Celebrating International Systems Engineer Day

November 29, 2019 – Today is International Systems Engineer Day and we are celebrating it at Babcock Canada by highlighting one of our talented Systems Engineers.

We sat down with Alex Sadowski, Junior Systems Engineer, who is part of the team working on the Victoria Class In-Service Support Contract, to talk about his journey in systems engineering.

Q: What is systems engineering?

AS: Systems engineering is an interdisciplinary field of engineering that incorporates the design, development, analysis, implementation, maintenance, and disposal of systems. A systems engineer is involved in many aspects of this process, including:

  • Capturing and analyzing system/stakeholder requirements;
  • Verifying/validating requirement compliance following the system build; and
  • Communicating within and outside their company/organization to maintain stakeholder expectations.

Q: If you could simplify your job as a systems engineer for someone knows nothing about engineering, how would you explain it?

AS: Systems engineering can be simply described as a “cradle to grave” view of a system’s lifecycle. Throughout this lifecycle, it is important to ensure both system and stakeholder requirements are met. The questions “did you build the system right” (system requirements) and “did you build the right system” (stakeholder requirements) are excellent cues.

Q: Why systems engineering?

AS: I studied electrical engineering during my post-secondary education at Camosun College and the University of Victoria, which started my journey in systems engineering. In this field, I have the opportunity to see the entire lifecycle of projects like the Victoria Class In-Service Support Contract (VISSC). Managing different aspects of a project like the system/stakeholders requirements, and technical scope is a complex task that I really enjoy.

Q: How did you come to work for Babcock? 

AS: Growing up on the West Coast, I was drawn to the marine industry and the prospect of working on complex and interesting projects. In 2015, I started working with Babcock through the co-op program at the University of Victoria. I then worked part-time and full-time for Babcock until the completion of my degree. Following graduation, I transitioned into a full-time role as a Junior Systems Engineer with the Combat Systems Integration Group (CSIG).

What is your favourite part about your job?

AS: I am able to work on a variety of tasks, shaking up my week to week routine. Having this change makes it easy to stay motivated and enthusiastic about my work. I also appreciate the excellent group of individuals that I am able to collaborate with every day to ensure the delivery of VISSC.

Alex Sadowski and his team in Victoria, BC

Q: Do you have a mentor within your field or someone that you look up to? Why?

AS: I have had the privilege of working under current Babcock Systems Engineers, Coleton Denninger, Braydon de Wit and Eric Young. They have been excellent mentors and have enabled me to take on more responsibility and grow into my current role. It is invaluable having people that you look up to within your organization that challenge you on a daily basis.

Q: What advice would you give to the next generation of systems engineers? 

AS: For those looking at exploring systems engineering, I would pass on that a detailed understanding of scope/requirements coupled with effective communication between you and your stakeholders as integral parts of any project’s success.

Q: Is there a landmark project in systems engineering that inspires you?

AS: Systems engineering can be traced back to the 1940s with Bell Telephone Laboratories. As such, there have been many projects over the years that have employed systems engineering principles. Although I do not look back on one specific project for inspiration, there is a wealth of knowledge in organizations such as the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE).