Digital Engineering: Speed and Confidence for DOD

By Brian Haan, Chief Solutions Architect

Digital technologies have revolutionized industry, connecting us like never before and fundamentally changing how we think and work together and manage activities. In its Digital Engineering Strategy, the Department of Defense acknowledges that it’s time to change how the world’s most complex systems are acquired, engineered, operated, sustained, and retired.

SAIC was part of the team that helped set the DoD’s vision, with our members chairing and participating in digital engineering-related working groups in professional organizations such as the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE). The armed forces are all leaning forward into DoD’s vision, and model-based systems engineering (MBSE) is one key, transformative driver of digital engineering.

The Navy, for example, is already using MBSE in acquisitions of new capabilities, such as its unmanned, carrier-based tanker. Navy leadership expects MBSE to:

  • Provide better information and understanding of system designs
  • Increase the flexibility of its systems to adapt to changing mission requirements
  • Improve communication both within and across teams
  • Raise the efficiency of technical insertions into its mission
  • Improve confidence that required capabilities will be delivered

Having been part of setting the DoD’s vision is great, and now comes the part of executing it. By investing in processes, methods, capabilities, and workforce development over the last several years, SAIC has built a multi-security MBSE/digital engineering infrastructure and team.

Whether defense agencies use our MBSE/digital engineering infrastructure as a service or call upon us to build infrastructures for them, they gain better control over their knowledge bases, program life cycles, workforces, and decisions. Leveraging the analytical threads and knowing the trade-offs of decisions, they can move quickly on design and technical integrations with assuredness.

We introduced digital engineering into our own internal processes. SAIC now determines the best ways to inject digital engineering into current work activities supporting customers’ programs. They include feature-based model curation and excecutable operational models.

We were recognized at the 2019 Conference on Systems Engineering Research for best forward-thinking paper. Our paper was determined to exemplify the use of data and standards in systems engineering process ontology research. The work described in our paper is paving the way for true end-to-end augmentation of artificial intelligence and machine learning to drive systems engineering workflows and artifact quality.

The CSER recognition validates our MBSE domain expertise. We are pushing the boundaries of traditional systems engineering toward digital model-based acquisition for the DoD, in support of the department's overall digital transformation to maintain its military advantage.

More from Brian Haan: Why digital engineering is crucial for space success

FURTHER READING: SAIC is working with the DoD at the intersection of digital engineering and high performance computing to accelerate advanced capabilities. Click below to learn more.

DoD Leverages Supercomputing

Engineering Is Evolving with Digital Twins

Quick-Response Modeling Provides Timely Answers

 

About the author: Brian Haan has 25 years of systems engineering, mission engineering, and reliability experience covering multiple mission domains for defense and intelligence community customers. He leads technical research and development of digital engineering, systems engineering, and model-based systems engineering methodologies in SAIC’s Solutions & Technology Group. His work in data architecture and design has netted multimillion-dollar savings across multiple programs. He has led large systems engineering organizations as well as payload operations procedures.