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Design in the New Millennium: ADVANCED ENGINEERING ENVIRONMENTS Appendix B Recommendations from the Phase 1 Report Listed below are the findings, recommendations, and barriers that appear in the Phase 1 report produced by the Committee on Advanced Engineering Environments, Advanced Engineering Environments—Achieving the Vision (1999). A HISTORIC OPPORTUNITY 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. 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 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. REQUIREMENTS AND BENEFITS 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, multi-faceted 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
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Design in the New Millennium: ADVANCED ENGINEERING ENVIRONMENTS 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 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 Recommendations related to each of these areas appear below. A complete list of barriers appears in Table B-1. Integration of Tools, Systems, and Data 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 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 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. 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 non-technical (i.e., cultural, psychological, and social) aspects of AEE development and implementation.
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Design in the New Millennium: ADVANCED ENGINEERING ENVIRONMENTS 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 appropriate 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 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 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 the more effective integration of 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. 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 efforts, 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.
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Design in the New Millennium: ADVANCED ENGINEERING ENVIRONMENTS TABLE B-1 Barriers to Achieving the AEE Vision (from the Phase 1 Report) Integration of Tools, Systems, and Data Lack of tool interoperability Continued proliferation of tools, which aggravates interoperability issues Existing investments in legacy systems and the difficulty of integrating legacy systems with advanced tools that support AEE capabilities Little effort by most software vendors to address interoperability or data exchange issues outside of their own suite of tools Multiple hardware platform issues—computers, hardware, databases, and operating systems Lack of formal or informal standards for interfaces, files, and data terminology Increasing complexity of the tools that would support AEE capabilities Difficulty of inserting emerging and advanced technologies, tools, and processes into current product and service environments Supplier integration issues Difficulty of integrating AEE technologies and systems with other industry-wide initiatives, such as product data management, enterprise resource management, design for manufacturability/ assembly, and supply chain management Information Management Proliferation of all types of information, which makes it difficult to identify and separate important information from the flood of available information Difficulty of maintaining configuration management for product designs, processes, and resources Need to provide system “agility” so that different types of users can easily input, extract, understand, move, change, and store data using familiar formats and terminology Difficulty of upgrading internal infrastructures to support large bandwidths associated with sharing of data and information Need to provide system security and to protect proprietary data without degrading system efficiency Culture, Management, and Economics Difficulty of justifying a strong corporate commitment to implementing AEE technologies or systems because of their complexity and uncertainties regarding costs, metrics, and benefits Lack of practical metrics for determining the effectiveness of AEE technologies that have been implemented Unknowns concerning the total costs of implementing AEE technologies and systems and the return on investment Difficulty of securing funding to cover the often high initial and maintenance costs of new AEE technologies and systems in a cost-constrained environment Risk—and someone to assume the risk (management, system providers, or customers) Planning and timing issues—when to bring in the new and retire the old Difficulty of managing constant change as vendors continually upgrade AEE tools and other technologies Diversity of cultures among different units of the same company Education and Training Need to upgrade labor force skills along with technology and tools to support an AEE capability Difficulty of incorporating AEE technologies into university design curricula
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