AFTC holds first digital engineering test and evaluation summit

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Christine Del Aguila
  • Air Force Test Center Public Affairs

The Air Force Test Center hosted the first digital engineering Test & Evaluation summit on May 17-19 at the Doolittle Institute near Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. Over 250 members from across the test community attended this hybrid event, including Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Air Combat Command, Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center, Air Force Research Laboratory, and more.

The summit served to share a vision for the future of digital transformation in test and evaluation, discuss challenges, highlight current efforts to expand digital engineering, and bring attendees together to create a collaborative digital modernization strategy to meet the future needs for digital transformation.

“I believe we can use digital engineering to completely overhaul the way we do testing,” said Dr. Eileen Bjorkman, Air Force Test Center Executive Director, and summit chair. “With digital twins, we can start evaluating the system from the moment we have a model of the system.”

The T&E community is shifting the mindset from providing data that supports decision-making to providing a knowledge base as an authoritative source of truth for validating and updating the digital twin in a continuous evaluation process throughout the lifecycle of a system.

“I envision future testing as moving away from the "big bang" tests that we tend to do now and more into a continuous evaluation that delivers better products to the field using a more incremental approach. With each increment, we'll have newly validated models that can be used for additional evaluations and to plan for the next increment,” said Bjorkman.

The vision for a digitally transformed acquisition lifecycle is the existence of a comprehensive virtual environment capable of digitally modeling and massively iterating all aspects of the lifecycle of a system without the shackles of real-world runtime, risk, and cost.

“This vision is only possible if there are real-world data that anchors the models. This real-world data comes from T&E, whether conducted in a pristine laboratory setting or on a complex open-air range,” said Dr. Elisabetta Jerome, 96th Test Wing Technical Director and summit master of ceremonies.

The summit included briefings and panel discussions from leaders within AFTC and the larger Department of the Air Force community, including the Air Force Digital Transformation Office.

“The value of this summit to AFTC was in bringing the DAF T&E communities together to open up our organizational silos and understand each other’s challenges and ideas. The science and engineering community in AFTC is highly technical and innovative, but sometimes our innovative ideas aren’t shared with others outside our center and vice versa. Not only did this summit give everyone a forum to share their great ideas, but it helped to rally those great ideas around a shared vision of digitally transformed T&E,” said Amanda Tierney, AFTC Senior Acquisition Integration Engineer, and summit coordinator.

The summit also included collaborative working groups to address three goals of the digital modernization strategy: digital engineering integration with external partners; digital engineering for internal improvement; and knowledge management- big data analytics.

"The scope of this strategy incorporates efforts for current and long term digital capabilities and activities that not only digitize what currently occurs disparately across the 3 wings, but uses the entire test enterprise, through integrated products and processes, to give programs move value, and push the value-of-test left, via digital tools, " said John Grigaliunas, AFTC Technical Adivisor and digital modernization strategy lead.

The Air Force Test Center Digital Modernization Strategy is scheduled to be completed in June 2022.