5
A Historic Opportunity Findings and Recommendations

The committee believes that a historic opportunity exists today to foster the maturation of AEE technologies and to integrate them into comprehensive, robust AEE systems. As the capabilities of computational systems and the sophistication of engineering models and simulations advance, AEE technologies will become more common in both the private and public sectors. However, it remains to be seen how quickly AEE technologies and systems will be developed and what capabilities they will demonstrate, particularly in the critical area of interoperability. Within the federal government, the Department of Defense, NASA, Department of Energy, NSF, and National Institute of Standards and Technology have much at stake in terms of their ability to accomplish complex, technically challenging missions and/or to maximize the return on their investments in the development of AEE technologies and systems for use by outside organizations.

In the 1960s, the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA, the predecessor to DARPA) started development of a decentralized computer network. That effort produced the ARPANET, which became both a test bed for networking technologies and a precursor to the Internet. ARPA took advantage of a historic opportunity created by new technological capabilities to initiate a revolution in communications. A similar opportunity exists today, but the technological challenges facing AEEs are more complex. The barriers to successful deployment are also more varied and substantial. As a result, the current opportunity is too big for any one organization. Success will require the cooperative efforts of a broad coalition of organizations.

Finding 1. A historic opportunity now exists to develop AEE technologies and systems that could revolutionize computer-based engineering processes, just as the Internet has revolutionized computer-based communications. This opportunity is too big for any one organization to realize on its own.

Recommendation 1. To take full advantage of the opportunity represented by AEEs, a government-industry-academia partnership should be formed. This partnership should foster the development of AEE technologies and systems in the following ways:

  • Develop open architectures and functional specifications for AEEs to guide the development of broadly applicable, interoperable tools.
  • Create specific plans for transitioning the results of research and development by government and academic organizations to the commercial software industry and/or software users (e.g., the aerospace or automotive industries), as appropriate.
  • Develop an approach for resolving information management and organizational issues.

AEEs can reach their full potential only if many organizations are willing to use them, and the involvement of a broad partnership in the development of AEE technologies and systems would create equally broad benefits. For example, cooperation from other government agencies and industry is essential for NASA to achieve the objectives of the ISE functional initiative (see Table 2-1). However, it is not necessary for individual agencies, such as NASA, to await the formation of a broad partnership before moving in the direction suggested in Recommendation 1. In fact, NASA's actions could stimulate broad interest and demonstrate the mutual benefits of forming partnerships.

Recommendation 2. As part of its ongoing AEE research and development, NASA should draft a plan for creating a broad government-industry-academia partnership. In addition, to demonstrate the utility of partnerships on a small scale, NASA should charter a joint industry-academia-government advisory panel that focuses on interactions between NASA and outside organizations. This panel should periodically identify areas of overlap (1) between high-payoff requirements of external users and NASA's research and development capabilities, and (2) between the



