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Lifecycle Cost Modeling Tools for Elements of a Digital Engineering Ecosystem



OBJECTIVE: Develop methodologies for modeling the lifecycle cost of different Digital Engineering ecosystem configuration options, including IT/network infrastructure, software tools, data warehousing, data management, user interfaces, and associated CONOPS. 

DESCRIPTION: Digital Engineering (DE), Digital Systems Model (DSM), Digital Thread (DT), and Digital Twin (DTw) are emerging concepts within the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the U.S. Air Force (USAF) to improve the acquisition, management, and engineering of defense systems throughout their lifecycles. These four concepts are interrelated and involve an emphasis on the use of digital data and models. Bringing these concepts to fruition requires an ecosystem linking analysis tools, data, and personnel through the use of IT/network infrastructure; document, data, and model management; and digital workflows. Many different USAF organizations will be involved in providing elements of the ecosystem and exercising elements of DE. Furthermore, there are many options for building the ecosystem and providing DE capability. While specific stakeholders have the ability to estimate costs for certain pieces of the ecosystem, there is no capability to assess costs at an enterprise level or to assess costs for different ecosystem configuration and CONOPS options. Therefore, the goal of this project is to create a capability to estimate costs of specific ecosystem configurations and CONOPS on a stakeholder-by-stakeholder basis and to compare and contrast options for strategic cross-organization discussions. One example of an element of the DE ecosystem is Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) capability for managing product lifecycle information. There are a number of options for providing PLM capability to a given System Program Office (SPO), and each SPO will have different requirements for PLM based on lifecycle strategy, current lifecycle stage, and availability of PLM data. A methodology to identify the options for meeting each SPO's requirement and comparing the cost and capability implications of each option for the SPO and enterprise stakeholders is desired. The solution developed will result in tangible delivery of a computer-based tool to develop estimates of lifecycle cost for each of the stakeholders involved in providing Digital Engineering capability to the USAF based upon presumed configurations/CONOPS. The tool may consist of any of several types of computer-based tools, including an executable windows-based software package, a web-browser-based tool, or a plug-in or module that runs inside a widely available commercial software package. 

PHASE I: Identify existing DoD IT capabilities which may contribute to the desired DE capability; identify associated stakeholders/cost centers. Identify capability gaps and options to deliver desired capability tailored by SPO. Define specific use cases to appropriately scope the effort in Phase I and demonstrate the ability to integrate disparate DE ecosystem elements into a tailored cost model. 

PHASE II: Develop, prototype, validate and demonstrate the proposed DE ecosystem lifecycle cost modeling tool. Demonstrate the system using a predetermined list of DE capability gaps and SPOs from Phase I. 

PHASE III: As Digital Engineering becomes more widespread, the technology developed in Phase I and demonstrated in Phase II will be used by government and industry to determine their respective cost effective Digital Engineering ecosystems. 


1: "An Element of Digital Engineering Practice in Systems Acquisition," Robert A. Gold, 19th Annual NDIA Systems Engineering Conference, Springfield, VA, Oct 26, 2016.

2: - Digital Engineering Initiative Homepage, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Systems Engineering (accessed on Feb 13, 2017).

3:  "Digital Thread and Twin for Systems Engineering: Requirements to Design." Zweber, J. V., Kolonay, R. M., Kobryn, P., and Tuegel, E. J., 55th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting (p. 0875) (2017).

4:  "Digital Thread and Twin for Systems Engineering: Design to Retirement." Tuegel, E. J., Kobryn, P., Zweber, J. V., and Kolonay, R. M., 55th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting (p. 0876) (2017).


KEYWORDS: Digital Engineering, Digital Thread, Lifecycle Cost, Product Lifecycle Information 

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