ECE SEMINAR: Systems Engineering Theory is a Scientific Theory

Aug 10

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Thursday, August 10, 2023 – 12:00PM to 1:00PM

Eric Feron Head Shot


Eric Feron Robotics, Intelligent Systems, and Control Laboratory (RISClab), King Abdullah University of Science and Technology

Systems engineering and associated challenges become increasingly important for the well-being and safety of our society of humans. Motivated by this formidable push towards ever more complex systems of all sizes, spectacular failures, and decades of questioning in a variety of contexts and endeavors, this talk hypothesizes a theory of complex systems engineering, that is, a scientific theory in which an engineered system can be seen as a un-invalidated scientific hypothesis arising from a convergent mix of rigorous mathematical and validated experimental constructs. In its simplest form, it is a manufactured, un-invalidated scientific hypothesis arising from a mathematical theorem similar to those found in mathematical physics. The talk begins with the scientific hypothesis underlying this theory, and arguments in favor of it are displayed, as well as some of its practical consequences in terms of complex system design and future research. Then, a limited set of experiments is presented to try and invalidate the theory by confronting it to existing educational programs in systems engineering in the United States of America. Concurrent with these invalidation efforts, this talk also argues that there is a serious and growing lack of education in mathematics and/or engineering science in most, if not all, engineering programs. Such weaknesses challenge the industrial value of all corporate or government institutions who are in the pursuit of complex engineered systems excellence.

Eric Feron is a Professor of Biological, Electrical, Computer, and Mechanical Engineering at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, where he co-directs the Robotics, Intelligent Systems, and Control laboratory (RISClab). Eric has had appointments with Ecole Nationale de l'Aviation Civile, France; the Georgia Institute of Technology, USA; the Institut Supérieur de l'Aéronautique et de l'Espace, Sup'Aéro campus, France; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA; and the Office National d'Etudes et Recherches Aérospatiales, France. Eric Feron trained as a naval officer of the watch on nuclear submarines (France), and as a private pilot (USA). Feron's research focuses on leveraging his knowledge of and contributions to control theory, computer science, and optimization to address problems having to do with autonomy, robotic agility, transportation, and other complex systems-level challenges.