Your ESE Department Contact:

Staci Kaplan
Undergraduate Program Coordinator
Office: Room 203 Moore
Email: stacilk@seas.upenn.edu


Meet our ESE Students

Suraj Shah,Class of 2017

I visited Penn back in my sophomore year of high school and really loved the campus – I knew I wanted to apply here. When it came time to select majors, I leaned towards the engineering school because I had an interest in math and science coming out of high school, but didn't know what I really wanted to do career-wise. READ MORE

ESE Undergraduate Programs

What is Systems Engineering and why should I pursue a BSE in Systems?

Systems Engineers provide technical management for societal-scale problems that often encompass the connections between the physical and the information world. Examples of the many cutting-edge applications of Systems Engineering include autonomous robotics, smart buildings, national power grid management, global networks, service optimization, and biological systems.

Penn has re-engineered the systems curriculum for the twenty-first century.  Find out if Systems Engineering may be the right fit for you by exploring the resources below:

Watch: What is Systems Engineering?

Systems Engineering Defined:

Systems Engineering is the set of reusable mathematics, intellectual tools, and methodology for attacking large-scale engineering problems.  These common tools are adaptable for problems in different engineering domains (e.g. electrical, mechanical, biological, chemical, and computing) and help us to understand, design, and manage systems that contain elements from multiple domains.  Systems engineering deals with how we extract, useful, abstract models from lower level systems, use these models to analyze, and predict behavior, and, in turn, use the analysis to control behavior and optimize and synthesize solutions.  Once you extract the key relations in a problem (how current depends on voltage, how motor speed varies with current, how a rudder steers a boat, how an enzyme regulates a reaction) the mathematics to model, control, and optimize the problem is largely the same.  System engineering helps us to understand what happens when we compose many elements, each with their own behavior, and helps us understand how to design and constrain the individual elements to engineer desired behavior for the composed system.

A Student's Perspective

Chloé le Comte (SEAS '16) is a Systems Engineering major at Penn Engineering. In a blog post written for the Advancing Women in Engineering (AWE) program, where she is a member of the Advisory Board, Chloé details what the Systems Engineering program entails. She states, "Systems engineering is a major that is often hard to describe.  There are many definitions of systems engineering—just ask a few systems majors and you will no doubt hear a different iteration—all of which include words like “optimization,” “efficiency,” “integration,” or some combination thereof.  Sure, these words can describe systems, but they are probably meaningless out of context..." Continue reading >>

Systems Engineering Role Models

As another way to help you to decide where you might go as a System Engineer, we have identified a set of role models that exemplify the impact of system engineers in our modern world.

  • Vint Cerf -- One of the fathers of the Internet
  • Frederick W. Smith -- founder of FedEx, pioneer of overnight delivery
  • Arthur Dehon Little -- founder of Arthur D. Little and pioneer in management consulting
  • Edward O. Thorp -- Hedge fund pioneer, author of Beat the Dealer, father of the wearable computer
  • David E. Shaw -- pioneer in quantitative and computerized trading, king quant
  • Sebastian Thrun -- pioneer of driverless cars, led development of Google's self-driving car

* Except as specifically noted, these particular individuals are not associated with Penn.

See program requirements >>