5

General Approaches and Roles

This chapter describes the general approaches and roles that industry, government, and academia should take in pursuing more advanced and capable AEEs. The recommendations in the Phase 1 report (which are reprinted in Appendix B of this report) provided initial guidance in this area. The additional information collected for this report confirmed that the originally recommended approach would provide a solid foundation for achieving long-term goals.

Finding 5-1. The Phase 2 study reaffirmed the approach described in the Phase 1 report for developing AEE technologies and systems. That approach includes the following key steps:

  • forming a national partnership of government, industry, and academia to take advantage of the current historic opportunity to develop AEEs

  • forming government-industry-academia AEE partnerships by individual agencies, such as NASA, as an interim step for addressing agency-specific goals while a national partnership is being formed

  • overcoming major barriers related to the integration of systems, tools, and data; information management; cultural, economic, and management issues; and education and training1

  • facilitating the transfer of new capabilities to commercially available products by developing applicationspecific tools required by government through contracts with industry whenever practical

  • focusing the govemment's AEE research and development on key objectives, such as (1) modeling key physical processes, (2) improving generic AEE methodologies and automated tools, (3) developing testbeds that simulate user environments, (4) developing accurate performance metrics, and (5) other areas where market-based incentives are not motivating adequate industry-sponsored research

  • providing government incentives for (1) industry to adopt AEE technologies in government procurements, (2) academia to adopt AEE technologies in major government-sponsored research programs, and (3) industry and academia to collaborate in modernizing educational curricula to prepare students for an AEE work environment

Although some companies have successfully implemented AEE technologies, these efforts are still in the early stages of achieving the 15-year visions described by the IMTR and ISE initiatives. Examples of a positive industrial management approach include Boeing's development of the 777 and subsequent aircraft development projects, the “reinvention ” of the submarine design and manufacturing process by EB (Electric Boat Corporation), and other success stories described in Chapter 2. These examples indicate that AEEs can succeed if organizational management makes a major commitment to initiate the process and see it through despite high initial costs and other implementation problems. Leadership should be provided by an authoritative champion, but the champion should not be a “lone ranger.” Especially at large organizations, a strong support team should be established at management levels above and below the champion to provide multiple layers of leadership, support, and commitment.

Special care should be taken when AEE technologies and systems are developed by one organization for use by another. End users must be involved in product and system development to ensure that the product will meet their needs. Users, however, tend to have a low tolerance for new products that do not work well: they often become frustrated, give up on the product, and are reluctant to try it again in the future even after it has been updated to correct earlier shortcomings. Overcoming this problem will be difficult.

1  

See Chapter 4 and Table B-1.



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Design in the New Millennium: ADVANCED ENGINEERING ENVIRONMENTS 5 General Approaches and Roles This chapter describes the general approaches and roles that industry, government, and academia should take in pursuing more advanced and capable AEEs. The recommendations in the Phase 1 report (which are reprinted in Appendix B of this report) provided initial guidance in this area. The additional information collected for this report confirmed that the originally recommended approach would provide a solid foundation for achieving long-term goals. Finding 5-1. The Phase 2 study reaffirmed the approach described in the Phase 1 report for developing AEE technologies and systems. That approach includes the following key steps: forming a national partnership of government, industry, and academia to take advantage of the current historic opportunity to develop AEEs forming government-industry-academia AEE partnerships by individual agencies, such as NASA, as an interim step for addressing agency-specific goals while a national partnership is being formed overcoming major barriers related to the integration of systems, tools, and data; information management; cultural, economic, and management issues; and education and training1 facilitating the transfer of new capabilities to commercially available products by developing applicationspecific tools required by government through contracts with industry whenever practical focusing the govemment's AEE research and development on key objectives, such as (1) modeling key physical processes, (2) improving generic AEE methodologies and automated tools, (3) developing testbeds that simulate user environments, (4) developing accurate performance metrics, and (5) other areas where market-based incentives are not motivating adequate industry-sponsored research providing government incentives for (1) industry to adopt AEE technologies in government procurements, (2) academia to adopt AEE technologies in major government-sponsored research programs, and (3) industry and academia to collaborate in modernizing educational curricula to prepare students for an AEE work environment Although some companies have successfully implemented AEE technologies, these efforts are still in the early stages of achieving the 15-year visions described by the IMTR and ISE initiatives. Examples of a positive industrial management approach include Boeing's development of the 777 and subsequent aircraft development projects, the “reinvention ” of the submarine design and manufacturing process by EB (Electric Boat Corporation), and other success stories described in Chapter 2. These examples indicate that AEEs can succeed if organizational management makes a major commitment to initiate the process and see it through despite high initial costs and other implementation problems. Leadership should be provided by an authoritative champion, but the champion should not be a “lone ranger.” Especially at large organizations, a strong support team should be established at management levels above and below the champion to provide multiple layers of leadership, support, and commitment. Special care should be taken when AEE technologies and systems are developed by one organization for use by another. End users must be involved in product and system development to ensure that the product will meet their needs. Users, however, tend to have a low tolerance for new products that do not work well: they often become frustrated, give up on the product, and are reluctant to try it again in the future even after it has been updated to correct earlier shortcomings. Overcoming this problem will be difficult. 1   See Chapter 4 and Table B-1.

