In an effort to join the quickly expanding trend of Massive Online Open Courses (or MOOC’s), NASA has teamed up with the Saylor Foundation to provide a 6-week-long, completely free online course to the public entitled “Space Systems Engineering”.
The course will use real NASA missions as case studies to cover the fundamentals of systems engineering, all while highlighting the integral part the practice plays in the pursuit of successful space flight. Furthermore, coursework will be lead directly by some of NASA space systems engineering’s most accomplished members: project manager Jeff Volosin, mission systems engineer Mike Menzel, and Dr. John C. Mather, who earned the Nobel Laureate in physics for his work on the COBE mission.
The course is designed for those with all levels of engineering experience, but is also suitably accessible for those who have absolutely no background in engineering. The content is adapted from an existing course taught at the University of Texas, but with streamlined and simplified material that presents a simpler access point to the complicated field. Much of the curriculum is presented through Youtube playlists, with ongoing opportunities to participate in Google+ hangouts with faculty members.
However, engineers shouldn’t feel as if the course won’t have a great deal of useful information to offer them. In a recent release, Jeff Volosin was quoted as saying, “Whether you are going to be a systems engineer or work with them, you have some background, because every engineer has to work in an area where systems engineering is a part of their life.” Using NASA space missions as a backdrop, the course is poised to provide incredibly useful information that can be applied to systems engineering across any field.
Students interested in the course can enroll at zero cost until March 3rd, 2014, the day when the first unit of coursework is set to begin. The first unit will break down systems engineering at a basic level, and what impact it has on the aerospace industry. Subsequent units will cover topics in project management, defining a project’s scope, mapping out system requirements, and trade studies. Students will be able to access the materials whenever they like, including after the course ends, making it a great opportunity for aspiring engineers to pick up a solid base of knowledge.