Transforming our systems engineering approach using digital technology


Point of View: Transforming Our Approach to Systems Engineering Using Digital Technology


By Holly Dunlap and Dave Chesebrough

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Digital transformation is omnipresent in our daily life. Seemingly unlimited and super-fast access to people, information and services makes the world think differently, doing more and moving faster than ever.

But how do we use the power of digital technology in our work to advance our national defense posture and accelerate the development and delivery of superior capabilities to the US military and its allies?

For decades, the US military has enjoyed technological superiority over its potential adversaries. Today, the global dynamics of modern technology and its applications in the development of military systems strive to reduce this advantage. Maintaining this technological superiority while continuing to provide our forces with more advanced capabilities than those of our adversaries – which are not hampered by the rules of our acquisition system – requires us to speed up all acquisition processes.

One of these key principles is systems engineering, an interdisciplinary process that, at its end, provides a fully functional system that meets customer requirements. In addition, the focus is now on increasing flexibility, innovation and rapid capacity development. The challenge is to do them while remaining true to the fundamental principles of acquiring quality, speed and responsibility.

A very concrete and clear answer is the revised 5000 Series Adaptive Acquisition Channel policies, which provide a new set of key principles for the defense acquisition system, intended to increase flexibility and enable l ‘innovation. But that alone is not enough.

Modern technology is changing the landscape of systems engineering. Today, the “V” model of systems engineering is still used, but in shorter increments and in a more collaborative and integrated manner towards a broader understanding of the mission and system lifecycle. . It’s imbued with the agility to iteratively take advantage of new technological advancements and capabilities as they develop. Technology is providing the answer and in part driving change, as modern engineering practices have overtaken current policies and processes.

Industry is rising to the challenge.

“In our industry, success is not just about speed on the battlefield, but speed on the battlefield. Working with data of all formats and linking high fidelity models allows us to be faster and more predictive in our execution, ”said Wes Kremer, president of Raytheon Missiles & Defense. “Our investments in digital design allow us to connect a mechanical model and a thermal model to a performance model and a cost model. We create a common thread throughout the product lifecycle and we are already seeing the benefits of this approach. It’s exciting because we’re only scratching the surface of what this technology can do.

For years, engineers have relied on digital technology for important analyzes (finite element analysis for example). These tools provide an understanding of a specific aspect of a design (i.e. stress and strain under various load conditions). But these are static analyzes. Modern practices simulate the attributes of a complete system under dynamic conditions, a much more daunting challenge that integrates various domains into a whole.

Modern engineering practices evolving within the defense community include, among others, mission engineering, modeling and simulation, numerical engineering, modular approach to open systems, field engineering, system security and agile software development. Indeed, there are initiatives within the Ministry of Defense dealing with each of them. The real challenge is to integrate them into a systems engineering model, one that overcomes the built-in resistance of the procurement process based on federal procurement regulations and that covers the entire system lifecycle with a “Digital wire”.

NDIA is deeply committed to modernizing systems engineering and transforming the Pentagon acquisition through its NDIA Systems Engineering division and industry-led committees.

The System of Systems Committee (SoS) is working with the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering on its Mission Engineering initiative to bring an industrial perspective to the process – this not only includes building well things, but also to build the right things. Judith Dahmann of MITER is leading the division’s initiative in collaboration with the department’s R&E mission engineering team.

The committee supports bimonthly systems of systems webinars as well as mission engineering webinars through the SoS Engineering Collaborators Information Exchange ([email protected]). The division’s Mission Engineering Work Team, which includes the Modeling, Simulation, and Architecture committees, supports the continued development and application of the DoD Mission Engineering Guide that provides practitioners with Department of Defense and Industrial Base a solid understanding of the main attributes, methodology and lexicon associated with mission engineering.

The Division’s Architecture Committee is working hard on two areas of transformation: digital engineering and the modular open systems approach, or MOSA.

Digital engineering facilitates the automation and encoding of systems engineering and resulting process results in a digital environment, updating traditional practices to take advantage of modern computer technology, modeling and simulation, analysis and data science.

