Imagine contributing to the development of a safer and more secure environment for decision-making within defence and security. Or diving into complex systems that deliver reliable and critical information for earth observation and ocean monitoring.

Understanding how all the pieces fit together in the bigger picture is at the heart of Systems Engineering. It's the bird's-eye view controlling the chaos.

The systems engineers at Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace develop products and technologies that help protect people and infrastructure worldwide. They engage with new, groundbreaking technology and innovative projects, involving complex and integrated systems that span multiple technological and professional domains. Here, working in interdisciplinary teams is not just an opportunity – it's a necessity.

“Systems Engineering as a method is quite similar regardless of the industry you work in, but our products have extreme demands on quality and performance, and the systems are numerous and advanced. This complexity is what makes the job extra interesting and exciting.”

– Jon Anders, Systems Engineer, Integrated Defence Systems

Systems Engineering is defined as an approach for designing and managing complex systems, ensuring they function efficiently and fulfill all required specifications throughout their entire lifecycle.

This involves some key elements like:

• Integrated thinking: Systems engineering is about seeing the big picture. It focuses on how all parts of a system fit and work together.

• Lifecycle consideration: This involves thinking about everything from how the system will be designed, built, operated, maintained, and eventually decommissioned or replaced. The goal is to ensure that the system performs well throughout its entire lifespan.

• Interdisciplinary approach: Systems engineering requires knowledge from various disciplines. Engineers, project managers, user experience designers, and many others may be involved to ensure the system meets all necessary requirements and needs.

• Problem-solving: Identifying problems or needs, and then finding the solutions. This may involve developing new technologies, improving processes, or discovering clever ways to combine existing solutions.

• Risk management: An essential aspect of systems engineering involves pinpointing potential risks or challenges, and strategizing on their mitigation or avoidance.

 In Systems Engineering, emphasis is placed on understanding and addressing the customer's specifications for a product, in collaboration with experts to ensure informed decision-making. This discipline involves the development, testing, and verification of products, with the objective of minimizing technical risks while maximizing reliability, safety, and user-friendliness.

“Defence products stand out due to their long lifespans and the extreme environments they endure. Managing a product through its lifecycle can be challenging, requiring maintenance to be as minimal as possible while maintaining maximum availability. Finding the right balance between these factors is crucial.”

Oluf, Team Manager System Design & Analysis, Flight Systems

The need for Systems Engineering expertise is increasingly becoming more crucial, especially in today's world where technology and systems are growing more complex and interconnected.

In the development and manufacture of defence products and technologies, Systems Engineering holds a critical position. Within this sector, characterized by extreme complexity and stringent requirements for reliability and security, Systems Engineering guarantees that every component of a weapon system, communication system, or any other form of defence technology operates in seamless harmony.

Systems Engineering is a key factor in coordinating interdisciplinary teams, integrating diverse technologies, and ensuring that systems meet all operational and safety standards. By employing a thorough, methodical approach, Systems Engineering helps in identifying and managing risks, as well as anticipating and resolving potential issues.

Additionally, cost-effectiveness is a key factor. Systems Engineering contributes to streamlining development and production workflows, guaranteeing that projects are executed within allocated budgets and timelines, thus circumventing expensive setbacks or delays. By guaranteeing that all components of a system are conceived and tested for seamless integration from the beginning, it minimizes the necessity for costly adjustments or fixes post-implementation.

"I believe that the role of a systems engineer should be implemented more extensively across all companies because it would ensure fewer design changes late in the development process." Ingeborg, Systems Engineer, Missile Systems

A combination of skills and personal qualities

A skilled systems engineer requires a balanced mix of skills and personal qualities to perform effectively. 

"Given that many of the tasks needs teaching and to be learned, perhaps the most crucial quality is having an interest in understanding how things are interconnected," says Wenche, department manager for the Systems Engineering group in the Integrated Defence Systems division, and who has hired many of the systems engineers within our team.

"However, it's also highly advantageous to possess technical expertise, ideally with in-depth knowledge in at least one of the relevant fields. Equally vital is the ability to effectively convey technical details to those without the same level of expertise."

In this position, there are numerous points of convergence, and strong collaboration skills and social aptitude prove invaluable when engaging with individuals from varied fields of expertise.

And while an eye for details is necessary to prevent significant issues from minor errors, it is fundamental for the systems engineer to adopt a bird's-eye view, gain an overview, and see the big picture.

"Perhaps it's because many of us here share similar traits, and we all have an engineer's mindset, but this is the best work environment I've ever been a part of." - Jon Anders, Systems Engineer, Integrated Defence Systems

Various methods within Systems Engineering:

  • The V-model: A development methodology that emphasizes verification and validation throughout the development process, shaped like a "V." It is often used in projects with high risk and complexity, such as defence and aerospace projects, where it is critical to verify and validate the system at various levels.

  • Agile Systems Engineering: Combines agile development with Systems Engineering to promote customer collaboration, adapt to changes, and deliver functional components regularly. Ideal for projects with evolving requirements or the need for rapid deliveries.

  • Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE): Utilizes models for information exchange to enhance system understanding and promote collaboration. Suitable for complex projects requiring efficient management of extensive information.

  • System Dynamics: Analyzes the behavior of complex systems over time using action-reaction loops and flow diagrams, suitable for simulating the effects of changes in policy or strategy and understanding complex systems.

  • Lean Systems Engineering: Implements lean production principles to enhance efficiency and value in development processes by reducing waste. Effective for projects targeting resource optimization and cost reductions.

The system engineers at Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace collaborate across different divisions, departments, programs, products, and projects. This implies that several of the methods mentioned above may be used based on the specific tasks they need to address.

However, there is one unified process that serves as the foundation for all individuals engaged in Systems Engineering within our company, irrespective of the division or product they are assigned to.

The "Design and Development" process adheres to the V-model, featuring system development phases on the left, implementation in the middle, and verification and testing on the right.

However, the process will unfold differently due to its application across different products or systems. Moreover, elements from other methodologies will also be incorporated into specific projects, such as "Model-Based Systems Engineering," which prioritizes models before documents for facilitating information exchange among disciplines. The objective is to enhance system comprehension throughout its lifecycle and foster collaboration through a unified model.

"This is a modern approach to conduct systems engineering, where we leverage new and advanced methods and data tools to master and handle complexity," explains Oluf, Team Manager for System Design & Analysis in the Flight Systems department of the Missile Systems division, where this method is extensively utilized.

Due to the systems engineer's involvement across the entire process, there's a wide range of tasks and responsibilities. Some handle customer requirements, specifications, cost estimation, and proposals, while others concentrate on system architecture, design, integration, testing, verification, and validation. The scope is extensive, with individual interests and expertise often guiding one's area of focus.

Are you able to see the big picture and understand how different systems are interconnected and influence each other?

Are you a systems engineer with a passion for technological innovation and a desire to make a real difference? Now is your chance. Apply for one of our available positions here