Transforming System Engineering through Model-Centric Engineering
Systems Engineering and Systems Management Transformation
Report Number: SERC-2016-TR-109
Publication Date: 2016-09-01
Project: Transforming Systems Engineering through Model Based Systems Engineering-NAVAIR
Dr. Mark Blackburn
This is the interim report of the Systems Engineering Research Center (SERC) research task RT-157. This research task (RT) is addressing the next phase of research challenges following the prior efforts under RT-48/118/141 that informed us that model-centric engineering (MCE) is in use and adoption seems to be accelerating. Model-centric engineering1 can be characterized as an overarching digital engineering approach that integrates different model types with simulations, surrogates, systems and components at different levels of abstraction and fidelity across disciplines throughout the lifecycle. Industry is trending towards more integration of computational capabilities, models, software, hardware, platforms, and humans-in-the-loop. The integrated perspectives provide cross-domain views for rapid system level analysis allowing engineers from various disciplines using dynamic models and surrogates to support continuous and often virtual verification and validation for tradespace decisions in the face of changing mission needs.
NAVAIR senior leadership confirmed in late 2015 that the research findings and analysis have validated their vision hypothesis stated at the System Engineering Transformation kickoff meeting of RT-48. They concluded that NAVAIR must move quickly to keep pace with the other organizations that have adopted MCE and who continue to evolve at an accelerating pace enabled by the advances in computational and modeling technologies, and improved methods. NAVAIR must also transform in order to continue to perform effective oversight of weapon system development by primes that are using modern modeling methods for system development. The risks of not moving forward include making acquisition decisions with progressively less technical-truth insight and the proliferation of disparate, redundant and stovepiped data and models, and lacking MCE capabilities and knowledge needed to understand an increasingly complex problem and design space.
The path forward has challenges but also many opportunities, both technical and sociotechnical. It must include a modeling framework with high performance computing (HPC) that enables single source of technical truth (SSTT), integration of multi-domain and multi-physics models, and provides for a method for model integrity. The modeling and infrastructure for a digital engineering environment is a critical step to enable a SSTT. While there are literally thousands of tools, they are often federated and there is no one single solution that can be purchased. Every organization providing inputs to this research has had to architect and engineer their model-centric engineering environment. Most have selected commercial tools and have developed the integrating fabric between the different tools, models, and data. This approach often uniquely positions them with some advantages among the rest. Some organizations have encoded historical knowledge in reference models, model patterns to embed methodological guidance to support continuous orchestration of analysis through new modeling metrics, and automated workflow.
The kickoff of RT-157 in January 2016 defined a research plan to investigate challenge areas include but are not limited to:
- Cross-domain integration of models to address the heterogeneity of the various tools and environments
- Model integrity to ensure trust in the model predictions by understanding and quantifying margins and uncertainty
- Modeling methodologies that can embed demonstrated best practices and provide computational technologies for real-time training within digital engineering environments
- Multidisciplinary System Engineering transformation roadmap that looks across:
o Technologies and their evolution o How people interact through digitally enabled technologies and new needed competencies
o How methodologies enabled by technologies change and subsume processes
o How acquisition organizations and industry operate in a digital engineering environment throughout the phases of the lifecycle (including operations and sustainment)
o Governance within this new digital and continually adapting environment
In March of 2016, there was a Change of Command at AIR 4.0 (Research and Engineering). NAVAIR decided to accelerate the Systems Engineering (SE) transformation. NAVAIR has created a broader Plan Objectives, Action and Milestones (POA&M) for 2016-2018 exceeding 600 items. Some of those items correspond to RT-157 tasks. NAVAIR would like more SERC involvement to assist in the SET Acceleration and proposed new tasking for a follow-up RT-170. Notionally as shown in Figure 1, the broader POA&M has a layered approach where the needed research provides analyses into NAVAIR enterprise capability, but builds on efforts for cross-domain model integration and model integrity (per RT-157). While the SERC research was directed to focus on the Program of Record (POR)/systems level, a NAVAIR strategy for accelerating capability delivery to the warfighter is also looking at a new operational paradigm for conducting acquisition and design. This report discusses the accomplishments to date and alignment of the future objectives to the new and evolving NAVAIR strategy based on MCE/DE.