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  • Graduate perspective on Academic Equivalency: Diego Custódio Rangel, ASEP

    by Mrunmayi Joshi | Sep 04, 2022
    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. 

    Q1. What is your current role/position?

    » I am a Systems Engineer.

    Q2. What are your next career goals?

    » My next career goals are to obtain the CSEP certification level, improve my modeling skills using SysML and the MBSE approach, and pursue a Ph.D. degree.

    Q3. What have you learned about systems engineering in school?

    » I learned about SE fundamentals, how to develop the system architecture, the system integration process, and verification and validation techniques.

    Q4. What interests you about systems engineering?

    » System architecture and design, systems integration and requirements writing interests me.

    Q5. What motivated you to get SEP certification?

    » I understood that it is essential to certify your knowledge, especially at the beginning of your career. The SEP certification is an excellent way to demonstrate your qualification standard since it is internationally recognized. This motivated me to get SEP Certification.

    Q6. How did the academic equivalency program benefit you?

    » I learned about the SEP certification at NPS. When I was offered the opportunity to apply for the academic equivalency, I did not doubt that this was the best way to obtain the ASEP certification. There was a person to guide me through the process, making it quick and easy compared to friends that received the certification in the traditional way.

    Q7. How did taking courses under the academic equivalency program help you deepen your understanding of SE?

    » Teamworking is a crucial part of the SE job, and each one of the courses that I took reinforced this soft skill. Besides, the classes were a hands-on opportunity to apply the SE approach to designing and tools. Also, the examples provided during these courses were essential for correctly understanding the concepts provided by the INCOSE Systems Engineering Handbook.

    Q8. What is your advice for students and research professionals pursuing SEP certification?

    »  If you are enrolled in a SE program and have the opportunity to obtain the SEP certification by the academic equivalency program, do not miss this! For those preparing themselves for the exam, I suggest you do not skip any chapter in your study of the INCOSE Systems Engineering Handbook; there will be questions for all of them, so it is an excellent strategy to get some knowledge of all of them.

    Q9. How can we reach out to you?

    » You can reach me at:

    Know more about academic equivalency from here.
  • Faculty Perspective of Academic Equivalency: Robert F. Bordley , ESEP

    by Mrunmayi Joshi | Sep 03, 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.

    Q1. What is your role related to INCOSE’s Academic Equivalency?

    » I am the Program Director of University of Michigan's Systems Engineering and Design Degree Program. Program achieved equivalency last year.

    Q2. What is one of your proudest professional achievements?

    » My proudest professional achievement is that I received chairman's award for developing systems model which identified more than $250 Million of cost savings for General Motors, all of which were realized in one year. I crafted the key elements of a revenue management system which saved the company more than a billion.

    Q3. What skills do you think a systems engineer should develop during their education?

    » The skills that a systems engineer best learns through training are:
    1) Developing requirements using state of the art marketing and design sciences approaches.
    2) Decision trees and risk Management, Volatile requirements management
    3) How to select the most cost-effective verification procedure.
    4) How to develop quantitative systems models.

    Q4. What was your university’s motivation behind joining the academic equivalency program?

    » Our motivation behind obtaining an academic equivalency was increasing employability of students.

    Q5. What do you see as the benefits of the academic equivalency program for a university and a student?

    » Academic equivalency benefits students by increasing employability of the students.

    Q6. What methods do you use to teach SE courses effectively?

    »  Method used by us to teach SE courses effectively is : integration of practical applications in teaching new methods

    Q7. How do your SE courses help students to deepen their understanding of systems engineering?

    » To remove some of the mystery associated with the systems process, we developed a visual M with zigzag design blueprint to show the skeleton of the systems process. The first course goes through the process with associated methods. The second course focuses on software, both MBSE and statistical software, important in the process. The third course focuses on student teams using the process to solve real problems. The students can then specialize depending upon their area of interest.

    Q8. How do your SE courses differ from those at other universities?

    » Since I have been very successful both as a practitioner and academic, my courses integrate both academic rigor with practical relevance.

    Q9. What is your advice for universities or institutes considering applying for academic equivalency?

    » Don't create a single course, taught by an adjunct, to satisfy the academic equivalency. Students are less likely to invest the time to take your academic program. Instead fully integrate the elements of the handbook into all of the core courses.

    Q10. How can we reach out to you?

    » You can reach me at:

    Know more about academic equivalency from here

  • Trainer perspective on the SEP Certification: René King, ASEP

    by Mrunmayi Joshi | Sep 02, 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!

    Rene King

     This interview was done in 2022.

    Q1. What is your current role/position?

    » I am the Managing Director of Certification Training International (CTI).

    Q2. What is one of your proudest professional achievements?

    » My proudest achievement is working with Robert Halligan (PPI), John Nallon (INCOSE), and Stephane Lacrampe (Obeo) on the INCOSE-PPI Systems Engineering Tools Database since 2018 and bringing the SETDB to an initial operational capability in 2021.

    Q3. What skills do you think a systems engineer best learns through training?
    » Context analysis, transforming needs into requirements, writing low-risk requirements, effective decision-making based on stakeholder-valued outcomes, engineering specialty integration, and modeling techniques in the problem definition and solution space are the skills a systems engineer best learns through training. 

    Q4. What guidance/training do you provide students regarding systems engineering and SEP certification?
    » CTI is a subsidiary of PPI - a leader in SE training and consulting for 30 years. Leveraging on PPI's experience with training, CTI uses established adult-learning principles and techniques to help students place their practical experience in the context of the INCOSE Systems Engineering Handbook. We aim to support our clients in acquiring and maximizing the value of their SE certification. We offer an intensive Five-Day INCOSE SEP Exam Prep training that not focuses on how to pass the INCOSE Knowledge Exam, how to prepare a CSEP application, and how to maintain SEP certification status over time.

