Here is an interview with Diego Custódio Rangel, a graduate from Naval Postgraduate School, which talks about his experience and perspective as a graduate from the academic equivalency program. Happy SEPtember!
This interview was conducted in 2022.
Here is an interview with Robert F. Bordley from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor which talks about his experience and perspective as a Program Director of the academic equivalency program. Happy SEPtember!
This interview was done in 2022.
Here is an interview with René King of Certification Training International (CTI) which talks about her experience and perspective as a trainer on the SEP Certification. Happy SEPtember!
This interview was done in 2022.
Here is an interview with Dale Thomas from University of Alabama in Huntsville which talks about his experience and perspective as a point of contact of the academic equivalency program. Happy SEPtember!
This interview was done in 2022.
SEPtember is coming soon, and we have a series of blog posts lined up which are interviews with training providers, faculty of Academic Equivalency programs, graduates from Academic Equivalency programs, and certified students. The focus of these blog posts is on promoting Systems Engineering education.
The training providers list on the INCOSE Certification Website
helped us contact the training providers for the interviews. Being a part of this list would open up such opportunities for training providers in the future.
Would you like to be a part of this list?
Here is the link to the survey that you can fill if you wish to be a part of the training providers list: https://app.smartsheet.com/b/form/b8d430ec78684515bc93dd9179229d8e
This survey helps us update the training providers list with information about your training that supports the preparation for the knowledge exam, and certification application.
For any query/comments/feedback on the survey please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Get it? SEPtember? As in Systems Engineering Professionals!
Every day in SEPtember, the CertBlog will include one or two interviews with individuals involved with INCOSE Certification. Our theme for 2022's blog posts is training and education. We'll have professors who have set up Academic Equivalency programs, students who have participated in those programs, training providers, and INCOSE chapter advocates for certification.
If you aren't certified, read these blog posts to learn about the different paths that led people to certification for themselves and to encourage it in others. If you are already certified, consider if there's a way you can help others on their journey.
INCOSE intern, Mrunmayi Joshi, ASEP, anticipated the questions that many will have related to the INCOSE SE Handbook Fifth Edition.
What is different about the Fifth Edition of the Handbook?
When will the Fifth Edition be released?
When can we start testing on it?
When do we have to stop testing on the Fourth Edition of the Handbook?
Will the test format change?
She assembled and delivered an outstanding presentation on the topic during the 17 August INCOSE Tech Ops Webinar. Many requested the slides she used. Here they are.
INCOSE's Certification Program generates the knowledge exam based on a blueprint generated with the help of our psychometric consultants. The blueprint is a list of topics we will test on (the learning objectives) and the number of questions each exam will have on those topics. All candidates take exams that are equivalently distributed across the learning objectives. We don't publish that distribution, but we do publish the learning objectives.
If you are studying for the INCOSE knowledge exam, it is a good idea to review the list of learning objectives. They can help guide your review of the INCOSE Systems Engineering Handbook (the sole source of content for the exam) to focus on the topics that will be tested.
You can find the learning objectives posted here
Are you an INCOSE member or CAB Associate interested in reading the INCOSE Systems Engineering Handbook? Great news - you get free access to the electronic version! It is one of many free downloads from the INCOSE Store.
The INCOSE Store can be a little tricky to use. The main thing to know is that you'll have to load things into your cart, and provide your mailing address, before you get your access via email.
As described on this page
, you should first log in to incose.org, then navigate to the INCOSE Store
. Add the items you want to your cart and check out. Some items have costs while many are free.
You can also get a discount on buying a printed copy of the handbook. That discount code is also available in the INCOSE Store.
In 2022, two ESEPs in France gave a great summary of INCOSE's Certification Program. You can see it here
In February 2023, the Certification Program Manager talked to the Chesapeake (Maryland) Chapter of INCOSE about how the program requirements have changed to become more solution-neutral. That presentation is part of the Chesapeake Chapter YouTube channel
During several zooms in the past year, I've asked the question: which fictional character would make the best systems engineer? I think most have interpreted this as, "Who is the smartest fictional character you have seen?" or, "If you were a superhero, which would you be?" The most popular responses - coming independently from multiple sessions - were Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes.
These characters are smart, just like us! More significantly, they look at more than just one subsystem or perspective. Whether they are building hardware or breaking apart a web of deceit, they are considering more than just the question at hand.
What other fictional characters exhibit the characteristics of good systems engineers? Consider using this as part of introductions at your next INCOSE gathering. Or, stay tuned for our next icebreaker question.
