Measuring and modeling the integrated behavior of biomolecular-cellular networks is central to systems biology. Over several decades, systems biology has been shaped by quantitative biologists, physicists, mathematicians, and engineers in different ways. However, the basic and applied versions of systems biology are not typically distinguished, which blurs the separate aspirations of the field and its potential for real-world impact. Here, we articulate an engineering approach to systems biology, which applies educational philosophy, engineering design, and predictive models to solve contemporary problems in an age of biomedical Big Data. A concerted effort to train systems bioengineers will provide a versatile workforce capable of tackling the diverse challenges faced by the biotechnological and pharmaceutical sectors in a modern, information-dense economy.