Technical Report: Transforming Systems Engineering through Model-Centric Engineering

Title: Transforming Systems Engineering through Model-Centric Engineering

Report No.: Technical Report SERC-2017-TR-110

Publication Date: August 8, 2017

Pages from A013_SERC RT 168_Technical Report SERC-2017-TR-110

Executive Summary:

This research task is addressing research needs defined by the United States (US) Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM) Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) in Picatinny, NJ. The purpose of this research task Phase I final technical report is to document the refinement and expansion of those needs and the status of working sessions, demonstrations, presentations, and reports provided to the ARDEC team. These needs are characterized as overarching objectives and goals to elicit requirements for the Armament Virtual Collaboratory Environment (AVCE) integrated Model Based Environment (iMBE). The AVCE iMBE is ARDEC’s envisioned concept of an integrated modeling environment – “the system for designing future ARDEC systems or systems-of-systems.” The intent is to understand the relationships between Systems Engineering (SE) activities and methods in the context of a Digital Thread concept developed by ARDEC.
This research tasks focus on the ARDEC-relevant needs for a transformation for systems engineering enabled by model-centric engineering (MCE). 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.
The path forward has challenges but also many opportunities, both technical and sociotechnical. It must include a modeling framework and consider the use of high performance computing (HPC) that enables single source of truth (SST), integration and interoperability of multi-domain and multi-physics models, and provide for methods for model integrity (trust in the modeling and simulating predictions). The modeling and infrastructure for AVCE iMBE is a critical step to enable a SST. While there are literally thousands of tools, with about 100 at ARDEC, they are often federated and there is no one single solution that is fully integrated that can be purchased. Every organization often has to architect and engineer their model-centric engineering environment. Most, like ARDEC have selected commercial tools that must be integrated with many specialized tools that they have developed for ARDEC-specific needs.
In order to better understand the requirements for the AVCE iMBE, ARDEC initially had three challenge areas, which has been extended to five challenge areas. The SERC research team is involved in four of the five challenge areas. A theme for a case study involves Unmanned Aerial Systems in which to investigate the following five tasks:

  • Task 1: Framework/architecture of development and collaboration environment that support cross-domain integration of models to address the heterogeneity of the various tools and environments
  • Task 2: Formalization of an information model for ARDEC-relevant domains to support capturing and sharing of data
  • Task 3: Technology and domain-relevant modeling methodologies
  • Task 4: Demonstrations in the context of ARDEC-relevant Challenge Areas relevant to Tasks 1, 2, 3 & 5
  • Task 5: System Engineering Transformation Roadmap to roll out capabilities addressing all five perspectives in parallel:
    • Technologies and infrastructure
    • Methodologies and processes
    • People, training, competencies and framework viewpoints and interfaces
    • Operational & contractual paradigms for transformed interactions with industry
    • Governance

These five tasks have been mapped to a set of research uses cases, which are detailed in Section 2 of this report. Part II of this report, Sections 3 through 14 provide details on each of the research use cases. The specific accomplishments include, but are not limited to informing our ARDEC sponsors through five working sessions, one special session and 19 virtual meetings, where we have conducted presentation and demonstrations on many topics such as: Model Centric Engineering, modeling methodologies, Model Frameworks and Verification Tools for Cyber Physical Systems design, Multidisciplinary Design Analysis and Optimization, Decision Framework Approach and High Level Architecture (HLA) for Virtual Reality (VR) Forces demonstrations, mission and system simulations with upstream/downstream data interfaces demonstrations, and graphical CONOPS simulations with gaming technology. One of the high potential areas involves research in semantic web technologies and ontologies as a promising approach to enable cross-domain model through interoperability supporting the capability to enable a single source of truth.
Finally, this research is being conducted in collaboration with two SERC research tasks sponsored by the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) , as well as Department of Defense (DoD) Digital Engineering (DE) Transformation initiative, and our relationship that we have fostered with National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

Click here to find out more about the project.

Additional Researchers:

  • Brian Chell, Stevens Institute of Technology
  • John Dzielski, Stevens Institute of Technology
  • Rick Dove, Stevens Institute of Technology
  • Chris Snyder, Stevens Institute of Technology
  • Edgar Evangelista, Stevens Institute of Technology