To successfully develop a system, a solid understanding of its architecture by stakeholders involved in the development of the system is key. This process is supported by System Architects, who have a profession that is often regarded as experience based. However, we argue that it is important to familiarize students with the concept of System Architecting, so that they are at least receptive of the nuances involved and potentially can continue a pathway of development towards such a role. In this paper we explore the potential use of A3 Architecture Overviews (A3AO) as an educational tool to support familiarization with Systems Engineering and Systems Architecting. The A3AO has been developed as a supportive tool to communicate a system’s architecture. It uses diagrams to model and visualize a system with different views and is intended to be printed on a physical A3 paper. It serves as a reference for, and facilitator of design discussions. Skills envisioned to be developed while using an A3AO include strict selection and visualization of information, two critical competencies to handle systems’ complexity. The A3AOs have been applied in a course on Systems Engineering at an applied University in The Netherlands and were part of the assessed deliverables. The relative free-form nature of the A3AO posed students with various dilemmas in their use, but also provided the opportunity for guided development on the envisioned competencies. We conclude that more research is required to further formalize this guided development, but we also experience that the A3AO has the potential to support systems engineering and systems architecting practices in education.
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|Key words||system architecting|