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5 A Historic Opportunity Findings and Recommendations The committee believes that a historic opportunity exists today to foster the maturation of AEE technologies and to integrate them into comprehensive, robust AEE systems. As the capabilities of computational systems and the sophistication of engineering models and simulations advance, AEE technologies will become more common in both the private and public sectors. However, it remains to be seen how quickly AEE technologies and systems will be developed and what capabilities they will demonstrate, particularly in the critical area of interoperability. Within the federal government, the Department of Defense, NASA, Department of Energy, NSF, and National Institute of Standards and Technology have much at stake in terms of their ability to accomplish complex, technically challenging missions and/or to maximize the return on their investments in the development of AEE technologies and systems for use by outside organizations. In the 1960s, the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA, the predecessor to DARPA) started development of a decentralized computer network. That effort produced the ARPANET, which became both a test bed for networking technologies and a precursor to the Internet. ARPA took advantage of a historic opportunity created by new technological capabilities to initiate a revolution in communications. A similar opportunity exists today, but the technological challenges facing AEEs are more complex. The barriers to successful deployment are also more varied and substantial. As a result, the current opportunity is too big for any one organization. Success will require the cooperative efforts of a broad coalition of organizations. Finding 1. A historic opportunity now exists to develop AEE technologies and systems that could revolutionize computer-based engineering processes, just as the Internet has revolutionized computer-based communications. This opportunity is too big for any one organization to realize on its own. Recommendation 1. To take full advantage of the opportunity represented by AEEs, a government-industry-academia partnership should be formed. This partnership should foster the development of AEE technologies and systems in the following ways: Develop open architectures and functional specifications for AEEs to guide the development of broadly applicable, interoperable tools. Create specific plans for transitioning the results of research and development by government and academic organizations to the commercial software industry and/or software users (e.g., the aerospace or automotive industries), as appropriate. Develop an approach for resolving information management and organizational issues. AEEs can reach their full potential only if many organizations are willing to use them, and the involvement of a broad partnership in the development of AEE technologies and systems would create equally broad benefits. For example, cooperation from other government agencies and industry is essential for NASA to achieve the objectives of the ISE functional initiative (see Table 2-1). However, it is not necessary for individual agencies, such as NASA, to await the formation of a broad partnership before moving in the direction suggested in Recommendation 1. In fact, NASA's actions could stimulate broad interest and demonstrate the mutual benefits of forming partnerships. Recommendation 2. As part of its ongoing AEE research and development, NASA should draft a plan for creating a broad government-industry-academia partnership. In addition, to demonstrate the utility of partnerships on a small scale, NASA should charter a joint industry-academia-government advisory panel that focuses on interactions between NASA and outside organizations. This panel should periodically identify areas of overlap (1) between high-payoff requirements of external users and NASA's research and development capabilities, and (2) between the

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capabilities of external organizations and NASA's own requirements. This would facilitate technology transfer and allow NASA to focus its AEE research and development on the areas of greatest need. Recommendation 2 is not intended to imply that NASA should necessarily take a leadership role in the national partnership described in Recommendation 1. However, NASA could get the process started by carrying out Recommendation 2. Once a national partnership is in place, individual agencies, corporations, and universities could take the lead in specialized areas consistent with their capabilities. In addition, subgroups could be formed to engage in mutual beneficial, collaborative efforts. The findings and recommendations in the remainder of this chapter provide additional near-term guidance for achieving AEE requirements and benefits, overcoming the barriers to success, and assigning appropriate organizational roles. The Phase 2 report, which will be published separately, will address long-term actions. The Statement of Task for this study directed the committee to pay particular attention to NASA and the aerospace industry. As a result, some findings and recommendations address issues specific to NASA and are meant primarily for NASA. In most cases, however, the committee determined that the issues relevant to NASA and the aerospace industry were also relevant to other organizations involved in the development and/or use of AEE technologies or systems, and most of the findings and recommendations are, therefore, directed to a broader audience. Requirements and Benefits The top-level AEE objectives identified by the committee encompass the primary requirements that AEEs should satisfy and the key benefits they will provide. These requirements are applicable to both industry and government, although the method of implementation will vary for different organizations and applications. Despite these variations, there are opportunities for organizations to benefit from joint solutions and from the lessons learned by others who have progressed farther with implementing AEE technologies. Translating top-level objectives into specific, realistic program goals can be difficult, both for research organizations developing new AEE technologies and systems and for operational organizations planning to insert them into their design and manufacturing processes. One approach to AEE development is to identify areas where improved analytical capabilities are needed, to prioritize improvements in terms of their potential impact on key parameters (e.g., cost, schedule, or risk), to develop and integrate improved tools to achieve the highest priority objectives, and then to restructure organizational processes to take advantage of new capabilities, addressing cultural and procedural issues as they arise. A number of methods, such as QFD, can be used to facilitate the prioritization process. Recommendation 3. Current AEE research and development is too diffuse and should be focused on the following top-level objectives: Enable complex new systems, products, and missions. Greatly reduce product development cycle time and costs. In addition, AEE technology and system developers should devise a comprehensive, multifaceted implementation process that meets the following objectives: Lower technical, cultural, and educational barriers. Apply AEEs broadly across U.S. government, industry, and academia. Finding 2. The top-level goals that NASA has established for the Intelligent Synthesis Environment functional initiative address important AEE requirements. However, given the resources that NASA plans to allocate to the initiative, the objectives of this initiative are overly ambitious. NASA plans to adjust the objectives accordingly. Recommendation 4. NASA should establish an AEE ''center of gravity" that is empowered to select the high-priority analyses and processes that will be developed, integrated, and deployed as a mission design system. To ensure success, the location, leadership, and staff of the center of gravity should be carefully selected to reflect the differing needs, capabilities, and perspectives of NASA' s operational and research Centers. In addition, NASA should allocate resources for the ongoing maintenance of the mission design system and better coordinate related activities with outside organizations, in accordance with Recommendations 1 and 2. Barriers Finding 3. Efforts by industry and government to develop and deploy AEEs face significant barriers in the following areas: integration of tools, systems, and data lack of tool interoperability proliferation of tools existing investments in legacy systems information management proliferation of all types of information configuration-management issues cultural, management, and economic issues difficulty of justifying a strong corporate commitment to implementing AEE technologies or systems

