The best way to understand Systems Modeling is to consider examples drawn from the research that is performed by the faculty proposing the program.
- Laura McLay studies the screening systems that we all must pass through to get on plane.
- Edward Boone studies streams and rivers and the populations of fish and other life that lives in them.
- Jason Merrick studies the risk of accidents in a port and how it is influenced by the traffic patterns, weather, currents, and human errors.
- Hassan Sedeghat, Wes Cain, and David Chan study patterns of cardiac arrhythmia and some of its possible causes.
Each of these researchers looks at the heart, the port, the airport, or the river as a system of components that interact together and lead to behaviors beyond what their individual pieces can do. A ship in dry dock will not have an accident as it cannot run in to other ships or run aground; accident risk is a product of all the other parts of the port the ship navigates through. We cannot study the population of one type of fish in a stream alone without considering the populations of its predators and it food sources, along with the actions that man takes that affect it. The complexity of the mechanics of the heart is increased with changes caused by heart disease. Often arrhythmias arise from changes in geometry as well as the fundamental electro-chemical properties of the cells. To best understand this process we combine these changes with the body's sinus and circadian rhythms, which gives a better view of the overall dynamics. We cannot defend against terrorist attacks by defending one airport as the terrorists will just use another. In other words, we must consider the behavior of the systems, not just individual pieces.
Analytics Magazine published by INFORMS is a good source of additional examples.