The division committee working in this area is headed by Robert Scheurer of Boeing. He supports the assessment, industrial base implementation and increased use of digital engineering as a member of the OUSD Digital Engineering (R&E) Working Group.

The committee provides industry sector advice and advocacy on the challenges of using digital artifacts across the government-industry border. Critical issues assessed include interoperability of models in acquisition processes, identifying and maintaining authoritative data sources throughout the acquisition lifecycle, and measuring outcomes and outcomes. A key challenge is consistency between the programs and services of the resulting engineering products, or digital artifacts, that are produced through digital engineering. Another is how digital engineering will change acquisition stages and engagements that were traditionally multi-day meetings with large amounts of drawings and documents.

Ensuring that digital artifacts are accessible, managed, and deliver sustainable long-term value is a critical attribute in this new environment.

The Architecture Committee also provides industry input to the Modular Open Systems Collaborative Working Group, which promotes modular open engineering principles and representative solutions through military services and other agencies. He is an active contributor to the Modular Open Systems Community of Practice website, hosted by Defense Acquisition University. The modular open systems approach is an integrated business / engineering architectural approach to achieve competitive and affordable procurement and maintenance throughout the system lifecycle. The advantages of MOSA are increased competition, facilitating the updating of technology, providing a framework for innovation, increasing opportunities for savings and cost avoidance, and improving interoperability.

As the digital transformation progresses, the security of our technical systems must be ensured. Cory Ocker of Raytheon leads the System Security Engineering Committee which has partnered with the Air Force Cyber ​​Resilience Office for Weapons Systems to provide an industry perspective during the development of the Air Force CROWS System Security Cyber ​​Engineering Guide. The guide was recognized with accolades in the Government Accountability Office’s latest report on “Cyber ​​Security of Weapons Systems: Guidance to Help DoD Programs Better Communicate Requirements to Contractors”, which was released in March.

The committee also reviews and provides input from subject matter experts and practitioners on industry standards related to systems security engineering, such as NIST SP 800-37, NIST SP 800-160, NIST SP 800-161, and maintains an ongoing partnership with OUSD (R&E) for the strategic protection and exploitation of technologies, the J-6 staff for cyber survival and the OSD DTE & A for cybersecurity.

The R&E Systems Engineering Modernization Initiative, which is developing a plan to update the Department of Defense’s systems engineering guidelines, ties it all together. NDIA supports the initiative to establish, maintain and disseminate leading edge systems engineering practices, policies and advice, as well as workforce development. Goals are processes that maintain the essential rigor inherent in the discipline of systems engineering while improving the speed of resolution of systems capabilities, which will bring the latest technology into service as quickly as possible. The approach is scalable, given the complexity of the challenges and the need to change a culture rooted in a traditional approach.

The Education and Training Committee, chaired by Dr. Robert Raygan of Defense Acquisition University, looks at workforce and training issues as it relates to modernization of systems engineering.

The committee is working with seven organizations from the Ministry of Defense and Industry to develop a course on workforce transformation and will host a two-hour roundtable on workforce issues during the mission engineering conference in Orlando.

Update on the 24th Annual Systems and Mission Engineering Conference
The Systems and Mission Engineering conference will now be held virtually. The increase in COVID cases associated with the associated travel restrictions has resulted in the conference moving to a virtual platform. The theme of this year’s conference revolves around the modernization of systems engineering. Keynote speakers, Raytheon Missiles & Defense President Wes Kremer and U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Eric Fick, program manager for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office, adjust their schedules to participate virtually. The new dates for the virtual conference are December 6-9.

Also new this year, the NDIA Integrated Program Management and Test & Evaluation divisions will join the event to cover a wider range of disciplines necessary for the acquisition and development of effective systems.

Holly Dunlap is Senior Senior Systems Engineer at Raytheon and Dave Chesebrough is Vice President of Divisions at NDIA.

The subjects: Emerging technologies


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