Complex Systems Competency Online


Instructed by Dr. Dianne DeTurris and Dr. Shannon Flummerfelt

  • New fundamental course covers all of the most important and relevant topics in Complex Systems Engineering
  • All students will receive an AIAA Certificate of Completion at the end of the course

This fundamental eight-hour course applies complex systems competency as a solution for comprehensively addressing large system development in aerospace. Applying complex systems competency to gaps in organizational, technical design, and deployment provides necessary insights and essential enrichments to optimization. Participants learn how to deal with scaling, interdependencies, and interconnectedness in large systems to actualize leverage points for managing complexity.


  • Apply foundations of complex systems competency principles and practices
  • Compare systems thinking and systems engineering, innovation, and leadership historically and currently for relevance in the current marketplace
  • Use various continuous improvement methods for complex engineering problem solving and decision making for informing engineering practice
  • Understand how to respond to various feedback mechanisms, such as Sprint cycles and continuous improvement cycles, as they may delay and/or cause system oscillations
  • Synthesize methods used in other industries that are compatible with hardware-focused engineered systems
  • Identify a variety of qualitative and quantitative tools for mastering systems competency
  • Learn how to implement visual management methods including Industry 4.0

Intended participants are engineers and aerospace professionals in technical fields who work on large system development. The course is not geared toward a specific technical field, but rather to engineers and leaders who could benefit from a bigger picture perspective on system interactions. The course benefits anyone interested in understanding and managing complexity within aerospace.

Course Information:

Type of Course: Instructor-Led Short Course
Course Length: 1 day
AIAA CEU's available: Yes

This course is also available on-demand.


  • How Complexity Affects Aerospace
    • Griffin’s Elegant Design
    • Definition of Complexity, Self-Organization, and Emergent Behavior
    • Linear vs. Non-linear Thinking
  • Thinking in Systems
    • Meadows Systems Approach to Problem Solving
    • Systems Thinking for Organizations That Learn
    • Double Loop Learning Potential and System Traps
    • Complex Adaptive Systems
    • Sensemaking and Collaborative Systems Thinking
  • Guiding Principles for Complexity
    • INCOSE Primer for Complexity
    • Systems-Based Models
    • Emerging Field Theories of Systems Competency
  • Development of Engineering Complex Systems Competency
    • Complexity Measurement and Visualization
    • Industry 4.0
    • Predictive Modeling
  • Complexity Attribute Testing and Visualization
    • Design Structure Matrix
    • Attribute Mapping
    • CX Tool
  • Summary and Further Learning Opportunities


Dr. Dianne DeTurris is a Professor of Aerospace Engineering at Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo, CA. She has taught propulsion courses for 20 years, with a research specialization in hypersonic airbreathing propulsion, and teaches complexity in engineered systems. She is an academic scholar for the AIAA Complex Aerospace Systems Exchange and has written extensively on complexity in aerospace. She also researches global competency for engineers.

Dr. Shannon Flumerfelt is an Endowed Professor at Oakland University in Organizational Leadership. She specializes in organizational and employee development, including systems competency and Lean. She is editor of AIAA Progress in Astronautics and Aeronautics volume 256, Complex Systems Engineering: Theory and Practice.


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