“Simply put, MBSE is next-generation engineering. It’s model-based from concept throughout the lifecycle of the system,” says John Silvas, Booz Allen’s lead digital engineer. “The fundamentals of systems engineering remain the same. The difference is, we apply a model-in-the-middle mindset from the start.”
Rather than creating a model as a deliverable along the way, Booz Allen’s systems engineering work prioritizes the creation and continual evolution of a single authoritative relational database that is integrated into the program management office’s greater ecosystem. “That digital thread ensures a single source of truth,” John says.
A Government-Owned Functional Reference Architecture
This digital model serves as a government-owned reference architecture. “The government has a vision of owning its tech stack so it can own its innovation,” says Chief Engineer Leonard Brownlow, who advances the firm’s MBSE work for space projects. “We’re helping bring it to life with a holistic approach that puts DOD in control.”
This unified architecture also allows for easy interoperability with multiple systems that need to interface with it, a foundational capability to further complex capabilities like space domain awareness. It also allows us to adapt our approach for each engagement. This allows us to balance the efficiency and security of a holistic methodology with flexibility for varied program priorities, as well as organizations’ technical maturity relative to the program lifecycle.
“What’s more, we can re-use reference models in future versions,” Leonard adds. “We can give the client a head start on future projects since we’re building on existing functionality and requirements, which can be easily upgraded to support new acquisitions.” Leveraging previous work also lowers costs and security risks.
What doesn’t change is the centrality of the reference model, which ensures an orderly and collaborative process. “The model remains center stage for all decisions,” says John. For example, the model serves as a reference point for:
- Stakeholders overseeing the process from a high-level perspective
- Program managers assessing and directing progress
- Vendors, who are granted “dotted-line” access to elements related to their work
- Analysts performing budget change impacts, technology comparisons, trade studies, etc.
Delivering Plug-and-Play Digital Engineering Tools
Owning the reference architecture is critical, but controlling it is just as essential. “We offer visualization tools via an extensible infrastructure that’s readily deployable. It allows stakeholders to plug-and-play new technology without needing to invest time and money in building the environment themselves,” John explains.
We have extensive experience reengineering proprietary systems, helping DOD break vendor lock via open standards-based solutions. We’ve used this knowledge to create reusable modules and incorporate lessons learned, streamlining processes and speeding schedules.