Knowledge, abilities, cognitive characteristics and behavioral competences of engineers with high capacity for engineering systems thinking (CEST)



A major high-order thinking skill that enables engineers to successfully perform systems engineering tasks is Engineering Systems Thinking. To successfully perform their tasks, systems engineers need a systems view or, in other words, a high capacity for engineering systems thinking (CEST). This paper summarizes the findings of three studies aimed at identifying the knowledge, abilities, cognitive characteristics (thinking skills) and personal traits (behavioral competences) of systems engineers with high capacity for engineering systems thinking (or, in other words, successful systems engineers). The findings suggest that successful systems engineers possess interdisciplinary knowledge. They are expert in at least one main field but have general knowledge in additional fields and disciplines. They become familiar with the jargon and professional language of the other disciplines and are able to communicate with people or experts from different fields and disciplines. Overall, 10 cognitive characteristics, 11 abilities, and 10 behavioral competences were identified. In addition, nine additional roles of systems engineering were identified. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Syst Eng 9: 91–103, 2006