculum FAQ

Are we allowed to choose between the current CPG (2013) and the new CPG (2014)?
Yes, but sophomores should decide by the end of this term.
Why has the 2013 curriculum been updated?
The faculty reviewed the curriculum with a several key questions in mind: What skills do our students need to succeed and be leaders in their field in the 21st century. What experiences will best prepare our systems engineering students to tackle real world problems?  Which combination of structure and freedom will allow our students to have the right balance of breadth and depth? 

        Faculty also listened to student feedback to better refine the curriculum. 

Some key adjustments: 

Programming experience is deepened (CIS 120). ESE 215 is no longer required of all SSE students; a newly designed course that will provide a better foundational overview of signal processing will be offered instead – ESE 224. Management skills will be strengthened through two courses under the technology management elective section. Flexibility is preserved through the Societal Problem Application that replaced the previous “Application Focus” section. 

This new curriculum will help students build a strong portfolio of programming foundation, technical skills, management abilities and content knowledge in a relevant societal-scale problem.   

What will the new lab requirement be like?
SSE students have expressed a sense of deficit, especially when compared to their colleagues in EE, in their ability to “make something”.  This new lab requirement and new lab courses being created are designed to address this issue.  While SSE students will not be expected to have depth of knowledge of hardware such as circuits, they will have a chance to work in teams and have hands-on experience building something and working with real data.    There is a plan for a new lab course that operates at a higher level than ESE350 (e.g. MATLAB or LabView).  We will offer BE 470 and the new ESE Research course 290/291 to satisfy the lab option.
If we elect to switch to the new curriculum, but have not taken ESE 111, a new required course, what do we do?
Students can petition to substitute a comparable course (EAS101, MEAM 101, BE 100).


The previous curriculum had a great deal of flexibility. How does the new curriculum compare?

After much deliberation and reviewing how current students’ programs might be impacted, we believe that the degree of flexibility is quite comparable. 

For example, what used to be the “Focus Area” section, for example, is now the “Societal Problem Application” section.  This retains the same degree of freedom, but with a more targeted goal of helping Systems Engineering students shape how they can apply their systems knowledge to real world problems.  The full range of university courses are available for students to select from.  Students should consult with their faculty advisor on the best selection of courses for intended application. 

The new curriculum does provide more guidance.  For example, Math 312 on Linear Algebra is now a required course. This is based on feedback from both students and faculty that the content of this course is necessary for more advanced level engineering courses that will boost students’ technical competencies.  Counterbalancing this, the natural science lab requirements now are more relaxed, requiring two physical labs, but not a third. 

I was planning to take an Engineering Entrepreneurship Minor. Would I still be able to do that with the new curriculum?
Yes. In fact, the new curriculum has the advantage of having a Technology Management section.
In the current curriculum, the Ethics requirement can be fulfilled by LGST210. Will that be preserved in the new?
No. Engineering Ethics 203 is now a required course.  It is designed particularly to explore ethically issues that arise from engineering and provide a framework for identifying and reasoning about them within the broader context of engineering design requirements.
If we stay with the old curriculum, then is Legal Studies OK?
Yes. We do not encourage it, but it will be allowed via petition.
I am interested in the management side of the technology development. Do I still have the same degree of freedom to shape my studies in that area?
Yes. There is in fact a new technology management section and classes both within Engineering (e.g. Engineering Entrepreneurship) and within Wharton (e.g. OPIM) provide a range of options.  Though, as even with the current curriculum, not ALL Wharton classes will be acceptable.  We are allowing MGMT 235 or 237 to count as a Technology Management Elective in the new CPG.
The old "Area Focus" is now the "Societal Scale Problems" section. What classes will count for this class?

The Societal Application Elective requirement is designed to give SSE majors the opportunity to explore the existing or potential use of systems engineering tools and concepts to address pressing societal challenges, needs and opportunities. The following list of approved courses is not intended to be exhaustive but rather illustrative of the broad diversity of offerings in other departments across the University that can be used to fulfill this requirement. Students who wish to meet the requirement with courses not presently on this list should plan to petition the SSE Undergraduate Chair with a proposal that includes the complete triplet of courses planned together with a few sentences of justification along the lines of some of the annotations below.