INCOSE's first and primary certification level, Certified Systems Engineering Professional (CSEP), is the right fit for most systems engineers. Those who can work independently to tailor and implement systems engineering activities are probably qualified to be CSEPs.
How do we check that probably? We have a team of dozens of volunteer reviewers. They look through individuals' reports on their systems engineering activities and they compare those to what the references state. This thorough review is unlike what some other certification programs do. We have human eyes on every application package. This takes some time, both to perform that review and because of the logistics of assigning reviews and filling in gaps, but it's worth it. INCOSE CSEPs are reliably good.
Today marks the start day for INCOSE’s fifth class of interns. That's right, it's plural this year! INCOSE's Marketing and Communications team (MARCOM) has joined the Certification Program in welcoming engineering students to improve their systems engineering skills and contribute to INCOSE as interns. They'll be learning about INCOSE, connecting with SE leaders from around the world, and providing a new perspective as they help work on a long list of projects.
INCOSE will hire its next group of interns in November, for work to be performed in December through February. Candidates from the Southern Hemisphere are particularly sought. Applying for these paid internships through INCOSE's Volunteer Opportunity Board.
INCOSE does not require formal or paid preparation activities as part of applying for or renewing INCOSE certification. However, free and low-cost learning opportunities are currently more plentiful in wealthy communities. The INCOSE Professional Development Portal (PDP) is one way to equalize the training opportunities for INCOSE members. The INCOSE Foundation also has an initiative in work to identify training and fill gaps, with a goal of providing SE training and education for the broader, global engineering community.
Training activities are largely beyond the scope of the INCOSE Certification Program. What does fit within the Certification Program is to recruit candidates from historically unrecognized communities. This is starting with encouraging students to apply for ASEP, women to apply for ESEP, and universities outside the US to apply for Academic Equivalency. INCOSE will be increasing marketing to these audiences and will be listening for the barriers they perceive to successful certification.
What did we miss? Please email email@example.com with your suggestions on how we can change our requirements or our assessment methods to cover more of the variations in systems engineers. Or, tell us where we shouldn't change things because the risk is too great that we'll falsely approve someone for certification.
We are interested to know: do you perceive the current false positive (approved for Certification but wasn't qualified) or false negative (denied Certification but was qualified) rates to be high or low? How much further could they move before we'd have a credibility problem?
INCOSE interviews its ESEP candidates over the phone, with no video and with pre-planned questions, at a time agreed to by the reviewers and the candidate. The lack of video is intentional, to avoid any bias that could come from the reviewers seeing the candidate. Similarly, planning the questions in advance improves the consistency of assessments across all candidates. Finally, interviews are not scheduled at extreme times for candidates, and candidates have the opportunity to reject times that are unsuitable for any reason.
Several updates to reviews are being tested, and are available upon request. First, all female candidates will have at least one woman as part of their review team. Second, all candidates who indicate that their native language is other than English will have at least one non-native English speaker as part of their review team. Third, candidates will have the opportunity to have the interview questions displayed in text on the screen during the interview if they request this prior to the day of the interview.
The interview is not intended to be a test of a candidate’s English mastery. It is not intended to be a test of hearing or speech clarity. INCOSE is working to reduce any bias of these forms.
The INCOSE Certification Program's knowledge requirement has been the same since the program's start: knowledge of systems engineering processes and terms as described in the INCOSE SE Handbook. The validation methods for this requirement have also held steady, with draft exam questions tested on large, diverse groups of candidates. The verification methods for this requirement, however, have changed over time.
The initial verification method for the knowledge requirement is the INCOSE knowledge exam, offered in computer test centers worldwide. In 2014, the Certification Program began widespread offerings of the knowledge exam through pencil-and-paper in classrooms and conference rooms at INCOSE events. In 2020, INCOSE began offering the knowledge exam online with a remote, video proctor. As of 2022, the two ways to take the INCOSE knowledge exam are online from a personal location with a remote, video proctor and in-person using pencil and paper at an INCOSE event with an INCOSE-approved proctor in the room.
In 2013, INCOSE began forming relationships with other providers to recognize their knowledge assessments as equivalent or better than the knowledge exam. The first equivalency was within the German SE Zert. This led the way to verification through assessments other than multiple-choice tests and to assessment in language other than English. The Academic Equivalency Program that began in 2018 formalized allowing both of these differences from the INCOSE knowledge exam. Academic Equivalency (AcEq) is for universities that assess systems engineering knowledge, using the INCOSE SE Handbook, and it does not restrict the methods of assessment or the language used. The INCOSE Certification Program is actively searching for universities whose assessments or students differ from the traditional INCOSE SEPs, to reach a broader audience and ensure the path to INCOSE Certification is equitable.
