Faculty Friday: Kamran Eftekhari Shahroudi

Indoor portrait of Kamran Eftekhari Shahroudi, professor of systems engineering.
Kamran Eftekhari-Shahroudi, professor of systems engineering at Colorado State University.

Dr. Kamran Eftekhari Shahroudi is a professor in the systems engineering department. He has been involved with systems engineering since 2008. 

His current research interest involves model-based systems thinking as a framework and tool to approach complex problems. 

Where do you call home? 

Wow this is a tough question! I have lived in Iran, UK, Netherlands and the US. I sometimes joke that no country can handle me for very long! I love Persian Food, British Discipline, Dutch Openness and many things American like the US Constitution.

I think home is where I am.

Have you developed any “quarantine hobbies”?

We have all experienced terrible times recently. Yet, coffee breaks with Ima (my wife) and Napoli (our dog) is my new found favorite fun activity.

During normal non-quarantine times, we would never be able to spend any time together because of busy conflicting schedules away from home.

What is a typical workday like for you?

A typical day consists of a lot hours meeting or catching up with colleagues and students. I take short breaks for coffee or walks around the house to help with switching topics.

Later in the day, there is major thinking effort spent on this very critical question: What’s for dinner?

How long have you been at CSU?

Before 2008, I would take CSU classes like Robust Controls for fun and personal growth. Then I started collaborating with smart CSU faculty to solve tough industrial controls problems at Woodward.

In 2008, I joined ECE as adjunct faculty and served on the committee charged with creating the new CSU Systems Engineering program. As the program grew, so grew my role to teach classes and advise Ph.D. students.

In 2020, I became a Professor of Systems Engineering.

What is your area of research and what drew you to this research?

My latest passion is (Model-Based) Systems Thinking as a philosophy, language, framework and tool to approach complex “real-world” problems. Luckily, several very accomplished students hired me as their Ph.D. advisor, so I am getting a lot of prime exposure and exercise in tackling a variety of complex engineering and socio-technical problems.

I saw many examples of the same recurring problems in our industry and in our society time and time again. I also was unable to swallow the typical reaction to recurring problems: throw more money and resources into the same exact solutions or process.

How do you define systems engineering?

There are many definitions: Major reputable sources like INCOSE shift their definition over time as they improve their understanding. I also do not believe a “hard definition” is the best way of dealing with semi-technical, soft or ill-conditioned problems.

To me the most exciting aspect of SE is this: SE systematically encourages us to think in systems and apply systems principles as we attack complex problems.

SE as a discipline is actually much much more than my limited definition here. However, in my humble opinion, the parts that fall outside this definition can be very boring!

What do you like to do when you aren’t working?

This situation does not exist because doing nothing is still doing! The key to liking is what you measure…

Who inspires you?

I believe nature is still the biggest inspiration and I don’t mean this in a small way.

Anything else you want to share?

Reading, listening, observing and reflecting are good ways of learning. A great way to learn is by doing. The best way to learn is by teaching.