Introducing engineering systems design: a new engineering perspective on the challenges of our times

Anja Maier, Josef Oehmen, Pieter E. Vermaas

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Framing and understanding our connected and evolving world requires a systems perspective. Intervening and acting towards more sustainable futures and a humane society requires (re-)designing. To achieve that, the Handbook of Engineering Systems Design focuses on socio-technical engineering systems shaping our modern lives.

Such systems are fulfilling core functions in society and are characterised by a high degree of technical and organisational complexity, multifacetedness of human behaviour, elaborated processes, and long lifecycles. Examples include generating and distributing energy, enabling global communication networks, creating affordable healthcare, managing global digital manufacturing and supply chains, or building and maintaining critical infrastructure.

The Handbook is an authoritative compendium and reference source written by leading experts in the field from across the globe. It is written for scholars as well as practitioners transforming society through research- and education-, industry- and policy and as such, an essential resource for decision makers to understand their role as change makers.

In this introduction, the core terms of the engineering systems approach are defined and the current context in which engineers work is described, characterised by the developments of globalisation and interconnectedness and by the challenges of sustainability and digitalisation. The introduction then focuses on interventions in engineering systems by design, looks at advantages and some concerns of adopting the engineering systems approach, poses open questions for the future, including a call to action for training the ability to connect – connectability – and provides a summary of the contents of the contributions to the five parts of the Handbook.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Engineering Systems Design
EditorsAnja Maier, Josef Oehmen, Pieter Vermaas
Place of PublicationCham
Number of pages30
ISBN (Electronic)9783030460549
ISBN (Print)9783030460549
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2022


  • engineering systems design
  • engineering systems
  • design
  • sustainability
  • digitalisation
  • systems thinking
  • interventions
  • societal transformation


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