Principles and Models for System Architecture

Systems Engineering

The complexity of products is increasing as we demand additional functionality and higher performance from them. In many cases, we must move to new architectures in order to accommodate this complexity. Furthermore, novel products and systems development require the involvement of and communication between professionals with multiple disciplinary backgrounds as well as with external stakeholders. This promise of this collaboration is to detecting failure modes and constraints early on during its lifecycle, but in practice the early phase of product development is often unstructured. In this course, we will show that complex engineering systems have a set of common principles that cuts across the traditional fields of engineering. 

The discipline of System Architecture (SA) has been growing in response to this increase in system and product complexity. System architecture is an early lifecycle activity that determines the systems concept and key technical tradeoffs. Nurturing systems thinking and engineering skills, the course begins with System Architecture as a series of decisions that frame the form to function mapping. Learners are exposed to a number of architecture representations, including the Object-Process Methodology (OPM) and the Design Structure Matrix (DSM). Learners gain hands-on modeling experience on a system of their choice by building a series of model deliverables through the course. Learners are exposed to a selection of advanced architecting topics, notably creating tradespaces of designs and the management role of the architect.

Starting on Wednesday, participants of the Principles and Models for System Architecture - MITxPRO Joint Program will take part in this course.

This course was previously titled Systems Engineering and Architecture: Principles, Models, Tools, and Applications.

Lead Instructor(s): 

Edward F. Crawley


Jul 15, 2019

Course Length: 

5 Days

Course Fee: 





  • Closed

It is highly recommended that you apply for a course at least 6-8 weeks before the start date to guarantee there will be space available. After that date you may be placed on a waitlist. Courses with low enrollment may be cancelled up to 4 weeks before start date if sufficient enrollments are not met. If you are able to access the online application form, then registration for that particular course is still open.

Registration for this program is closed.

Participant Takeaways: 

  • Rigorous thinking that fosters a holistic approach and creative solutions
  • Combination of systems architecting principles with modeling language
  • Hands-on collaborative experience via a small-scale team projects
  • Synthesize and analyze existing architecting approaches to reduce ambiguity and complexity
  • Define system architecture, modeling, form, function, structure, and behavior
  • Describe how a system's function emerges from its form and behavior
  • Distinguish between the notions of system, product, service, and project, and how each creates value and competitive advantage for the enterprise
  • Learn the OPCAT tool for modeling OPM, and leave with a project model

Who Should Attend: 

This program is intended for engineers and architects across industry sectors, software engineers, system integrators, system modelers, analysts and designers, academics, and executives.

Computer Requirements and Preparatory Materials:

Laptops are required for this course; tablets will not be sufficient for the activities performed.

In preparation, participants are advised to:

  • Bring 2-3 architectural diagrams from work, with proprietary information removed (or a created diagram “in the style” of architecture diagrams at work)
  • Download and install OPCAT v 4.2 from and read background material available on that website

Program Outline: 

Day 1

Day 2

  • Concept
  • Participant project review
  • Architectural decisions
  • Exercise on architectural decisions
  • What is a system? A Model?
  • Introduction to OPM
  • Strategy & marketing impact on architecture
  • Strategy & marketing influence exercise
  • Evening reading assignment: Chapters 4,5,6 of Crawley, E., Cameron, B., Selva, D. System Architecture: Strategy and Product Development for Complex Systems. Prentice Hal, 2015 (included in tuition)

Day 3 (Starting this day participants from the Principles and Models for System Architecture - MITxPRO Joint Program will join the course)

  • Representing architecture in a tradespace
  • Exercise: Tradespaces
  • Modularity and architecture
  • Structural and procedural links
  • DSM as a representation, including interfaces
  • Coached session on project diagrams

Day 4

  • Intermediate project presentations
  • Complexity management in OPM
  • Rold and deliverables of the architect
  • Modeling cyber-physical systems and risk with OPM
  • Case study
  • DoDAF, SysML, and OPM

Day 5

  • Final project presentations

Course Schedule: 

Class runs 8:30 am - 5:00 pm every day except Friday when it ends at 4:00 pm.

Special events include a dinner for course participants and faculty on Tuesday night. Evening activities are included in tuition.

Participants’ Comments: 


"A very good experience. The class broadened my understanding of what is involved in architecting a good system and gave me the opportunity to meet other engineers trying to solve problems similar to my own."


"The course has a considerable phase of exercises, giving you the possibility to put into practice immediately and with sequence of steps what you learn day-by-day."


"The course materials were both comprehensive and current with contextualization of the material in terms of the latest international research and development being conducted into modeling methodologies."



This course takes place on the MIT campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We can also offer this course for groups of employees at your location. Please complete the Custom Programs request form for further details.


Fundamentals: Core concepts, understandings, and tools (10%) 10
Latest Developments: Recent advances and future trends (35%) 35
Industry Applications: Linking theory and real-world (35%) 35
Out-of-the-box thinking and problem solving skills (20%) 20

Delivery Methods: 

Lecture: Delivery of material in a lecture format (40%) 40
Discussion or Groupwork: Participatory learning (20%) 20
Labs: Demonstrations, experiments, simulations (20%) 20
Small group mini-project in participant's area of expertise (20%) 20


Introductory: Appropriate for a general audience (40%) 40
Specialized: Assumes experience in practice area or field (40%) 40
Advanced: In-depth explorations at the graduate level (20%) 20