Biological Systems
PHYS 280 Physical Models of Biological Systems
BE 440 Biomolecular and Cellular Engineering
BE 444 Nanoscale Systems Biology
BE 445 Engineering and Biological Principles in Cancer
BE 486 Signal Analysis and Processing (prereq BE301, but maybe ESE224 adequate)
BE 566 / ESE 566 Networked Neuroscience
BE 584 Mathematics of Medical Imaging and Measurements
BIOL 437 Introduction to Computational Biology & Biological Modeling

Biology is undergoing a rapid revolution from a descriptive to a quantitative science. Because every aspect of social life is impacted in many different ways by insights and methods from biology, there are many opportunities to apply systems thinking and tools to the emerging new biological disciplines with significant social impact. The present list includes courses for which the quantitative aspects of the science are well enough established that the links to model based systems concepts and tools are immediate.

EAS 301 Climate Policy and Technology
CBE 375 Intro to Environmental Systems
CBE 543 Sustainable Development and Water Residential Systems
OIDD 261 Risk Analysis and Environmental Management
ENVS 325- Sustainable Goods

EAS 401 Energy and Its Impacts: Technology, Environment, Economics, Sustainability EAS 402 Renewable Energy and Its Impacts: Technology, Environment, Economics, Sustainability
EAS 403 Energy Systems and Policy
ENMG 502 Intro to Energy Policy

There is by now a broad and deep agreement within the climatological sciences that anthropogenic disturbances have begun to change the earth's climate in ways that will have increasingly dramatic social impact. The present list includes courses respecting which the links to quantitative systems concepts and tools are immediate.

Quantitative Modeling
OIDD 224 Service Operations Management
OIDD 319 Advanced Decision Systems: Evolutionary Computation
OIDD 353 Mathematical Modeling Applications in Finance
FNCE 392 Financial Engineering

Business systems offer myriad engineering opportunities with huge social impact at the interface between "soft" behavioral, descriptive phenomena and "hard," formally represented quantitative processes. The present list includes courses that focus on expanding and exploiting the role of formal representations and quantitative analysis in business systems applications.

City Planning
CPLN 501 Quantitative Planning Analysis Methods
CPLN 505 Planning by Numbers
CPLN 520 Introduction to Community and Economic Development
CPLN 550 Introduction to Transportation Planning
CPLN 621 Metropolitan Food System

CPLN 550 Introduction to Transportation Planning
CPLN 650 Transportation Planning Methods (pre-req CPLN505)
CPLN 654 Urban Transit Systems and Technology
CPLN 750 / ESE 550 Advance Transportation Seminar, Air Transportation Systems Planning

Within the domain of social studies, the design and management of human transportation systems offers one of the most established venues for formal modeling and analysis. The present list includes courses respecting which the links to model based systems concepts and tools are immediate.

Chemical Processing

CBE 520 Modeling, Simulations, and Optimization of Chemical Processes

Although many of the technical engineering electives available to SSE majors already address systems properties of physical devices and technology, our present SSE curriculum does not offer many connections to chemical engineering systems despite their huge social impact and importance. The present list is intended to facilitate making that connection.


ESE 407 (ESE 507) Introduction to Networks and Protocols
ESE 408 Data Communications

Today's society benefits from a world-wide infrastructure that permits the exchange of information between physically separate points. Planning, optimization, and implementation of this infrastructure is rich in applications for systems engineering.

MEAM 410 / 510 Design of Mechatronic Systems
MEAM 520 Introduction to Robotics
MEAM 620 Advanced Robotics
ESE 650 Learning in Robotics

Our society is increasingly exploiting human-built machines that manipulate objects in the physical world. The design, optimization, and deployment of these machines demands the trans-disciplinary skills embodied in systems engineering and leverages model-based system engineering.

Machine Intelligence
CIS 519 Introduction to Machine Learning
CIS 520 Machine Learning
CIS 521 Fundamentals of AI
ESE 650 Learning in Robotics

The use of computers to automatically identify patterns in data and give responses that would mimic or exceed the intelligent answer that a human would give is becoming a powerful tool to address many societal-scale problems, including business, health, manufacturing, transportation, and logistics. These courses build upon the quantitative signal and information processing and decision making skills in systems engineering and show how they can be be expanded to engineer knowledge and learning systems.