VTD holds its first workshop on Tradespace Exploration

September 13, 2012

Story Highlights

  • VTD held an invitation-only workshop on Data-Driven Tradespace Exploration and Analysis on July 17-18
  • The findings from the Tradespace Exploration workshop will feed the Engineered Resilient Systems (ERS) objectives
  • Data-Driven Tradespace Exploration and Analysis, or ERS Tradespace is one of the five key technical thrusts within ERS

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory's Vehicle Technology Directorate (VTD), in collaboration with the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Systems Engineering, held an invitation-only workshop on Data-Driven Tradespace Exploration and Analysis on July 17-18. The workshop included roughly 45 participants from government, industry and academia, and was hosted at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies in Arlington, Va., who also assisted with coordination.

The findings from the Tradespace Exploration workshop will feed the Engineered Resilient Systems (ERS) objectives. ERS is one of the seven Office of the Secretary of Defense Science and Technology priority investment areas for fiscal years 2013-2017. It is an initiative to transform the conventional engineering process, which is unable to account for today's challenges of increasing system complexity, increasing pace of technology development, uncertain political futures, and the global availability of technology to potential competitors.

"The traditional engineering development process is linear, sequential, and slow; information is lost at every step and the number of alternatives are prematurely reduced in an effort to speed the process up," said Eric Spero, VTD's workshop coordinator. "However, in doing this, engineering decisions are made based on incomplete or inaccurate information."

Spero said the result oftentimes is a system with an overdue and insufficient capability that requires costly redesign in order to meet a quickly evolving threat. He indicated that ERS seeks to transform the engineering of complex systems to make them affordable, effective and adaptable in a wide range of operations across many potential alternative futures. The desired end state is improved technology development, engineering and design capabilities, and engineering processes and systems.

Data-Driven Tradespace Exploration and Analysis, or ERS Tradespace is one of the five key technical thrusts within ERS. Elias Rigas, chief of the Vehicle Applied Research Division within VTD, is the ERS lead for this area.

"Over the past nine months, members of the ERS priority steering council have held several internal workshops and spent individual effort in identifying the technology gaps that must be overcome in order to achieve an overall ERS capability," said Rigas. "One of ARL's focus areas has been on identifying gaps in the area of tradespace exploration and analysis. The desire within ERS Tradespace is to enable the creation of more feasible alternatives for trades, earlier in the technology development and design process and keep them open longer."

Rigas said that it is also desired to populate and then search a multi-dimensional tradespace that contains attributes such as performance, cost, risk and effectiveness. He indicated that when the number of alternatives and their attributes are increased over what is currently achievable in the technology and engineering development process, and these are dynamically played out over multiple alternative futures, new methods may be required to search for the most favorable technologies and designs.

During the workshop, a representative from the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for systems engineering provided an overview of the ERS priority area, while Rigas provided an introduction to the ERS tradespace thrust.

The attendees were broken into four teams. Each breakout team was chaired by a leading researcher in the particular area. The teams were provided with guiding questions for discussion by ARL, and were tasked to dig deep to identify specific research obstacles that need to be overcome. The teams were asked to brainstorm, debate and concur on the gaps and needs in tradespace exploration and analysis that were specific to their breakout areas.

Spero said that output from this workshop served as input to a workshop on tradespace and affordability that was hosted the following day by the Systems Engineering Research Center (SERC). The SERC is a university-affiliated research center of the U.S. Department of Defense.

"Whereas the ERS Tradespace focus is broad, the SERC's tradespace interest is in exploring how to better analyze the "ilities" (e.g., affordability, flexibility, reliability, usability and interoperability)," said Spero.

Attendees were also invited to give a three minute "elevator pitch" on their research as a way to introduce their work to other attendees. Topics briefed during the elevator pitches included preferences, perspectives, risk, priorities, visualizing data points, iteration, people-driven, consensus, scale, estimates, complexity, tools, uncertainties and robustness.

"For each of the four breakout areas, we are in the process of summarizing the technology gaps and potential research areas where ERS should focus," said Spero. "The workshop output will provide the ERS priority steering council with the needed methods, processes, theories or capabilities, along with a rationale and a time frame in which they should invest (near, mid, far)."

"In holding this workshop, we intended for government, industry and academia to identify the technology gaps in tradespace exploration and analysis, concur on those gaps, and summarize them into prioritized research statements for Office of the Secretary of Defense and ERS to act on," said Spero.

 

Last Update / Reviewed: September 13, 2012