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CHIPS Articles: Land Systems Integration Team Is Leader in Model-Based Systems Engineering

Land Systems Integration Team Is Leader in Model-Based Systems Engineering
By Michaela Judge, Naval Information Warfare Center Atlantic Public Affairs - August 5, 2019
CHARLESTON, S.C. (NNS) -- The Land Systems Integration (LSI) Division at Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Atlantic continues to be an enterprise leader in Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) for their work on land systems modernization and integration.

MBSE is an engineering approach that utilizes a common, digital tool suite allowing all team members – from engineer to sponsor – to have awareness, line-of-sight and an understanding of the interaction between the various moving parts across the systems engineering and project lifecycle.

LSI’s Vehicular Technology Transition (VTT) team incorporates the full range of MBSE techniques into their systems engineering projects to support the Marine Corps and has had great success in continuing this approach in their daily work.

“What makes LSI and our team specifically successful is the depth of knowledge in implementation of using the MBSE Tool Suite,” said Tim Turner, VTT team lead. “Our engineering work isn’t radically different than any other engineering groups across the Command; it’s how we’re putting the data in the system and making it transparent to everyone that needs to have access to it.”

Though engineers have been performing systems engineering in some capacity for decades, using this model-based approach provides an added advantage to deliver effective and timely solutions to the warfighter.

“Our MBSE Tool Suite is a set of seamlessly integrated engineering lifecycle management tools that work together as one,” said Jacob Witmer, VTT team Military GPS User Equipment (MGUE) project lead. “We use these tools to manage requirements and architectures, plan projects, track changes, manage quality, and provide an enterprise library management system where you catalog, organize, use, reuse, manage, and report on any type of software, technology, or business asset.”

In the vehicle transition domain, the VTT team utilized MBSE techniques to solve real-world challenges for the warfighter. Most recently, they used MBSE to conduct global positioning system (GPS) integration work conducted on the Joint-Light Tactical Vehicle, the MGUE Program’s lead platform.

“When we look at all of the people our team has to work with on this integration project, we have to manage a lot of different data, to include where the trucks are manufactured, where GPS is managed, the performance level of the GPS card, the truck integration and more,” said Witmer. “There are a lot of players, managing a lot of data in a lot of different formats from different geographic parts of the country. That’s really what the MBSE Tool Suite is designed to do – manage, connect and link the data to see how they impact each other.”

One cost-avoidance benefit of using the MBSE Tool Suite, in time and man-hours, includes the ability to quickly build reports.

“We can build 150-page project requirements documents in three minutes because the data is already in the Tool Suite,” said Ryan Longshore, VTT team technical lead. “There is an investment in time and energy upfront in loading the data, but a report that would take 30 to 90 days is done in a matter of minutes and everything from that project is captured in the report.”

The team’s use of MBSE is not only essential to connecting and maintaining data across a project, but also a necessary resource in developing physical models and solutions in a fraction of the time previously needed to fulfill a warfighter requirement.

“Our team works within the Systems Integration Laboratory (SIL) to design and test on multiple vehicular platforms,” said Turner. “The lab allows us to execute MBSE across all team functions, from mission thread to risk analysis or program management.”

The team maintains physical models for all of the vehicle platforms they support. When a requirement from a sponsor arrives, the team can use tools within the SIL to design and print a three-dimensional piece of hardware and test it on an existing model before they touch a physical vehicle. The team conducts engineering, mechanical and software-related integration testing and design work all within the laboratory.

“It’s all about testing upfront, learning upfront, failing faster and learning from it and moving on and improving on the design,” said Turner.

As the team designs and tests within the lab, they also update the MBSE Tool Suite is to capture lessons learned, integration challenges and real-time project data for all team members to access.

“The beauty of the suite being so integrated is that it doesn’t matter what type of systems engineering methodology a project uses, the tools can be tailored to meet a myriad of engineering processes and organizing the data by methodology saves countless hours in digging around trying to find historical artifacts,” said Witmer.

The team can now complete an integration project that previously took 18 to 36 months as quickly as six to nine months, without sacrificing quality, thanks to the value of MBSE.

With VTT and other teams reaping the benefits of MBSE, NIWC Atlantic created a training and workforce development path to work toward a Command-wide adoption of this method. Communities of interest, industry engagements and training events on MBSE methods are a few of the efforts implemented to date.

The VTT uses these training approaches, to a smaller-scale, to continue to encourage MBSE implementation and help employees understand the power of using a model-based approach to apply agility in executing warfighter solutions.

“We’re seeing the benefits and through MBSE my team has the flexibility to fail fast and learn a lot upfront,” said Turner.

The team’s success with the MBSE Tool Suite is a Command-wide example of how the transparency and connectivity of engineering data help to provide integration solutions to NIWC Atlantic customers with a high confidence of success.

As a part of Naval Information Warfare Systems Command, NIWC Atlantic provides systems engineering and acquisition to deliver information warfare capabilities to the naval, joint and national warfighter through the acquisition, development, integration, production, test, deployment, and sustainment of interoperable command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, cyber and information technology capabilities.

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Charleston, S.C. (June 12, 2019)Ryan Wilhite, Vehicular Technology Transition (VTT) team mechanical engineer, utilizes resources within the Systems Integration Laboratory to design and print three-dimensional parts. The VTT team is part of the Land Systems Integration Division at Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Atlantic. The team incorporates a full range of Model-Based Systems Engineering techniques into their systems engineering projects to support the Marine Corps and has had success in continuing this approach in their daily work. (U.S. Navy photo by Joe Bullinger/Released)
Charleston, S.C. (June 12, 2019)Ryan Wilhite, Vehicular Technology Transition (VTT) team mechanical engineer, utilizes resources within the Systems Integration Laboratory to design and print three-dimensional parts. The VTT team is part of the Land Systems Integration Division at Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Atlantic. The team incorporates a full range of Model-Based Systems Engineering techniques into their systems engineering projects to support the Marine Corps and has had success in continuing this approach in their daily work. (U.S. Navy photo by Joe Bullinger/Released)
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