Since its initial creation of the CSEP certification level, the INCOSE Certification Program required individuals who knew the candidate to submit reference statements confirming the work the candidate had done. These statements had to be made within INCOSE's form and had to come from someone who understood systems engineering well enough to recognize it being performed.
In recent years, the Certification Program has made it clear that the reference provider (aka, the referent) does not need to be a systems engineer, a CSEP, nor an INCOSE member. This is helpful to those candidates who are the only systems engineer in their organization. The referents do need to understand systems engineering, but that understanding is something they can develop through teaching from the SEP candidate. The referent also doesn't have to be more experienced than the candidate. This is helpful to those who are at the top of their organization and do not have a manager who can write a reference. Peers, clients, and in some cases subordinates are acceptable referents.
In the past two years, the Certification Program has quietly made another change that is directly intended to help non-native speakers of English. Reference submissions used to be required to use text written independently of the candidate's application, with the guidance that it be in the own words of the referent. This was a problem both culturally - as many Americans are accustomed to writing letters of reference for themselves, and then having managers sign them - and for those referents who now found their writing scrutinized for being either too similar to the application text to be independent or too dissimilar to offer corroboration. This unique text is no longer required. Referents may now copy and paste text from the application form. They must add a statement of their own like, "I agree with the text pasted below."
The Certification Program is working toward a goal where references can be shown the application text and initial or otherwise mark to confirm their agreement, without having to write independent statements. That will not occur in 2022 but will be implemented as soon as technology supports it.
The INCOSE Board of Directors recently approved a modification to the application fees for ASEP certification. The fees now align with PPP pricing as used for individual memberships. PPP pricing takes into account the average income levels across countries and helps adjust prices so that those with lower incomes pay lower rates.
As systems engineers, we often start our analysis of options by asking, "What the problem we're trying to solve?" INCOSE Certification has a problem that it is not currently recognizing competent systems engineers from low-income parts of the world. We are looking to mitigate that by making the burden of certification fees more comparable to the burden felt for individuals in high-income countries. We believe in the concept of adjusting costs relative to income level, and PPP is the blunt instrument INCOSE has chosen to make those adjustments. For consistency, the Certification Program has chosen to use that same tool for its cost adjustments.
There are several other fee adjustments the Certification Program has already made to be more equitable. They are worth reflecting on. First, there are exam fees. The online exam fee is standard for all candidates, even if they require accommodations that raise the cost of delivery (e.g., a proctor staying on for additional time). Those fees are not passed along to the candidates but rather are accounted for in the standard fee paid by all. Similarly, in-person, paper exams are offered at a flat rate regardless of the costs of proctor travel. If we did not do this, then the communities with the most SEPs, already, would also have the most available proctors and cheapest exam fees, thereby exacerbating imbalance. Two final differences in in-person exam fees: student are not charged a fee for an in-person exam and fees are often waived for beta exams.
The second and third certification fees are application fees and renewal fees. ASEP application fees are now adjusted as described at the top of this post. A further, temporary reduction for ASEPs who apply from Academic Equivalencies in low-income countries will be announced in late 2022. There are currently no AcEq programs in PPP2 and PPP3 countries, so that additional discount is not yet relevant. Adjustments on CSEP and ESEP application fees will be considered in the coming year, along with adjustments on renewal fees.
INCOSE often offers the certification knowledge exam at its in-person events. This is a great chance to take the exam to qualify for ASEP or CSEP certification, often at a discount from the online exam.
At the INCOSE International Symposium in 2022, we will offer the knowledge exam twice plus we have two additional events planned: a luncheon for all SEPs and a workshop to help universities prepare Academic Equivalency (AcEq) applications. The luncheon will be open to all SEPs who are attending the conference, and it will be a chance to network with each other and to play some easy party games. The AcEq workshop is scheduled for two hours, starting with an overview of the application form and then going into open discussion between current and potential AcEq university representatives.
In addition to these special events, all SEPs who attend INCOSE events - either in-person or remotely - may claim PDUs toward their certification renewal.
The Certification Advisory Group (CAG) is a set of nine volunteers who advise the INCOSE Board of Directors about the direction of the Certification Program. Members serve three-year terms and are also responsible for managing certification denial appeals and advising on policy changes. Most CAG members are ESEPs, and they come from all three global sectors of INCOSE.
The current members of the CAG are shown at this page: