The Journal of Mechanical Design has a long history of publishing research work on system design. For example, “mechanical systems” was the term used primarily for JMD research papers on multi-body dynamics that has now mostly migrated to the ASME transactions journals on computational and nonlinear dynamics or dynamic systems, measurement and control. The term “system design” invokes now more the idea of a device that is made up of subsystems and components that must work together, or devices that must be analyzed from the viewpoint of several disciplines. The term “engineered” systems is often used to distinguish human artifacts from natural systems, like, say, ant colonies that are studied in “complex systems” research. And then there are “complex engineered systems,” a topic that is receiving significant attention beyond the confines of typical engineering research, like many types of transportation vehicles and their associated infrastructures.

JMD has issued the Call for Papers below for a special issue scheduled for 2011. To set the stage I have asked Christina L. Bloebaum of the University of Buffalo and Director of the National Science Foundation's Program on Engineering Design and Innovation, and Anna-Maria R. McGowan, Agency-Level Technology Integration Manager at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Langley Research Center, to share with us some thoughts on the challenges we face in addressing these complex engineered systems design problems. I am delighted to welcome their guest editorial in the present issue.