Engineered System (glossary)

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An open, concrete system of technical or sociotechnical elements that exhibit emergent properties not exhibited by the individual elements. Its characteristics include being created by and for people; having a purpose, with multiple views; satisfying key stakeholdersā€™ value propositions; having a life cycle and evolution dynamics; having a boundary and an external environment; and being a part of a system-of-interest hierarchy. (Created for SEBoK)


This definition was created for SEBoK v. 1.0.


This definition was adapted from the INCOSE Systems Engineering Handbook and systems science literature on open, concrete systems. See the Types of Systems topic.

It is related to the definition proposed by Bartolomei et al (2006):
An engineering system is a complex socio-technical system that is designed, developed, and actively managed by humans in order to deliver value to stakeholders.

Work Cited

Bartolomei, J.E., Hastings, D.E., de Neufville, R., and Rhodes, D.H. 2006. "Screening for Real Options "In" an Engineering System: A Step Towards Flexible Weapon System Development. " 4th Conference on Systems Engineering Research.v Los Angeles, CA, USA. April 2006. Available at

INCOSE. 2012. Systems Engineering Handbook: A Guide for System Life Cycle Processes and Activities, version 3.2.2. San Diego, CA, USA: International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE), INCOSE-TP-2003-002-03.2.2.

SEBoK v. 1.1.2 released 1 August 2013

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