Report Number: Technical Report SERC-2017-TR-107
Report Name: Design and Development Tools for the Systems Engineering Experience Accelerator – Part 3
Publication Date: April 29, 2017
The Department of Defense (DOD) faces many challenges related to deploying new systems to meet the needs of the warfighter. Among these are compressed development times and increased capabilities required. There is a real need for systems engineering expertise in the acquisition enterprise to guide the technical design, development, integration and testing of such systems. At the same time, there is a potential skills gap due to an aging workforce, many of whom are near retirement, and the experience curve needed to bring new talent up-to-speed. Often, this experience curve takes many years and spans multiple programs. The idea behind the Systems Engineering Experience Accelerator (SEEA) is to accelerate the experience curve so that new talent can become proficient much more quickly to meet DoD needs. This is done by using educational technology, and specifically the notion of role-playing in immersive environments where a learner not only leans the technical skills associated with a systems engineering position, but also critical skills in persuasion and decision-making needed to deploy technical skills effectively. The original SEEA was developed to let the learner play the role of a chief systems engineer in an acquisition program for a new unmanned aerial vehicle system. It was developed using standard programming tools. Clearly, though, there are many different systems engineering skills and competencies needed beyond one such educational experience. The goal then became t develop a library of such experiences. To do so quickly and cost efficiently, it was determined that a higher-level set of tools were need to support development, especially tailored to individuals without substantial programming expertise. Thus, an effort was initiated to create a suite of such tools. This report details the third part of development of these tools. They consist of three suites of tools. Simulation Modeler enables an experience designer create and tune simulation models and output charts that advance the state of a simulated world with which the learner interacts in the role of a systems engineer. Experience Builder lets the designer specify the different learning phase, cycles, events and communications experienced by the learner. Learning Assessor lets the designer determine what learning data to capture and how to analyze it to determine the effectiveness of different learning experiences. In addition, this report describes an upgrade of the Experience Accelerator infrastructure to HTML5, which allows for more flexibility in developing functionality and interfaces for different experiences, and is critical for supporting compliance with regulations governing accessibility (Section 508 compliance). The report describes evaluation of the tools by active users. The risk and mitigation plan worked well in supporting the successful completion of all the objectives of this task that did not have dependencies on other work. In addition, a new capability not envisioned at the beginning of this project, the NPC Editor, was developed and evaluated. The report concludes with recommendations for future work.
- Yvette Rodriguez, Defense Acquisition University
- Jing Liu, Georgia Institute of Technology
- Peizhu Zhang, Stevens Institute of Technology