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Design in the New Millennium: ADVANCED ENGINEERING ENVIRONMENTS Teaming processes and organizational roles are changing. Historically, prime manufacturers selected vendors based on competitive bids for providing precisely defined components or systems. Increasingly, especially in the electronics industry, prime manufacturers are partnering with outside organizations to obtain engineering, design, and manufacturing services. For example, Sun Microsystems often selects a manufacturer for new products before the product is designed. For maximum value, Sun management has learned that product design, development, and testing tasks must be carefully allocated between their own company and product manufacturers. The selection process is intended to choose a manufacturer whose engineering skill set complements Sun's own skill set. The ability to merge work cultures and capabilities with potential manufacturers was not a consideration even 10 years ago. Finding 5-2. Most government, industry, and academic organizations have yet to take advantage of AEE technologies because of technical, cultural, management, and economic problems, some real and others perceived, even though available technologies can tremendously improve products and processes. The advantages of using AEEs cannot be realized with business-as-usual approaches because of the high start-up costs and fundamental technological and cultural changes necessary to implement AEEs. Recommendation 5-1. Federal agencies involved in AEE research and development should be more aggressive in forming a national partnership with industry and academia to develop AEEs that offer seamless, end-to-end engineering design capabilities that encompass the entire life cycles of products and missions. Recommendation 5-2. To deploy AEEs successfully, organizations should identify and resolve organizational issues in addition to improving processes and tools. Each organization should also assign a strong leader or “champion ” supported by the following: a knowledgeable team familiar with lessons learned from similar organizations that have implemented AEE technologies a plan for deploying AEEs that is tailored to the stated objectives and the barriers that must be overcome realization by all levels of the organization that both technical and nontechnical changes are needed in the near term and/or the long term for future success (or, perhaps, survival) long-term commitment by senior executives to the deployment of AEEs despite the costs of setting up new systems and processes and the risks of short-term setbacks willingness of the workforce to accept new methods The technologies for developing AEEs are available, and their performance is improving rapidly. High-bandwidth technologies will enable the Internet of the future to provide much higher data transmission rates than current systems. The committee is convinced that the telecommunications and collaborative capabilities of the hardware and software technologies being developed for the Internet of the future offer the best hope for addressing interoperability issues. Industry, government, and academia each have a role in advancing these technologies. Finding 5-3. Advanced Internet technologies and applications (including operating systems, software architectures, and hardware) are one of the keys to developing AEEs that (1) overcome critical technical issues, such as those associated with interoperability and information management, and (2) facilitate the use of AEEs by small companies. Recommendation 5-3. The government's AEE research and development programs should focus much more on approaches to AEEs that will be compatible with the Internet of the future and information technologies being developed by other programs, such as Internet-2, Next Generation Internet, very high performance Backbone Network Service, and Information Technology Research Initiative. NASA, which is just beginning to implement AEEs across the agency, should strive to make its systems compatible with the AEE technologies and systems used by its research and development partners in industry and academia. Like other federal agencies, NASA could accelerate the adoption of AEEs within the agency and throughout the nation by advocating greater use of AEE technologies by contractors involved in agency programs, capitalizing on commercial technologies, funding research and development to satisfy the agency's specialized needs, and supporting advances in the state of the art in focused areas that industry's near-term, market-driven research and development are not addressing. For example, PCs, the Internet, and CAD tools, as we know them today, would not exist except for extensive government research programs. Finding 5-4. NASA could greatly benefit from increased use of AEEs. However, the conditions necessary for significant, widespread adoption of AEEs do not yet exist in the agency. Recommendation 5-4. Successful implementation of AEEs by NASA will require sustained leadership and commitment, adequate funding, and a cohesive plan that includes all NASA centers, as outlined in Recommendations 4, 10, 11, 12, and 13 of the Phase 1 report: NASA should not create a broad-based AEE research program to develop comprehensive AEE systems.

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Design in the New Millennium: ADVANCED ENGINEERING ENVIRONMENTS Instead, NASA should provide for research and advocacy in areas that AEE research and development sponsored by other organizations do not adequately address, especially areas related to the needs of NASA and the rest of the aerospace industry. NASA should capitalize on industrial advances in AEE technologies. In particular, NASA should investigate how NASA-funded research related to AEEs and the Next Generation Internet can enhance the ability of Internet-related technologies and applications to meet AEE objectives. NASA should form a government-industry-academia partnership for AEEs to help advocate and implement AEEs in the agency and the nation. Industry and government have traditionally viewed universities as research laboratories and as sources of workers with discipline-specific educations (baccalaureate degrees) and independent research experience (advanced degrees). Universities have less often been viewed as developers of new methodologies, applied technologies, testbeds, or integrated systems, especially for complex products or missions. Integrating AEEs with undergraduate and graduate engineering and computer science programs would greatly alter the way students are taught, but it would also produce graduates with a new perspective on engineering design and development processes. When AEE-trained students enter the workforce, they could be a catalyst for changing the culture in industry and government. Change is not guaranteed, however, because organizational cultures are usually defined by the attitudes of experienced workers who may prefer the comfortable familiarity of traditional design and development processes. Government has traditionally supported university research in individual disciplines, although multidisciplinary research projects have become more common in recent years. Many universities are heavily involved in technological advances associated with AEEs (e.g., computing frameworks, multidisciplinary design optimization, and robust design). Universities should accept the importance of working with industry as partners in the scholarship of integration and application, and the government should ensure that universities are appropriately involved in the national AEE partnership. Recommendation 5-5. The federal government should continue to support educational advances related to AEEs in the following ways: Continue to support the development and implementation of new educational methods through programs such as the National Science Foundation 's engineering education coalitions and engineering research centers. Include academia as a key participant in a national partnership on AEEs and other AEE development activities. Fund long-term, high-risk research on AEEs that industry is unlikely to support, including research on academic applications of AEE technologies and systems. Avoid overly restricting the direction or content of long-term, high-risk AEE research sponsored by the government.