Technical Report: Transforming Systems Engineering through Model-Centric Engineering

Report Number: Technical Report SERC-2015-TR-109

Report Name: Transforming Systems Engineering through Model-Centric Engineering

Publication Date: November 18, 2015


Executive Summary

This is the final report of the Systems Engineering Research Center (SERC) research task RT-141 that finalizes the related tasks under RT-48/118. These RTs focused on a Vision held by NAVAIR’s leadership to assess the technical feasibility of a radical transformation through a more holistic model-centric engineering approach. The expected capability of such an approach would enable mission-based analysis and engineering that reduces the typical time by at least 25 percent from what is achieved today for large-scale air vehicle systems. The effort investigates the technical feasibility of moving to a “complete” model-centric lifecycle and includes four overarching and related tasks.

These tasks include:

  •  Task 1: Surveying Industry, Government, and Academia to understand the state-of-the-art of a holistic approach to model-centric engineering (“everything digital”)
  • Task 2: Develop a common lexicon for things related to models, including model types, levels, uses, representation, visualizations, etc.
  • Task 3: Model the “Vision,” but also relate it to the “As Is” and Airworthiness processes
  • Task 4: Integrate a Risk Management framework with the Vision

NAVAIR senior leadership confirmed that the research finding and analysis have validated their vision hypothesis stated at the System Engineering Transformation kickoff meeting of RT-48. They conclude 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 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 stove-piped 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 HPC that enables 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 an 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, automated workflow, and more.

This report aggregates information contained in the final technical reports of RT-48 and RT-118 so that readers can get the key information from this report. The report is structured so that the key findings and next steps are described in the first section. Part II provides additional detail to summarize the efforts that are aligned with tasks 1 through 4.