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A better world through a systems approach
  • Interview with Wayne Biden, CSEP

    by Courtney Wright | Sep 02, 2021

    SEP Interview - Wayne Biden PhotoThe interview presents information from 2014 and updates from 2021:

    Q1: Describe your current position/role.

    2014 - Wayne is a Combat Systems Architect and a Systems Engineering manager for the group he works in. He has been with Thales for 25 years. In his role, Wayne is responsible for ensuring changes made to the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) Adelaide Class Frigate (FFG) Combat Systems are robust and satisfy legacy and new customer requirements, safety standards, fitness for purpose expectations, and environmental regulations.

    2021 - I am the Systems and Specialty Engineering Manager for the business unit I work in.  I have been with Thales for 32 years.  In my role, I am responsible for ensuring that the Systems and Specialty (Safety, ILS, Cybersecurity) engineering capability is aligned to deliver the projects to their customers, ensuring resourcing, tool, practice and process are optimized.

    Q2: What are one or two of your proudest professional accomplishments?

    2014 - Wayne was responsible for designing upgrades to the “identification friend or foe” (IFF) system for the RAN FFG to integrate the system with the Combat Management System. He was also responsible for negotiating and obtaining agreement with the customer for acceptance of the overall Combat System upgrade as part of a major overhaul of RAN FFG vessels. Not all of the requirements for this system supported straightforward verification – some were ambiguous which made outcomes subject to interpretation, some were too abstract and impossible to fulfill. The project customer, representing the user, didn’t want to change the requirements during contract establishment. Wayne led the effort to negotiate agreement of satisfying users need rather than the explicit requirements as the means of gaining acceptance for completion of the upgrade. Adding complexity to acceptance were problems with legacy systems that impacted successful completion of test activities.

    2021 - In a previous role as Engineering Manager, I was responsible for achieving a resolution between international business units on remediation activities to fulfill a system capability involving an acoustic sensor system for a submarine.  The project and their partner were unable to agree on the problems, nor the path to resolution within the time frame available.  I brought the key stakeholders together and through facilitated workshops prioritization was given to which issues would be resolved and how to enable delivery.

    Q3: What is the biggest challenge you face as a Systems Engineer?

    2014 - Knowing the correct amount of tailoring to apply to any given project or activity. This is something one often learns through experience, since the challenges for each project aren’t the same time to time. It’s often a hard sell to the company as well as the customer. To satisfy the company’s business objectives, management would like the minimum effort (cost) and risk possible, but as a Systems Engineer, you know that risk aversion can only be fulfilled through implementing SE processes and activities. The challenge is to select the correct amount of these to ensure an acceptable level of risk for the project.

    2021 - Including the right amount of resource allocation for specialties.  Often specialties, like safety, security, ILS, etc. get minimal budget.  During projects, when their input is needed it is not often planned or time-aligned resulting in extra effort and schedule delays.

    Q4: What advice do you have for individuals starting their career as a Systems Engineer?

    2014 - Wayne’s advice to an individual starting their career is to: question your understanding of the problem holistically, not just by looking at the requirements. Look at how the customer intends to use the product or service, how they want to maintain it, and how they want to dispose of it. An SE needs a thorough understanding of the customer’s overall needs. As an example, Defense customers often want product support through the end of life, and if this need is not considered early enough in the development, you won’t have a satisfactory product or service at the end.

    Wayne began his career as an electrician, worked for a defense company, then completed an Electrical Engineering degree. In a discipline degree program, one learns techniques for doing detailed research and investigation, but not necessarily to have the “larger picture” view of the Systems Engineer.

    Q5: How do you continue to learn about SE? What professional development activities do you do?

    2014 - Recently completed online refresher course in SE; and does short course training. He attends conferences such as those held by the Systems Engineering Society of Australia (SESA) which is an affiliate of INCOSE; is writing CSEP exam questions for INCOSE SE Handbook V4; and does document research via standards.