    Q5. What motivated you to provide these trainings?
    » We wanted to encourage our clients to develop a healthy appetite for continuous improvement and found the SEP certification program an excellent tool to achieve this. CTI also recognized that memorizing a 300-page handbook is not easy, so we leveraged the 30 years of SE and consulting experience within PPI to develop a course that would make learning and understanding the INCOSE SE Handbook and its value as simple and effective as possible within five days. CTI also realized the importance of our clients placing their practical experience in the context of the language of the INCOSE SEH for maximum learning and retention for the INCOSE Knowledge Exam and beyond. We developed our INCOSE SEP Exam Prep course with this in mind.

    Q6. What methods do you use to provide these trainings effectively?

    » Following are the method used by us to provide these trainings:
    1) Extensive practice in writing and answering questions akin to the INCOSE Knowledge Exam
    2) Frequent Q&A segments throughout the training
    3) Many practical workshops to fuse practical experience and case studies with the vocabulary and concepts described in the INCOSE SEH
    4) A strong focus on capturing and reviewing client-valued learning outcomes
    5) Daily reflections and feedback to improve on the training throughout the week to maximize achievement of the client-valued learning outcomes
    6) Other adult learning techniques including pattern finding, case-study analysis, use of aide-memoirs, and role-playing 

    Q7. How do you continue to learn about Systems engineering? What developmental activities do you do?
    » I attend systems engineering conferences, read articles, and attend webinars related to SE frequently. I am continuously discussing how to make SE more accessible with my colleagues. l also work with my colleague John Fitch on the monthly PPI Systems Engineering News journal to bring fresh SE-related articles, news, and resources to the engineering community.

    Q8. How can we reach out to you?
    » You can reach me at :

    Find out more about training providers here.
  • Faculty Perspective on Academic Equivalency: Dale Thomas, ESEP

    by Mrunmayi Joshi | Sep 01, 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! 

    Dale Thomas        

    This interview was done in 2022.

    Q1. What is your role related to INCOSE’s Academic Equivalency?

    » I am the point of contact for academic equivalency at University of Alabama in Huntsville.

    Q2. What is one of your proudest professional achievements?

    » I led systems engineering & integration for the International Space Station.

    Q3. What skills do you think a systems engineer should develop during their education?

    » General systems skills (Systems Thinking, requirements elicitation & development, test & verification) complimented by discipline engineering skills relevant to the systems domain (aerospace, IT, etc.) in which the engineer works need to be developed by system engineers during their education.

    Q4. What was your university’s motivation behind joining the academic equivalency program?

    » Student ASEP certification are viewed very positively by area employers, this motivated University of Alabama in Huntsville to start an academic equivalency program.

    Q5. What do you see as the benefits of the academic equivalency program for a university and a student?

    » Academic Equivalency establishes a common benchmark of Systems Engineering skills for students and aids the university in curricular development.

    Q6. What methods do you use to teach SE courses effectively?

    » I illustrate SE principles with actual examples from my own experience and from the literature. It requires SE case studies of graduates and group project to write a SEMP for undergraduates.

    Q7. How do your SE courses help students to deepen their understanding of systems engineering?

    » Our SE courses help students deepen their understanding of Systems Engineering by requiring the students to think about principles of systems engineering in application for the case studies (graduates) or group projects (undergraduates).

    Q8. What is your advice for universities or institutes considering applying for academic equivalency?

    » It's a lot of work. Be diligent and deliberate in preparing the application.

    Q9. How can we reach out to you?

    » You can reach me at :

    Know more on academic equivalency here.


  • Attention training providers!

    by Mrunmayi Joshi | Aug 31, 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:
    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: 
  • It's Almost SEPtember

    by Courtney Wright | Aug 26, 2022
    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.SEP_wardrobe_smaller
  • SE Handbook Transition Impacts on Knowledge Exam

    by Courtney Wright | Aug 19, 2022
    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. 
  • Using the INCOSE Learning Objectives to prepare to take the knowledge exam

    by Courtney Wright | Aug 12, 2022
    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
  • The INCOSE Store

    by Courtney Wright | Aug 05, 2022
    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, 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. 
  • Talking About INCOSE Certification

    by Courtney Wright | Jul 29, 2022
    In 2022, two ESEPs in France gave a great summary of INCOSE's Certification Program. You can see it here (with subtitles).

    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
  • Which fictional character would make the best systems engineer?

    by Courtney Wright | Jul 22, 2022
    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. 
  • How is INCOSE Certification different?

    by Courtney Wright | Jul 15, 2022
    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. 
  • Here come the interns!

    by Courtney Wright | Jul 08, 2022

    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

  • How do we make certification more equitable? Part Five - What Else?

    by Courtney Wright | Jul 01, 2022

    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 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?
  • How do we make certification more equitable? Part Four - Interview

    by Courtney Wright | Jun 24, 2022

    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.

  • How do we make certification more equitable? Part Three - Knowledge

    by Courtney Wright | Jun 17, 2022
    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.
  • How do we make certification more equitable? Part Two - references

    by Courtney Wright | Jun 10, 2022
    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. 
  • How do we make certification more equitable? Part One - Fees

    by Courtney Wright | Jun 03, 2022
    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. 
  • What certification activities happen at INCOSE events?

    by Courtney Wright | May 27, 2022
    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. 
  • What is the CAG?

    by Courtney Wright | May 20, 2022
    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: