U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) and Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT), the chapter presents data on the number of systems engineering graduates and their follow-on assignments. The chapter also addresses the numbers of officers trained in systems engineering that the Air Force expects to have in the future. This is particularly important given the manpower drawdown that the Air Force is going through as a result of Program Budget Decision (PBD) 720.1

As best the committee can determine, the Air Force does not have systems engineers assigned between Milestones A and B; hence, the committee concludes that none are assigned in the pre-Milestone A period. Furthermore, as discussed later in this chapter, the personnel/manpower “accounting” system that the Air Force uses does not enable the easy tracking of personnel who are performing SE functions or jobs that require them. Hence it is nearly impossible to assess supply and demand for systems engineers.


Figure 3-1 shows that the output of systems engineering degrees in U.S. universities has increased slowly over the past decade.

This conclusion is supported by data cited in a forthcoming report by the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE),2 which is developing a reference curriculum for systems engineering. Engineering schools such as the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Stevens Institute of Technology are introducing new professional and executive master’s degree programs in systems engineering and systems management based on this INCOSE reference model. The curriculum places a strong emphasis on domain expertise (e.g., electrical engineering, mechanical engineering) at the undergraduate level.

Figure 3-1 includes data for systems-engineering-centric programs only. It does not include domain-centric systems engineering programs. For example, universities such as Stanford University, Georgia Tech, and the California Institute of Technology have exceptional programs in aerospace engineering, electrical engineering, and industrial engineering that include aspects of systems engineering.3


Program Budget Decision 720, entitled “Air Force Transformation Flight Plan,” was issued on December 28, 2005, by the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller). In it, the Defense Comptroller directed reductions in Air Force manpower from 2007 to 2011 totaling over 40,000 people, including active, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve civilian, officer, and enlisted personnel. Manpower reductions in specific career fields were not specified in the PBD, but it is expected that the scientist, engineer, and acquisition manager career fields will experience significant reductions as the PBD 720 reductions are allocated.


R. Jain and D. Verma, 2007, Proposing a Framework for a Reference Curriculum for a Graduate Program in Systems Engineering, Hoboken, N.J.: International Council on Systems Engineering.


W. Fabrycky and E. McCrae, 2005, Systems Engineering Degree Programs in the United States, Hoboken, N.J.: International Council on Systems Engineering.

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