AFTC Digital Materiel Management Summit displays results; collaborates with DoD

  • Published
  • By Christopher Hereford

The Air Force Test Center hosted its third annual Digital Materiel Management Test & Evaluation Summit in Fall Creek Falls State Park near Arnold Air Force Base in Tennessee, April 23-25. Over 100 members from the test enterprise, DoD and associated industry attended in person, with an additional 130 individuals participating virtually. AFTC speakers presented current efforts, along with representatives from the Department of the Army and the Department of the Navy, including a keynote from Kenneth Senechal, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Developmental Test & Evaluation and Assessment.

"I felt that this was a fantastic event! It was amazing to see how far the AFTC has come with tool and digital environment development," said Senechal.

The summit reported on success under the three goals of the AFTC Digital Modernization Strategy of 2022:

1. Integration with External Partners: Connecting relevant test data and models to and from external organizations via digital tools to inform system design and strategy; and verifying and validating digital models.

2. Digital Engineering for Internal Improvements: Developing, delivering, and sustaining the people, processes, and test capabilities needed to enable the test and evaluation of aerospace systems through the application of digital engineering principles.

3. Data & Analytics: Developing the data and analytics capabilities of the future to capture, distribute, and effectively analyze and engage with large data sets attained from weapon system testing to support informed decision-making.

The summit was a culmination of 30 working groups launched to solve a variety of problems, from improving internal operations through implementing data-centric processes to revolutionizing data infrastructure.                                                                                                                             

"The micro-brief format utilized for this year's summit helped maximize the amount of information that could be shared with participants to increase their knowledge of collaborative efforts to improve infrastructure, platforms, applications, people, and processes to support testing," said John Volk, AFTC chief data officer.

Recognizing the value of working with external partners, several relevant briefings were delivered from the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division on digital twins, the Army Future Long Range Assault Aircraft team on their Model Based Test and Evaluation Master Plan, Johns Hopkins University Advanced Physics Lab on model-based systems engineering test modeling, US Space Force on Embracing the All-Domain Reality, and a digital tools presentation from Dr. Jeremy Werner, chief scientist for the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation.

The 2024 AFTC Digital Materiel Management T&E Summit, hosted and coordinated by Christopher Hereford, AFTC Digital Engineering Lead, Amanda Tierney, AFTC Engineering Directorate Senior Engineer, and John Volk, sought to display results of the Modernization Strategy and define a new execution strategy aligning with Air Force Materiel Command strategic vision. AFMC’s Digital Transformation Office lead civilian, Kyle Hurst, was in attendance and delivered a progress across AFMC briefing.

"It’s impressive to see how our teams have evolved over the past two years since we held our first summit. The test communities have gained significant traction in understanding, embracing, and innovating on these new digital tools. I truly believe these efforts are changing the trajectory of the future of test to a more agile, digital-centric way of approaching test and evaluation," said Tierney.

The summit also leveraged several collaboration sessions with digital polling and interactive collaboration discussions to help solve key challenges and ensure solid inputs for the design of the new AFTC execution strategy.

Dr. Betta Jerome, AFTC technical advisor, also gave a keynote addressing the future of test and evaluation in digital materiel management-based acquisition. Several other key leaders, including Technical Directors from Arnold, Edwards, and Eglin, were in attendance both to show support of their respective teams reporting on progress and to supply input into the future execution strategy.

"We have completed a working level maturation evaluation," said Christopher Hereford, summing up the event. "We didn’t just do it on paper; we did it with real projects, and now we have a grasp on the projects we are going execute in the next two years to prepare us for the next twenty."