Soft systems thinking in engineering practice

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dc.contributor.author Andrew, Theo
dc.date.accessioned 2008-11-10T10:24:42Z
dc.date.available 2008-11-10T10:24:42Z
dc.date.issued 2008-11-10T10:24:42Z
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10210/1579
dc.description Inaugural lecture--Faculty of Engineering, Technikon Witwatersrand, 27 November 2003 en
dc.description.abstract The discipline of engineering has evolved and expanded over the years from the planning and rollout of infrastructure for the purposes of"improving" the physical environment, to the rollout of infrastructures that provide electrical power, railways, and telecommunications, to the myriad of technological innovations and services that we see today. The expanding nature of the engineering discipline is inextricably linked to the increasing number of scientific discoveries and the demand by society for more technology. The modernization and economic development of a state or country is usually linked to the amount and level of engineering that takes place in that state or country. By nature of its discipline engineers deal with the real world and have a predisposition to a technological worldview on real world problems. When dealing with complex problems however, especially in developing countries, a technological world view provides a limited appreciation of the situation that is being considered for engineering. It is the contention of this paper that when dealing with situations in developing countries, the traditional engineering approaches must be enhanced with other softer methods and techniques in order to obtain a richer appreciation of the situation to be engineered, if the most appropriate design is to be engineered. The paper takes the position that approaches in soft systems thinking used synergistically with the traditional engineering approach leads to more appropriate engineering, providing a more certain trigger for development. The paper outlines the scope of engineering practice which the author argues inherently calls for problem solving approaches that is beyond the technological paradigm. The development of soft systems thinking is summarized, leading to a philosophical justification for the need to use softer approaches in complex engineering problems. Two case studies are briefly discussed demonstrating how the use of soft systems thinking methodologies and techniques led to a deeper understanding of the engineering problem and a more appropriate design approach. en
dc.language.iso en en
dc.rights University of Johannesburg en
dc.subject Engineering and technological innovation en
dc.subject Engineering design en
dc.subject Engineering infrastructures en
dc.subject Soft systems thinking en
dc.title Soft systems thinking in engineering practice en
dc.type Inaugural en

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