    2021 - Currently undertaking online learning and local (company) short training on systems engineering topics including practice and tools. Some of this is extension training (eg. Cybersecurity), some reinforcement.  I attend conferences such as those held by the Systems Engineering Society of Australia (SESA) which is an affiliate of INCOSE.  As the current Chartered Australian Systems Engineer (CASE) manager for SESA, I participate in a number of interviews with Australian systems engineers and learn about the types of systems engineering they perform.

    Q6: What are the next career goals you want to achieve?

    2014 - Wayne plans to teach Systems Engineering theory and practice as part of an in-house program for Thales. He is working toward becoming an internationally recognized SE expert within the company.

    2021 - I am working toward becoming an internationally recognized SE expert within the company.

    Q7: What are some of your hobbies/interest outside of work?

    2014 - Outside of work Wayne enjoys playing football, attending musical theater, bush walking, family outings, camping, and watching motorsports.

    Q8:  Are there any other final comments you would like to make?

    2014 - It’s very fulfilling for Wayne to participate in the extra-curricular activities of Systems Engineering such as attending conferences, working on the SEP exam questions, and conducting training to further develop other SE practitioners.

    2021 - It’s very fulfilling for me to participate in the extra-curricular activities of Systems Engineering such as attending conferences, performing SEP reviews, and conducting training to further develop other SE practitioners.

    In 2021, we reached out to Mr. Biden to answer more questions:

    Q9: Why did you decide to get the SEP certification?

    2021 - I got SEP certification to enable recognition of the standing within the systems engineering profession by external entities (customers, industry) and also for the pride of achieving a benchmark of capability in the profession.

    Q10: How does the SEP certification impact your professional career?

    2021 - It has enabled me to participate within the systems engineering domain with respect and recognition from peers and customers and has enabled my company to delegate responsibility for solution acceptance and sign-off.

    Q11: What has surprised you in the past five years related to systems engineering?

    2021 - There has been a greater push to systems of systems engineering involving autonomous equipment focusing on large amounts of information acquisition for consumption, processing and use.  Also, the move to digital twins and greater model-based simulation of systems for risk reduction and ongoing system support.

    Q12: What job titles have you had other than “Systems Engineer?”

    2021 -

    • Requirements Engineer
    • Combat System Design Authority
    • Systems Engineering Manager
    • Engineering Manager
    • Systems and Specialty Engineering Manager
  • Interview with Laurie Nasta, CSEP

    by Courtney Wright | Sep 01, 2021

    SEP Interview 04 - Laurie Nasta photoThe following questions are from an interview in 2014:

    Q1: Describe your current position/role.

    Laurie is a senior systems engineer for a major defense contractor in the Washington D.C. Area.   She supports a Government IT program in a governance role, where she performs requirements analysis, architecture implementation, strategic planning, and outreach to the larger IT user community.

    Q2: What are one or two of your proudest professional accomplishments?

    One of Laurie's proudest accomplishments was when she made a convincing argument, backed by systems engineering analysis, to cancel a program that was duplicating what an active program already effectively performed. She faced tremendous resistance, from both inside her organization and outside, to keep the other program alive. No one ever likes to see work eliminated, but this decision, while difficult, saved the Government (and therefore the U.S. taxpayers) millions of dollars.

    Another example was when Laurie was working in Configuration Management (CM) and Logistics.  She had a boss who had no idea what she did, or what the value of her role was as Lead Engineer on the program. Laurie educated her boss on the importance of CM and how involving CM earlier will save a program time and money.  Her boss allowed her to implement early CM audits, which uncovered a major defect at Preliminary Design Review (PDR), which would have been very costly to correct later.  Correcting the defect delayed the completion of PDR for a month, but reduced cycle time in the operational program from three weeks to three days.  Afterward, her boss told Laurie, “You were right – it was worth it!”

    Q3: What is the biggest challenge you face as a Systems Engineer?

    The biggest challenge Laurie faces is when she knows something is wrong, but it may not be politically correct or accepted to say so.  A Systems Engineer has to have the integrity to stand up for their convictions and get the point across.

    Q4: What advice do you have for individuals starting their career as a Systems Engineer?

    Laurie advises new Systems Engineers not to get stuck in a rut doing the same thing.  Instead, gain experience in multiple areas to truly understand what it means to be a Systems Engineer.  Do not knock the approach of “learning by doing” as experience is the best teacher!