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lack of practical metrics for determining AEE effectiveness unknowns concerning implementation costs education and training training of the current workforce education of the future workforce Integration of Tools, Systems, and Data To be effective, AEEs must be constructed with a high degree of interoperability among all system components. However, despite steady evolution, state-of-the-art AEE tools are still mostly a collection of uncoupled or loosely coupled tools. Lack of interoperability is a major barrier to the efficient use of AEEs that warrants focused, concerted attention. However, a universal solution is not likely to be found in the near term, and interoperability issues are likely to remain a significant "cost of doing business." Interoperability issues should be prioritized and met head on to reduce this cost as quickly as possible. Long-term solutions will require continual pressure from user groups and the exploitation of new or enhanced information technologies, such as Internet-based tools. The integration of advanced engineering and design tools has concentrated on and been successful in geometry, mechanical integration, and analysis. The use of computing to solve large, complex physical problems in areas such as weather, combustion, fluid dynamics, and aerodynamics has also been highly successful. Many complex products and missions, however, especially those related to aeronautics and space, are becoming increasingly dependent on synthesis and integration of software and other complex systems (e.g., avionics). To be effective in the largest number of applications, AEEs must include process-based models that are integrated with other AEE tools. These models should also integrate the capabilities and knowledge of the electronics and mechanical design communities to produce vehicles that effectively integrate electronics and mechanical systems. Traditional methods of establishing software standards are not working because AEE technologies are advancing rapidly and involve many different organizations. In addition, not enough is being done to develop the most difficult analysis capabilities, such as predicting cost, risk, and manufacturability. Although goals such as CAD systems that are fully interoperable are worthwhile, they will be difficult to achieve, and AEE development should not be deferred because these ancillary goals have not been achieved. Instead, efforts should proceed in parallel in all key areas. Recommendation 5. For AEEs to succeed, a practical approach must be developed for improving the interoperability of new product and process models, tools, and systems and linking them with legacy tools, systems, and data. Sponsors of AEE research and development should consider the integration of AEE product and process models, tools, data, and technologies related to software, avionics, manufacturing, operations, maintenance, economics, and other areas as a fundamental requirement. Recommendation 6. Government agencies and other organizations with a large stake in the successful development of AEEs should interact more effectively with standards groups to facilitate the development of interoperable product and process models, tools, systems, and data, as well as open system architectures. Specific high-priority interoperating capabilities should be defined along with action plans, incentives, and schedules for establishing appropriate standards and achieving specified levels of interoperability. Information Management Most AEE R&D is focused on operational aspects, such as the development and integration of sophisticated tools and simulations. Supporting technologies, however, can be just as important. For example, automated tools and simulations will create a flood of data characterizing the results of simulated tests of new designs and design modifications. Automated data management systems will be necessary to maximize the amount of information that can be efficiently extracted from the data and minimize personnel requirements. Finding 4. There is a lack of commonality in product and process descriptions within user organizations, among user organizations, and between users and suppliers. As a result, users must often customize commercially available tools before they can be used, which greatly reduces the cost effectiveness of new tools. Recommendation 7. Corporate and government leaders should seize the opportunity to develop robust and flexible AEE tools for creating, managing, and assessing computer-generated data; presenting relevant data to operators clearly and efficiently; maintaining configuration-management records for products, processes, and resources; and storing appropriate data on a long-term basis. Cultural, Management, and Economic Issues Cultural, management, and economic issues often impede the implementation of new, technically advanced systems, such as AEEs. Issues include the diversity of cultures among different organizations and among different business units of the same company. In many cases, management is not committed to the implementation of AEE technologies because of uncertainties about costs, return on investment, when and how to insert AEE technologies into operational

