What we have here is a failure to communicate ( Systems Engineering )

Although the term “Systems Engineering” dates back to the 1940s, and the concept was practiced even earlier than that, there seems to be a growing emphasis on System Engineering, perhaps because Systems have become more complex in recent times.  During my early years of training and practice as an electrical engineer decades ago, I do […]

Although the term “Systems Engineering” dates back to the 1940s, and the concept was practiced even earlier than that, there seems to be a growing emphasis on System Engineering, perhaps because Systems have become more complex in recent times.  During my early years of training and practice as an electrical engineer decades ago, I do not recall hearing or learning much about Systems Engineering, but it seems to have gotten much more well-deserved attention since then.  Feel free to argue these points if you wish, but this has been my observation.

So, what can go wrong if Systems Engineering principles are ignored?  What could possibly go wrong if you have multiple engineers concentrating on their own aspect of the overall design, and no one paying attention to the overall system?    Take a look at this humorous video and see what can happen…

But seriously, though…..

One of the best descriptions of Systems Engineering that I have seen is from INCOSE ( International Council on Systems Engineering ).  It says “Systems engineers are at the heart of creating successful new systems. They are responsible for the system concept, architecture, and design. They analyze and manage complexity and risk. They decide how to measure whether the deployed system actually works as intended. They are responsible for a myriad of other facets of system creation. Systems engineering is the discipline that makes their success possible – their tools, techniques, methods, knowledge, standards, principles, and concepts. The launch of successful systems can invariably be traced to innovative and effective systems engineering.”

So, how can today’s busy and overworked engineer learn more about Systems Engineering?  Or, even if you think you already know everything about Systems Engineering, how can you refresh your knowledge so it is more relevant to the workplace of 2019? 

Applied Technology Institute may have exactly what you are looking for.  ATI recently merged with Honourcode, Inc., and now offers a full line of Systems Engineering courses being taught by original Honourcode instructors, including Eric Honour.

 There is still time to register for our next offering of Applied Systems Engineering, being offered in Columbia, Md starting on September 23, 2019.  This course includes a  hands-on class exercise conducted in small groups. Part A analyzes a system concept and requirements, developing specific test requirements,. Part B creates an effective test program and test procedures for the product system. Part C builds the robotic systems per assembly instructions. Part D implements the test program to evaluate the final robots.  It is a really fun and informative in-class exercise.   Here is a cool video of the System Product built in this class.

Please read more about this opportunity at the following link.

Apollo Trash Talk

Since it has been 50 years since man first stepped on the Moon (Apollo 11), and since we are now winding down from the celebration of the 50th anniversary of that great event, we should remember that there are still physical remnants of that mission, and other missions, which remain on the surface of the […]

Since it has been 50 years since man first stepped on the Moon (Apollo 11), and since we are now winding down from the celebration of the 50th anniversary of that great event, we should remember that there are still physical remnants of that mission, and other missions, which remain on the surface of the moon, and that this landing site, and similar landing sites, have significant historical importance.  In fact, there is an organization called “For All Moonkind, Inc”, which has a stated mission to “protect each of the six human lunar landing and similar sites in outer space as part of our common human heritage.”  Learn more about this organization at https://www.forallmoonkind.org

So, what did mankind leave on the moon, and why did we leave it there?  A full catalog of items left behind can be found at https://history.nasa.gov/FINAL%20Catalogue%20of%20Manmade%20Material%20on%20the%20Moon.pdf    It is a fascinating read, but why was so much left behind?  Some of the things left behind were memorial or tributary items.  Other items were left purely to lighten the load and facilitate the return trip to earth.  And there were items left for scientific experiments.  For experiments, some items were left because engineers are simply hoping to examine them in the future to determine how they have fared after continuous exposure to the elevated radiation levels on the moon.  Other items, however, were part of actual moon experiments which delivered data to earth scientists.   The only remaining Apollo experiment that still returns data to earth after 50 years is NASA’s Lunar Ranging Experiment, LURE.

 The story of LURE is a fascinating one and can be found at https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-history/one-apollo-11-experiment-is-still-going-50-years-later  LURE allows the precise measurement of the distance from the earth to the moon using high power laser on earth, and an array of mirrors, or retroreflectors, on the surface of the moon.  The first mirrors were placed on the moon by Apollo 11, but additional mirrors were placed on the moon by later Apollo missions.  Lunar laser ranging has allowed man to monitor the distance to the moon for the past 50 years, and we have noted that the distance to the moon increases by a very small amount each year.  Additionally, LURE has increased mankind’s fundamental understanding of things like the earth’s rotations, continental drift, and gravity itself.