    Q5: How do you continue to learn about SE? What professional development activities do you do?

    Laurie continues her professional development by continuing to add certifications (she has five at this time), attends conferences (she has presented at several), taking advantage of the wealth of on-line learning resources, and participating in other related associations (such as the Innovative Solutions Consortium).  Laurie was also the president of the Washington Metropolitan Area (WMA) Chapter of INCOSE during 2012-2013.

    Q6: What are the next career goals you want to achieve?

    Laurie is working to obtain her INCOSE ESEP certification.  She wants to have a research paper accepted at the INCOSE conference and stay gainfully employed in a rewarding and interesting job!

    Q7: What are some of your hobbies/interests outside of work?

    Laurie enjoys bike riding, Pilates, yoga, karaoke, and keeping up with her teenage boys and their activities.

    Q8:  Are there any other final comments you would like to make?

    Laurie encourages young Systems Engineers to find a mentor they respect that they would like to emulate to help them excel in their careers.  Experienced engineers need to find ways to get connected with younger engineers. It is a challenge because of hectic schedules, but very important. Do not be afraid to fail because that is how we learn. If one does not learn from their mistakes, they are doomed to repeat them!

    In 2021, we reached out to Ms. Nasta to answer more questions:

    Q9: Why did you decide to get the SEP certification?

    First of all, I was in the original 'beta' class for the earliest SEP tests; the test was over 400 questions, and we were given 8 hrs.; I finished in 4 or 4.5 hrs.  At this point in my career, I had been doing systems engineering work but was called by different names:  logistics analyst/engineer, configuration management analyst/engineer, and program management analyst.  But I was doing technical work on submarine communication and combat systems.  However, I found that those other 'titles' were often construed as administrative, or non-technical.  I felt I had experienced the whole systems engineering life-cycle in the many programs I supported, and understood multiple areas of SE and could demonstrate my knowledge to prove it.  So, while others, including my manager at the time were hesitant to take the test, I felt it could truly demonstrate my knowledge and experience was more than my job titles.  I passed that initial test (believe I was CSEP #47), and continued to demonstrate my knowledge, experience, and leadership by being certified as an ESEP a few years ago.  I also passed the Acquisition Extension, which is no longer offered as an exam/certification, which has also demonstrated my knowledge and experience in this specialized domain as well. 

    Q10: How does the SEP certification impact your professional career?

    Being among some of the first SEPs in the field, initially it had more intrinsic value then overt career benefits.  I had 'bragging rights' and was sometimes cited as one of a few certified SEs in the company.  It also gave me confidence, and I used my platform as a certified SEP to persuade others of the certifications value.  I can remember working in a government program office and managing to persuade two of my government customers that they should get certified.  I would say it has only been in more recent years -- maybe last 10 or so, that I have really seen job requirements actually called for CSEPs or ESEPs.  I have also advocated to government folks and government HR folks to recognize it from an equivalency perspective for some government engineering positions, but that is a hard field to plow.  Would love to see INCOSE do more to convince the government agencies we SEs support recognize the certification in a meaningful way, especially for those of us who are non-traditional (traditional = education) SEs.

    Q11: What has surprised you in the past five years related to systems engineering?

    I would say that the recognition of SEs importance in many more domain areas than the longstanding DOD/military/aerospace.  Also, that the need for good SE just seems to continue to increase as the complexity of systems increase, as well as world problems/crises.  It bodes well for the profession.  I also am heartened to see more focus on the 'soft skills' side of SE and the rise of SE competency models for use in hiring and advancement.  Sadly, there is still a huge gap in the HR world on what an SE is, and how they can help projects....we are not coders, modelers, Systems Admins, etc...there are some SEs that might have these skills or do these types of functions, but it does not represent the full nature of a trained SE, esp a certified one with experience in multiple SE disciplines.  This is another area where an INCOSE public relations campaign can change a world of perspectives. 

    Q12: What job titles have you had other than “Systems Engineer?”