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processes, the risk involved in deploying AEE technologies, and the availability of metrics for accurately predicting their effectiveness before implementation and measuring their effectiveness afterwards. Managing constant change, as vendors of AEE tools and technologies continually upgrade their products, is a daunting task. Resolving these and other issues will require a dedicated effort by organizations interested in developing or implementing AEE technologies or systems. Many of the information technology tools currently used were designed without adequate regard for the cultural, psychological, and social aspects of the user environment. These tools have, therefore, not been as successful as traditional methods based on face-to-face interactions. Organizations may have to be restructured or flexible organizational structures created to foster a sense of purpose and belonging among geographically dispersed staff members. Finding 5. Historically, not enough attention has been paid to the organizational, cultural, psychological, and social aspects of the user environment associated with AEE technologies. Recommendation 8. AEEs should be integrated into the senior management culture of any organization that elects to make a major investment in developing or implementing AEE technologies or systems. Each organization should designate a "champion" with the responsibility, authority, and resources to achieve approved AEE objectives. The champion should be supported by a team of senior managers, technical experts (including human factors experts, social scientists, and psychologists), and other critical stakeholders (e.g., suppliers, subcontractors, and customers typically involved in major projects). Similar, subordinate teams should be assembled in major organizational elements or facilities involved in the AEE project. Guidance from these teams should be consistent with the organization's role in product development or mission operations and compatible with engineering practices already in place. In the past, NASA has used its contracting authority to mandate the adoption of specific technologies. For example, NASTRAN1 was created by a consortium of companies under contract to NASA in the early 1970s. NASA subsequently made copies of NASTRAN available to software developers, and several commercial versions were introduced. NASTRAN has been used extensively by automotive, aircraft, and spacecraft companies worldwide. The widespread adoption of NASTRAN was facilitated by the requirement that NASA contractors use NASTRAN in selected procurements. Finding 6. Government agencies have frequently used contract provisions to influence the business practices of their contractors. This approach has also been used, on occasion, to influence engineering practices. Recommendation 9. Government agencies involved in the acquisition of complex engineering systems should provide incentives for contractors to implement appropriate AEE technologies and systems and to document lessons learned. For example, AEE research and development funds could be used to provide contractual incentives for contractors to develop, test, demonstrate, implement, and/or validate AEE technologies and systems as part of major procurements. These incentives should target both technical and nontechnical (i.e., cultural, psychological, and social) aspects of AEE development and implementation. The committee was concerned about apparently inadequate coordination among AEE-related activities at NASA's operational and research Centers. As an organization, NASA has yet to develop a shared vision or common motivation for AEEs. The committee also believes that NASA should develop a greater appreciation for organizational, behavioral, and other nontechnological barriers to fielding new AEE technologies successfully. Recommendation 10. NASA should define an agency-wide plan for the development and implementation of comprehensive, improved engineering processes, practices, and technologies. The NASA-wide teams directing the Intelligent Synthesis Environment functional initiative should be consolidated and strengthened to improve their ability to perform the following functions: Define distinct AEE requirements and goals for NASA operational and research Centers. Ensure that NASA's AEE activities take advantage of commercially available tools and systems to avoid duplication of effort. Overcome cultural barriers within NASA so that new AEE technologies and systems will be accepted and used. Disseminate AEE plans, information, and tools at all levels of NASA. Provide centralized oversight of AEE research and development conducted by NASA. Education and Training AEEs will fulfill their potential only if users develop and maintain proficiency. For example, if universities graduate engineers who are not familiar with AEE technologies or the benefits they can provide, they will add to the barriers industry must overcome. On the other hand, if universities create a new cadre of AEE-knowledgeable engineers, they will 1   The name NASTRAN originated as an abbreviation for NASA structural analysis.

