Professor Joseph M. Sussman’s hour long lecture aims to give an overview of the topic. At the outset, he explains how Critical Contemporary Issues (CCIs) are intricately tied to Complex Sociotechnical Systems. For understanding and designing solutions for urgent and important issues facing society, technical factors have to be taken into account. Indeed, technology and technical excellence will play a major role in addressing such contemporary issues as climate change, economic growth, mobility, large-scale manufacturing, health, and developing country megacities, etc. Moreover, an integrated knowledge across multiple domains and disciplines is required to building Complex Sociotechnical Systems.
Professor Sussman begins by defining what a sociotechnical system is. The complexities associated with these systems can be structural, behavioral, evaluative or nested complexity. The emphasis is laid on Intellectual Content Integration, whereby, “design solutions must focus not only on the advanced technologies that characterize contemporary life, but also on their relationship to the organizations and institutions through which they function”.
The Principles and Concepts relating to designing Complex Sociotechnical Systems are laid out. They are a work in progress, though, as the field of study is in a process of rapid development. The ideas of Jay W. Forrester, Dean Gordon Brown, Peter Drucker, etc are integrated into the theories. The transportation/traffic management systems designed for Mexico City (a megacity with more than 20 million population) is an interesting case in point. And finally, the Future of Engineering Systems/ Complex Sociotechnical systems is full of possibilities and novel inter-disciplinary integrations.