    In earlier response I noted some of those other titles, some of which came with other certifications (e.g. PMP, Agile), but to reiterate:  Project Manager (PM), PM analyst, Acquisition Engineer/Analyst, Systems Analyst, Configuration Management Manager/Analyst, Logistics Engineer/Analyst, and Supportability Engineer.  But my favorite title is MOM; and, yes, SE has helped me be a better Mom too!

  • How long is the exam?

    by Courtney Wright | Aug 27, 2021
    The exam, plus registration and instructions, typically takes between 2 and 3 hours.

    Every version of the exam has 100 scored questions. This is true no matter how many exam questions are given to each candidate. All candidates are given at least one minute per exam question.

    Candidates whose native language is English are given as as many minutes for the exam as they have questions. This is 100 minutes for a 100-item exam, 120 minutes for a 120-item exam, or 150 minutes for a 150-item exam.

    Candidates whose native language is other than English are offered additional time. They get 30 minutes extra for 100- or 120-item exams and 40 minutes extra for 150-item exams. They are given 130 minutes for a 100-item exam, 150 minutes for a 120-item exam, and 190 minutes for a 150-item exam. Most exams have either 100 or 120 items.

    A candidate should expect 20 to 30 minutes of instructions and registration before an exam starts.
  • Meet our first intern, Daniela Cantarino

    by Courtney Wright | Aug 20, 2021

    Daniela Cantarino had the opportunity to intern for the INCOSE Certification Program during the second and third quarter of 2020, mentored by Courtney Wright. However, her story does not quite begin in the United States. She is originally from Spain but had a multicultural upbringing, living in different countries including U.A.E, Switzerland and Italy. She has been therefore exposed to multiple cultures, languages and traditions, making her a “melting pot”. Ultimately, she ended up in the land known as the “melting pot” itself, the United States. In particular, she got her bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of South Florida in Tampa, FL. Although the latter is a great accomplishment, Daniela constantly seeks challenges to expand her knowledge and further understand her passions. This led her to continue her studies, pursuing a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering at the University of South Florida, where today she is concentrating her research in the Healthcare System. Her interest in the latter was mainly fueled by her involvement in different healthcare systems around the world and the inevitable comparison among them.

    Focusing on her tasks and achievements during her time at INCOSE, Daniela analyzed and interpreted data associated with 450,000 Professional Development Units (PDUs) from over 1,000 members with 40,000 activities claimed. Her work, alongside Courtney Wright and Rusty Eckman, was then presented during an INCOSE webinar (#141) aided with visual representations of the data trends. Prior to this presentation, Daniela also participated in another INCOSE webinar (#139) where she and her mentor Courtney Wright explained all the Engineering Certifications offered by INCOSE. Lastly, she gathered data and created a Change Request Log to efficiently reflect the Certification Advisory Group updates and modifications to internal documentation.

    If you wish to connect with Daniela, you can find her at

  • Meet our second intern, Bhautik Vadher

    by Courtney Wright | Aug 13, 2021

    Bhautik Vadher is a graduate mechanical engineer. He pursued his Bachelor’s (Honours) degree from the University of South Australia. Before going to Australia, he completed his Diploma in Mechanical Engineering from UKA Tarsadia University, where he was awarded with 4 golden academic excellence award consecutively, for his excellent performance in the study of mechanical engineering. He has great passion for Computer Aided Design and has in-depth knowledge of Finite Element Analysis. He has led many academic projects as project manager and a leader. Some of the academic projects are: Warman 2019, Adelaide Hills Sewage Storage upgrade, MARS habitat project and Optimization of motorcycle’s engine. He volunteered as a UniMentor at University of South Australia, where he provided ongoing support, offering a friendly face to new students and helping to make their transition to University easier.

    He was INCOSE’s first certification intern from Australia. The Certification Program Manager identified his skill in creative tasks so asked him to develop INCOSE’s certification videos, illustrations, power point presentations and to create the Certification Blog. He contributed his perspectives on the Certification web site map, performed data analysis, and hosted two international webinars, working with other members of INCOSE on the preparation and delivery.

    The recordings of the webinars are posted here:

    147 Best Practices for Global Business

    146 Online Testing for Students and Professionals

    He also reached out to Kerry Lunney (INCOSE president) and other INCOSE leaders around the world to know their perspectives on global business. During his final semester at school, one of his INCOSE connections hired him for part-time work in website development and help starting up a new business, based on his exemplary work for INCOSE. 

    As he recently graduated from University of South Australia, he is excited to work with organizations and industry where he can contribute his CAD and engineering knowledge to complete projects successfully. In his leisure time he improves his skills on AutoCAD and SOLIDWORKS for 3D Model development and Photoshop, Illustrator and Premier pro for media development.

    You might want to connect with him after reading his information and work. The best way to reach him is via LinkedIn:

  • Meet our Recent Intern, Jonatan Loaiza

    by Courtney Wright | Aug 06, 2021
    Jonatan Loaiza is a graduate student from Peru. His bachelor degree is in Industrial Engineering from the Andean University of Cusco. He also has an MBA from the Rey Juan Carlos University of Spain.

    Before coming to the United States, he worked in several companies of different economic sectors such as financial, health, mining, and electric power distribution. 2021 marks his second year in the PhD program in Systems Engineering and in the U.S. His research interests are manufacturing systems, quality assurance, and risk management. His goal in the program is to improve my research skills and gain experience in the academic field. He is highly interested in studying new manufacturing approaches such as digital manufacturing and automated systems. His hobbies are playing sports, and computer games, reading books and listening to all kinds of music.

    Jonatan performed several tasks for the INCOSE Certification Program during the second and third quarter of 2021. He developed a new method of volunteer training using Google Forms and coordinated with 30 engineers from around the globe. Those interviews will appear as blog posts in September 2021. He also created online forms for submission of content from INCOSE volunteers and proposed future posts for the Certification blog. 

    Those wishing to connect with Jonatan can reach him at

  • Will INCOSE accommodate my medical needs?

    by Courtney Wright | Jul 30, 2021
    Yes. Please tell us what you need (, and we will help. 

    For the application paperwork, let us know if you use a screen reader and need help viewing the forms.

    For the exam, we can add give you extra time or breaks, and allow medical equipment, if you ask us in advance. 

    During the ESEP interview, it may be helpful to have extra time or to have the questions communicated visually as well as verbally.

    To request these or any other accommodations, use the Special Accommodations Form posted at the Certification Forms page:  and submit to before you apply or at the same time you submit your certification application.
  • May I claim PDUs for participating in the INCOSE International Symposium?

    by Courtney Wright | Jul 23, 2021
    Yes! You may claim PDUs for time you spend watching presentations (live or recorded) or participating in cafés. Learn more about INCOSE renewal on the main website. 
  • How many years of references do I need for ESEP?

    by Courtney Wright | Jul 14, 2021
    All ESEP candidates, regardless of their education or years of experience, are required to have references verify at least ten years of systems engineering experience. They do not have to verify all 20 or more years of required SE experience. This is different from CSEP applicants. There is no requirement that the references be from the most recent ten years of experience.

    Another requirement for references that differs between CSEPs and ESEPs is that ESEP references do not have to confirm a particular depth and breadth of experience. 

    Zero, one or two of the ESEP references may be interviewed over the phone as part of the ESEP assessment process. It is useful but not required to have at least two references who can speak to recent systems engineering leadership.
  • How do I know which exam I'm taking?

    by Courtney Wright | Jul 09, 2021
    Candidates for ASEP and CSEP certification take the same exam. You do not need to declare which certification you plan to get when you take the exam. It's the same questions and the same passing score required no matter which certification level you will pursue.

    Candidates testing online or on paper take the same exam ... sort of. All candidates take at least 100 exam questions, and only those 100 questions are scored. Some candidates also take another 20 or 50 questions that are not scored. Those are beta questions that INCOSE is testing on the candidate, to decide if we should use them in the future. They do not affect your score. If you take any beta questions, you may also be asked demographic questions, like how many years of experience you have. These also do not affect your score or the required passing score.
  • Who reviews my certification application?

    by Courtney Wright | Jul 02, 2021
    The volunteers who review CSEP and ESEP application packages are Certification Application Reviewers (CARs). They are CSEPs and ESEPs who have completed training about the certification application requirements. You can express your interest in one of the Certification Program's formal roles, including CAR, through the INCOSE Volunteer Opportunity Board.
  • How can my university get an Academic Equivalency?

    by Courtney Wright | Jun 25, 2021
    The INCOSE Certification Program recognizes multiple verification methods for an applicant's knowledge of the Systems Engineering Handbook. One method is the knowledge exam. Another method is to recognize assessments done as part of a university program. Academic Equivalencies (AcEqs) are this second path.

