NIWC Atlantic

NIWC Atlantic

SSC Atlantic Pilot Program Promotes Increased Systems Engineering Discipline

Illustration depicts the ideal state of the Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) environment, which is created by the integration of tools, processes and methodologies, data, and the practitioners who utilize them. Task analysis generates the operational and mission level requirements, which are used to derive the systems baseline and design requirements. The nine key elements of a command center’s design are developed and integrated as part of the MBSE environment. (U.S. Navy illustration by Leah Tuten)

Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SSC) Atlantic recently implemented Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) pilots to more efficiently build command and operations centers, and ultimately influence its long-term MBSE strategy.

As part of the pilots, the command and operations centers division regularly collaborates with mission engineers to develop mission-based analysis and engineering products through a holistic, MBSE approach to understand and improve end-to-end mission requirements and capabilities.

“Mission engineers provide quantitative analysis upfront on how the operations center is going to be used, which enables us to provide technical solutions and technical capability that will better facilitate operations at a more rapid pace,” said Donovan Lusk, command and operations centers division head. “Future projects will use those models so you’re not starting from scratch every time.”

The command and operations centers division partnered with mission engineers to pilot MBSE in a command center redesign for North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, specifically focusing on adjacencies.

Mission engineers assessed the NORAD/NORTHCOM command center’s mission, processes, workflows and current operations to build essential models and model data to determine how best to align the user community to facilitate collaboration and operational dialog within the command center. Engineers used that data to create model diagrams representing structure and behavior that show how information is exchanged, which will inform the layout and design of the command center.

“Understanding the mission of the end-user is a crucial piece of building models and implementing MBSE,” said Leah Tuten, systems engineer and architect. “Stay engaged with your customer. Stay engaged with your stakeholders. They are the experts on what they do and we are the experts on systems engineering and designing command centers. Show them frequently what you have modeled, and make sure your model is your single source of truth.”

Historically, mission-level modeling and system and infrastructure-level modeling have been largely separate and unrelated. With MBSE, the mission model feeds into the overall system and infrastructure model that is used in command center environments.

“Model-Based Systems Engineering involves synchronizing those two different modeling worlds where the people who are making the technical decisions have a much keener knowledge of how those systems are going to be used by the operators and the missions they are supporting,” said Paul Walter, ashore systems engineering competency lead. “That’s the value of the command and operations centers pilot, seeing how we can better integrate those two different modeling domains.”

Other command and operations centers division MBSE pilots include modernizing a command center for U.S. European Command (EUCOM), gathering as-is technical architectures for U.S. 5th Fleet and U.S. 6th Fleet and modeling tasks from Naval Innovative Science and Engineering Maritime Operations Centers projects.

“MBSE is going to help us increase our systems engineering discipline by giving us a common language, a common capability and a common environment to engineer in,” said David Smoak, system of systems engineering lead. “That will improve how we deliver capabilities, how we share requirements and how we actually do engineering.”

SSC 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, communication, computers, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, cyber and information technology capabilities.