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TMC Masterclass: Educating the system architects of the future

“System architects, or system engineers, are scarce in today’s labour market in the Netherlands. It’s a discipline that has emerged in companies over the last five years, ” says Richard van Lieshout, system architect and co-creator of the TMC Masterclass. “System architecture is becoming more and more important, because a system architect has a connecting role within a company. He or she helps companies to give clear direction to technical programs and so elevate the product to new levels, while at the same time making the product more saleable.”

New educational path

“Generally speaking, as an engineer you have four options career-wise: you can become project manager, a line manager, a specialist in your field or you can become a system architect. Until recently, you could only become a system architect through learning by experience. There wasn’t an educational path you could follow. We wanted to expand the knowledge base of the TMC Employeneurship model with a new educational path to becoming a system architect for our Employeneurs. That became the TMC Masterclass High-Tech Systems Creation. Multiple cells within TMC work together to make the Masterclass happen. It’s a true multidisciplinary curriculum.”

Holy triangle

“A system architect works closely with a project manager and a business developer. We like to call it the holy triangle. As a company you need to bring those three roles together to make sure your company can successfully deliver a new product to market. Working together with these other disciplines is something we teach in the Masterclass. We coach participants on their specific work as a system architect, but also how to work in relation to the organisation they are part of.”

Unique concept

“The concept of the Masterclass is unique. Nobody does a training program like this. The technical level is equivalent to a university program, but it goes much wider than that. We look at our profession in relation to marketing and project management. The teachers are all senior Employeneurs, combined with external experts. All of them are active members in the industry and use real-world case studies in their teachings.”

Lots of experience in a short time

“The fact that we use a lot of real case studies is inherent to the profession of System Architecture. Every product or project can be done in different ways. When you get to see all these different projects done by different architects, you get a clear and objective impression of all the possibilities and methods you can use. The industry cases show the different paths you can take as an architect. Every architect has a different approach. And every company has its own convictions and ideas. The personal touch and communication and persuasion skills of the architect are vital for the success of a case, but in the Masterclass we teach a basic set of skills to set up new architectures and making business case decisions that will support with that. When a new system architect who has done the Masterclass comes across a new challenge, he or she has got all those cases as resources to draw from. So the TMC Masterclass is a great way to gain a lot of experience in a very short time.”

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