    A university considering having its students' schoolwork credited toward the INCOSE knowledge exam should first review the information INCOSE has posted online. There are both administrative and technical requirements that can be met in parallel.

    Administratively, a university must be a member of the INCOSE Academic Council or international equivalent. They must also sign an agreement with INCOSE about the execution of the AcEq. 

    The technical requirements for AcEq approval are captured as a compliance checklist. INCOSE provides a template listing learning objectives (LOs) and asks a university to complete the list by describing which courses and which assessment methods are used against each LO. The most challenging part of this task for most universities is that they are used to describing what they teach, not what they assess. It is acceptable to INCOSE that a university assesses against topics they do not teach, but it is not acceptable to lecture on a required topic but to leave that topic unassessed.  
  • Where are the SEPs?

    by Courtney Wright | Jun 12, 2021
    As of the second quarter of 2021, the INCOSE Certification Program has over 3800 SEPs, with approximately 2/3 from North America, primarily the United States. Outside the US, the leading countries with SEPs are the UK, Germany, Australia, Turkey, France, Italy, and Sweden. All of these countries have 100 or more SEPs. 

    Employers with the most SEPs are Northrop Grumman Corporation, Lockheed Martin, Booz Allen Hamilton, SAIC, Airbus, and Thales. They are followed by other large defense and aerospace companies.

    The Certification Program posts a presentation of SEP statistics on the INCOSE website, here: 
  • Who can proctor an INCOSE exam?

    by Courtney Wright | Jun 11, 2021
    The INCOSE Certification Program requires verification of SE knowledge as part of the ASEP and CSEP certification levels. This verification is typically performed by passing the knowledge exam. Knowledge may also be verified through Academic Equivalency

    The most popular way to take the knowledge exam before the pandemic was in a classroom. As the pandemic risks reduce, INCOSE is opening back up to this format. INCOSE chapters may request to host an in-person exam. They need to provide a facility and a proctor. Proctors must be CSEPs or ESEPs who are endorsed by their Chapter President, or members of the international Board of Directors. They must have no conflicts of interest with having access to the exam content. The Certification Program Manager approves all proctors.

    Individuals around the world may take the INCOSE knowledge exam online, using their personal computers and web cameras. 
  • Online Exam

    by Courtney Wright | May 21, 2021

    INCOSE is now offering the knowledge exam online, using your personal computer and a remote proctor. One of our interns has created a video explaining what it’s like to take the exam online. Watch that here:

    The online testing follows the same rules as in-person testing, explained on our testing page. One new feature we’re rolling out with online testing is that you can now take the exam before you apply for certification. Once you indicate your interest in the exam, we’ll send you a registration link to choose a time and pay for the exam.

    In all exam offerings, you may get special accommodations if English is not your native language or if you have a learning or medical reason to need extra time. It is important that you tell us if you qualify for special accommodations when you first sign up for the exam.

  • What documentation do I need to renew my certification?

    by Courtney Wright | May 14, 2021
    INCOSE's Certification Program requires that ASEPs and CSEPs continue their professional development after their certification. They list their professional development activities in their renewal paperwork. Proof of these activities should not be submitted to INCOSE unless requested for an audit. 

    If you are requested to submit verification materials, you may send a copy of registration information, certificates, or a letter from another participant confirming your attendance. 

    For INCOSE webinars, we will have a record of your attendance if you participated live. If you watched a recording, we will not have proof of that. If you watch a recording on YouTube while you are logged into a user account, you can confirm that through your Watch List. 

    The renewal activity of Consuming SE-related media does not require verification. All other activities may.