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carry that knowledge with them and facilitate the adoption of AEE technologies by industry. This may be difficult for universities to do, however, because AEE technologies are advancing quickly, and tools are updated frequently. Current university curricula are mostly oriented towards a single discipline; interdisciplinary projects are rare—particularly in the capstone design projects that all engineering disciplines require of their undergraduates. AEEs are interdisciplinary by nature and, their greatest potential is for solving interdisciplinary problems. Sophisticated AEE tools have a steep learning curve, which is a significant barrier to their implementation by industry or government. Training (e.g., helping students to become proficient with particular software packages) has not been, and should not be, the mission of undergraduate university curricula. However, AEE-related training might be a legitimate component of continuing education programs, distance education programs, five-year undergraduate engineering programs, or government programs, such as NASA's cooperative education program for engineering students. Training by specialized technical schools, as well as community colleges, could also reduce the training barrier. Recommendation 11. An advisory panel with representatives from industry, universities, the National Science Foundation, NASA Centers, and other government agencies and laboratories should be convened by NASA or some other federal agency involved in AEE research and development. The panel should define incentives for accelerating the incorporation of AEE technologies into the engineering curriculum, define the basic elements that would comprise a suitable AEE experience for students, and specify resource needs. Organizational Roles Developing and implementing AEEs with broad applicability is a daunting challenge that will require the best efforts of industry, government, and academia. Although competitive concerns preclude complete openness in industry, a high degree of interorganizational cooperation and coordination is both desirable and feasible to avoid duplication of effort and to enable organizations to focus their energy on areas consistent with their missions and expertise. Recommendation 12. AEEs should use commercially available tools as much as possible. In general, the development of application-specific tools should be left to industry. Government agencies should not develop customized tools that duplicate the capabilities of commercially available tools. If available tools are inadequate, government agencies should consider providing incentives for the development of improved, broadly applicable tools by commercial software vendors instead of developing specialized tools themselves. Government agencies should take the following actions to support the development of broadly applicable AEE technologies, systems, and practices: Improve generic methodologies and automated tools for integrating existing tools and tools that will be developed in the future. Develop better models of specific physical processes that more accurately portray what happens in the real world and quantify uncertainties in model outputs. Identify gaps in the capabilities of currently available tools and support the development of tools that address those gaps, preferably by providing incentives for commercial software vendors to develop broadly applicable tools. Develop test beds that simulate user environments with high fidelity for validating the applicability and utility of new tools and systems. Develop methods to predict the future performance of AEE technologies and systems in specific applications and, once implemented, to measure their success in reaching specified goals. Explore the utility of engineering design theory as a tool for guiding the development of AEE technologies and systems. Use contracting requirements to encourage contractors to adopt available AEE technologies and systems, as appropriate. Address issues related to the organizational, cultural, psychological, and social aspects of the user environment. Provide incentives for the creation of government-industry-academia partnerships to foster the development of AEE technologies and systems AEEs are important to NASA because of their potential to enable the accomplishment of unique aeronautics and space missions. AEE R&D is also consistent with the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958. As currently amended, this statute includes the requirement that NASA "contribute materially to . . . the most effective utilization of the scientific and engineering resources of the United States." Recommendation 13. NASA has many opportunities to achieve its objectives by leveraging the results of long-term AEE research and development by other organizations in government, industry, and academia. NASA also has opportunities to conduct AEE research and development that would be of value to other organizations. To maximize the effectiveness of both, NASA must improve its understanding of the capabilities and requirements of external organizations. NASA should convene a standing, joint industry-academia-government advisory panel (see Recommendation 2) to facilitate technology transfer and enable NASA to focus its AEE research and development on the areas of greatest need.