LEXINGTON PARK, Md. – Two decades into the twentieth century, the world has experienced unprecedented digital and technological growth that has changed how we live and work.
Digital Engineering (DE) is one advancement that is changing how we work, and AVIAN is harnessing the power of our team to train and equip engineers with new tools and an expanded knowledge set.
Through a virtual lab and internal Digital Engineering Center of Excellence (DECOE), AVIAN engineers pass and share knowledge that will advance our workforce’s ability to respond to a growing demand for digital engineering.
AVIAN’s virtual Lab trains its engineering workforce using CAMEO Systems Modeler and Teamwork Cloud, and AVIAN developed training modules to practice, understand, and use the SysML language and modeling techniques needed for model-based systems engineering and digital engineering, and collaborative development.
The Lab expands into a Digital Engineering environment that allows practitioners to experiment with open-source and commercial solutions that combine to form a capable DE environment.
The AVIAN Virtual lab is named ‘SLAB,’ which stands for Systems LABoratory.
SLAB lays the foundation for extending and developing AVIAN’s DE capabilities bringing model and environment management, simulation and analysis, and collaboration to a single point and offering organizations a solution that can be implemented with a single line of code.
Since starting the lab in 2020, seventeen engineers from across the organization have participated in the training. Recently, five engineers completed the six-month Lab training and are now pursuing the Level 1 and 2 OSCMP Exams, demonstrating an advanced understanding of creating and interpreting System models.
AVIAN Lab is taught by two senior engineers, Rhett Zimmer, and John DeHart. In a recent interview, both shared their takeaways about the training program and the future of MBSE and DE.
How long have you been practicing MBSE?
Since 2017, with the first exposure in 2014. Undergraduate and graduate exposure to UML [Unified Modeling Language], SysML, IDEF0 [Integration Definition for Process Modelling], ERD [entity relationship diagram], and other modeling notations. As MBSE is only the first step in both the lab and Digital engineering, also relevant is my background in operations research and stochastic and deterministic optimization, simulation, statistics, and programming.
I have been using the current tools since 2017/2018, but I have been practicing MBE/MBSE techniques since the early 90s when I put my first serious computer cluster together to automate the analysis of weapons mission profiles.
What excites you about leading the lab?
The opportunity to not only expose people to the potential capabilities of Digital Engineering, but also the techniques and thought patterns necessary to realize those capabilities.
The SLAB includes a SysMLv2 Pilot Implementation Server, which is great. There is some real opportunity here to push the envelope since SysMLv2 is not really a thing yet; it’s a new way of thinking, especially for the current SE folks using Cameo. SysMLv2 represents a method of modeling more in line with my experience; it’s a second cut at SysML that seems to have caught up to the guys doing this stuff.
This is what is exciting for me… having full control of my simulation environment so that I can push the boundaries of computing, modeling, simulation… solving large-scale problems by myself or with a small team. It's super fun to create the sim, set up a monitoring system, press a button, and then sit back and watch what happens… very fun, especially when it works.
Why is the lab important to AVIAN?
Employees throughout the workforce often have limited exposure to MBSE and Digital Engineering through target-of-opportunity task assignments and have limited formal education. This results in a limited understanding of the far-flung impacts of architectural decisions.
It’s an opportunity for AVIAN to get out in front, present the capabilities of our technical staff, have our own M&S computer system, and support the Navy, DoD, and industry. This helps everyone move faster in a shaped environment that already exists rather than building it from scratch, which is super difficult when you are already doing something super difficult, like designing a weapon system.
How does the lab enhance the DECOE?
By establishing a comprehensive set of training courses in a comprehensive digital environment, beyond just the descriptive modeling tools, we can not only teach our employees to develop comprehensive and consistent models but also integrate those models with the rest of the digital environment and enable the digital twin.
It’s a training and learning platform for our engineering team just as much as for our customers.
What is your vision for the lab in 2023 and 2024?
Developing and scoping specific sets of training and the necessary environment to target specific employee roles. DE and MBSE are complex with wide-ranging consequences. By focusing the training courses on the role/archetype and enabling active learning and prototyping within a supportive SLAB, these consequences will be both achievable and positive.
Develop a secure, open-source, cloud-based platform to support Digital Engineering, Mission Engineering, Model-Based Engineering, Systems Engineering, and e-Learning. Fully cloud-based, scalable, and customizable, this platform will grow into a pathfinding tool that can be implemented with low overhead to meet the needs of a variety of client industries.
SLAB goals are to provide an “off the shelf” 80% DE solution already tested and in service, easily reproducible, scalable, and just works.
What is your favorite part about digital engineering/being a modeler?
Using the power of a model to enable the operational user/stakeholder to identify issues and required design decisions far earlier and more often than previously capable, not through my passthrough between the model and the stakeholder, but through their own understanding, fostered and encouraged through model-based collaboration.
How does this training benefit our customers (current and future)
Digital models can enable the early identification and rectification of issues during design, especially with respect to interfacing at every level of system decomposition, potentially reducing customer cost and schedule overruns.
Focused training, a comprehensive understanding of the underlying principles, and an available prototyping ecosystem remove the need for caveats like can and potentially.
Training in MBSE, SysML, digital environments, and modeling and simulation can result in cost savings, better performance, and reduced risks for clients, including the Navy. This training facilitates the design of more complex systems, the adoption of new digital technologies and processes, and an improved understanding of system behavior. At AVIAN, we implement our own practices at a professional level showcasing how our training can enhance efficiency, effectiveness, and safety and improve outcomes for our clients. To learn more about AVIAN’s Systems Engineering, MBSE, and DE capabilities, please visit: www.avian.com/de
Listen ⬇ as our experts talk about the future of MBSE.
AVIAN (*ae-v-yin*) is an employee-owned business with over 350 employees and annual revenue exceeding $68 million. Headquartered in Lexington Park, Maryland, the company provides communication strategy and graphic design solutions; engineering design and systems engineering; test and evaluation of manned and unmanned aerial, surface, and subsurface systems; program, financial, and logistics management; workforce development and training; to 80 government and commercial clients across the United States.
Founded by two U.S. military test pilots in 2005, AVIAN has consistently grown over the past 17 years and has been recognized by Inc. Magazine as one of America’s fastest-growing private companies for 10 consecutive years, as well as one of the nation’s Best Places to Work.