    Renewing Certification
  • What happens if I'm denied certification?

    by Courtney Wright | May 07, 2021
    The primary reason for being denied INCOSE Certification is that a review team has been unable to confirm that you meet the experience requirements based on your application, references, or interview (ESEPs). If you wish to reapply, you are advised to review the shortfalls noted in your denial letter and address those before submitting a new application. You will have to pay a new application fee. 

    If you apply for ESEP and are denied, you will be given the opportunity to apply for CSEP without having to pay an additional fee. You will still need to meet the requirements for CSEP, including passing the knowledge exam. 

    If you apply for CSEP and are denied, you may become an ASEP after you pass the knowledge exam. 

    If you believe that the process of reviewing your certification application was not followed correctly, you may submit an appeal. This is not an opportunity to submit additional information or to disagree with the assessment. 
  • ESEP Leadership

    by Courtney Wright | Apr 30, 2021

    The distinguishing characteristic of an ESEP is that he or she is a leader in systems engineering, having contributed to the field through a combination of graduate academics, product development, and technical society involvement. It is not expected that all CSEPs will move up to become ESEPs simply through the passage of time. Nor can someone earn the title of ESEP purely through higher education. 

    An ESEP is given credit for completed degree programs, with a maximum of 1 year for a Master’s degree and 2 years for a PhD. With a minimum of 5 years of leadership required, even a PhD must also be working as a systems engineer in a leadership role on a project or through significant leadership in a technical society (not necessarily INCOSE). 

    The ideal ESEP candidate has leadership experience from a mix of all categories and is recognized beyond his or her own organization for contributing to the field. 

    (1) Chief Engineer vs ESEP - YouTube

  • How do I stay certified?

    by Courtney Wright | Apr 23, 2021
    An INCOSE Systems Engineering Professional Certification is valid for a period of three years for CSEP and five years for ASEP. It is renewable for three or five year periods, respectively. Renewal is not required for ESEP, but ESEPs do need to maintain their INCOSE membership.

    INCOSE Systems Engineering Professionals (SEPs) should track their professional development activities throughout their certification period.  They should keep a log of these activities and additional supporting information in case they are audited. 

    The requirement for continuing professional development is intended to reinforce the need for lifelong learning in order to stay current with changing technology, equipment, procedures, processes, and established standards. Systems Engineering Professionals are encouraged to select meaningful courses/activities which will be of benefit in the pursuit of their chosen areas. The definition of Course/Activity is: "Any qualifying course or activity with a clear purpose and objective which will maintain, improve, or expand skills and knowledge relevant to the CSEP’s or ASEP's area of expertise." In addition to courses, technical society participation, publications, and some job activities can count for professional development. 

    More information is posted at How Do I Renew (
  • All SE, all the time

    by Courtney Wright | Apr 16, 2021

    Few of us are lucky enough to do all systems engineering, all the time. We frequently divide our time with clerical tasks (e.g., typing someone else’s requirements into DOORS), management tasks (writing personnel reports), and business development. There are aspects of these that may fit under SE, but they frequently are simply not relevant. We rely on your judgment to draw the line. As a guideline, we do not expect someone who manages a team of 25 people to be doing SE full-time. Similarly, it is rare (but not unheard-of) for someone to be doing full-time, professional-level SE at the beginning of their career with no degree and no prior work experience. In both these cases, we would expect you to pro-rate your experience. 

    Let’s say you had a period of 2 years where you spent half your time in a non-SE role and half of your time doing SE work on a special project. In this case, you would claim 12 months (24 months * 50% = 12 months) of time in SE. You’ll then break that down further to allocate your SE time across the work areas described in the application instructions. E.g., 8 months in Requirements Engineering and 4 months in Process Definition. You should describe your math in the Duties and Responsibilities section of your application alongside the description of the work you were doing. It commonly takes 7, 10, or more years of work to achieve 5 years of SE. You will need to have references to cover the entire minimum period of experience. 

    Does the reverse work, that you can count extra if you worked more than a 40-hour work-week? No, I’m sorry, it doesn’t. The most you can claim for any one month worked (regardless of the number of hours) is one month of SE.