The Life of a Systems Engineer

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The Life of a Systems Engineer

A Systems Engineer’s job is to create and manage complex systems. They ensure that the system has a good life cycle and that all systems are running efficiently. This role includes software installation and support, debugging multiple systems, and supporting users within an enterprise. This specialist also performs high-level root cause analysis for recovery from service interruptions and implements preventative measures. The most successful Systems Engineers are natural collaborators and will often always interact with project managers and the engineering team, taking the lead in facilitating the achievement of a successful system.

So, What Does a Systems Engineer Actually Do?

The daily tasks of a Systems Engineer will vary somewhat by industry and company, as well as the level of the position, but you can expect some common responsibilities to include:

Design and implement systems and tools

Perform network and interface monitoring, management, and troubleshooting

Tasks automatization for production environments

Develop system security standards

Install, maintain, and upgrade hardware, software, and related equipment

Provide upgrades, bug fixes, backups, patching and maintenance to maintain system integrity

Perform restart and recovery procedures

Evaluate resources to meet organizational needs

Serve as escalation point for Tier I and II requests involving system infrastructure and services

Use scripting techniques and tools to implement and manage system automation functionality

Support new and existing system interfaces

Verify stability, interoperability, and security of system architecture

Planning and responding to service outages

Develop, maintain, and update shell scripts

Successfully execute technology refresh projects

Skills and Competencies

On the technical side, a Systems Engineer must be able to perform systems analysis, troubleshooting, and design. Some employers look for candidates with a strong background in computer engineering and general software development, since most Systems Engineers work with computer systems. Risk management, information security, cloud computing, documentation, quality control, scripting, and data architecture are additional skills to consider.

On the nontechnical front, Systems Engineers spend much of their time working with others to determine requirements and solve problems, so solid soft skills are an absolute must. Communication, analytical skills, organizational skills, detail-oriented thinking, ability to see the big picture, customer service, time management and teamwork are essential.

Project management skills can also be valuable in an engineering job, given the central role the systems engineer plays on large projects that involve many different aspects of the business.

As for education requirements, a bachelor’s degree in systems engineering or a related field is generally preferred. Experience in a specific industry is also beneficial.

Systems Engineer Day

On the last Friday in November, International Systems Engineer Day highlights the importance of Systems Engineers. This celebration was created just recently by as a way of saying thank you to the men and women who sit in front of computers for hours every day to make our lives better and easier.

What’s It Like to Be a Systems Engineer?

An Interview with Matt Farney, Systems Engineer IV at Segue Technologies Inc.

What previous computer science-related (or STEM) experience(s) did you have, if any, and what prompted your journey to become a software engineer?

I started with degrees in Math and Music.  I decided that I was unwilling to continue onto Grad school in Math. Based on my computer affinity, I decided to return to school for a degree in computer science. About three-quarters into my second foray into college, I started as an intern on the project that I continue to work on to this day. I was able to work part-time while attending classes – providing me with a double-barrel learning environment. My second college experience was almost entirely degree focused, so it was shorter and more productive than my first more traditional experience.

For whom do you think this career is a good fit? Why?

To be an effective Systems Engineer, you need a few specific character traits:

  1. Curiosity/Inquisitiveness: You need to be able to look at problem and solutions from multiple directions.
  2. Self-reliant: This has become more important as the growth of the internet has made it easier to research issues. A targeted Google search can save hours of tinkering.
  3. Effective communicator: While listening to needs and requirements is important and describing work tasks is necessary, asking questions effectively can make or break a design/project.
  4. Typing skills: ’nuff said.
  5. Problem solver: Most software engineering tasks are variants on basic programming problems. Figuring out which pattern or paradigm to use, adapting what someone else had previously coded, or correcting a deficiency in existing code – all of these are problems looking for an answer.

What’s a typical day like for you?

  1. Start of my day is reading through emails and triaging the important ones.
  2. The critical ones are handled and then if time permits, the less important ones.
  3. The bulk of my day is working on my current main task (could be engineering, design, coding, analysis, or writing).
  4. Mixed in throughout the day are answering questions and providing direction to the members of my team.

What are the main 5 duties/responsibilities of a Software Engineer/Developer?

  1. Code professionally
  2. Be accurate
  3. Be thoughtful
  4. Test, test, test
  5. Ask for help when needed

What’s your favorite part of being a Systems Engineer?

I enjoy diagnosing and solving problems. On a large multi-platform project, I have lots of opportunity.

What is the most challenging part of working as a Systems Engineer?

It depends on the person. For me, my most challenging part is dealing with requirements that are vague and need work to be actionable. For others, it might be paperwork or reviews or any number of things.

In your opinion what is the future of Systems Engineering?

I think the push will be toward smaller components/systems.  This lowers costs and development time. Large systems will become more and more expensive but will still remain in many industries due to existing infrastructure. Eventually, I think there will be a push toward more abstracted coding using AI technologies to automate much of the work.

What advice do you have for individuals considering becoming a Software Engineer/Developer?

Take computer science classes.  Code more than the required materiel for the class. If you find yourself enjoying that type of work, then this path may be for you.

What do you like about working at Segue as a Systems Engineer?

I like having worked on the same project for more than 20 years with most of the same people. I have been impressed by Segue when they captured the current iteration of the contract. They have treated me well. They have allowed the SCS team to continue to function as we did before. All in all – a great experience.

If you are interested in joining our team or exploring our career opportunities visit Segue’s career page or share your resume with our Recruitment team at To find more information about our team members go to Segue’s Blog: Employee Spotlight.