As it is now 2019, and the world is more waste-conscious than it has ever been, we can only hope that there will be increased attention to reducing the amount we leave on the lunar surface, and in space.  Although some material will certainly be left during upcoming planned lunar landings, we can only hope that it will be done for rational reasons, and in a sensible way.

To learn more about working in Space, consider taking one of the many Space, Satellite, or Aerospace courses offered by ATI.  A complete listing of all ATI courses can be found at https://www.aticourses.com/courses    ATI does not currently offer any Space Archeology classes, but if anyone knows a qualified instructor for this class, we would be happy to talk to them.

Welcome to the US Space Force, ATI is here to support you

There are currently 5 branches of the Armed Forces, namely, Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force,  and the Coast Guard.  However, in light of changing needs and priorities, President Trump issued a new directive in February to establish the US Space Force as the sixth military branch,  which will be within the Department of the Air […]

There are currently 5 branches of the Armed Forces, namely, Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force,  and the Coast Guard.  However, in light of changing needs and priorities, President Trump issued a new directive in February to establish the US Space Force as the sixth military branch,  which will be within the Department of the Air Force. 

This directive can be found at  

https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/text-space-policy-directive-4-establishment-united-states-space-force/

The directive states that “ Although United States space systems have historically maintained a technological advantage over those of our potential adversaries, those potential adversaries are now advancing their space capabilities and actively developing ways to deny our use of space in a crisis or conflict.  It is imperative that the United States adapt its national security organizations, policies, doctrine, and capabilities to deter aggression and protect our interests.”

The directive provides the following priorities for the Space Force:

(a)  Protecting the Nation’s interests in space and the peaceful use of space for all responsible actors, consistent with applicable law, including international law;

(b)  Ensuring unfettered use of space for United States national security purposes, the United States economy, and United States persons, partners, and allies;

(c)  Deterring aggression and defending the Nation,
United States allies, and United States interests from hostile acts in and from space;

(d)  Ensuring that needed space capabilities are integrated and available to all United States Combatant Commands;

(e)  Projecting military power in, from, and to space in support of our Nation’s interests; and

(f)  Developing, maintaining, and improving a community of professionals focused on the national security demands of the space domain.

The directive specifies that Space Force will be lead by a civilian to be known as the Undersecretary of the Air Force for Space, and will be appointed by the President and approved by the Senate.  The directive specifies that a senior military officer ( General or Admiral ) will serve as the Chief of Staff of the Space Force, and will serve as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 

Applied Technology Institute looks forward to providing training to the workforce which will be needed to support the US Space Force. 

A list of all the Space Related Courses offered by ATI can be found at

https://www.aticourses.com/catalog_of_all_ATI_courses.htm#space

 

Specific and upcoming Space-Related Courses include:

Communications Payload Design

Mar 19-22, 2019 Columbia, MD

 Tactical Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance (ISR) System

Mar 25-28, 2019 Columbia, MD

 Space Mission Structures

Apr 16-18, 2019 Littleton, CO

 Vibration Testing of Small Satellites

Apr 30-May 1, 2019 Littleton, CO

 Satellite Communications- Introduction

May 1-3, 2019 Columbia, MD 

If your organization requires Space-Related Training which you do not currently see in our Course Offerings, please give us a call and we will try to accommodate your needs. 

Happy Groundhog Day!

We are halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, also known as, Groundhog day!  If you want to know more about the origins of this tradition, you can find that at the link below, but the story involves bears and badgers, and Germans and Christians, and superstition and science.  You can’t make this […]

We are halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, also known as, Groundhog day!  If you want to know more about the origins of this tradition, you can find that at the link below, but the story involves bears and badgers, and Germans and Christians, and superstition and science.  You can’t make this stuff up, and you can’t tell the story any better than The Old Farmers Almanac.  Check it out at….

https://www.almanac.com/content/groundhog-day-history-meaning-folklore?

It will be a stretch to relate Groundhog day to courses offered by ATI, but we will give it a try.   That pesky groundhog needs to draw on his Remote Sensing abilities in order to have such a wonderful batting average.  If you want to learn more about Remote Sensing, consider one of the Remote Sensing Courses offered by ATi, like perhaps…  Optical & Remote Sensing or Microwave Remote Sensing or Geomatics – GIS, GPS and Remote Sensing or Directions in Space Remote Sensing.

Lastly, and SPOILER ALERT….Spring will be coming early this year.  I can’t wait.

Groundhog Day 2019:The Prediction and Photos

Recall That Curiosity Rover Was Delivered to Mars by an ATLAS Rocket in 2011

There are so many Space Exploration Missions that are on the front page of the papers now, New Horizons for example.  Let us not forget about ongoing missions that are no longer getting as much publicity at they may deserve, JPL Mars Science Lab Curiosity Rover Mission for example.The Curiosity Rover Mission was launched in […]

There are so many Space Exploration Missions that are on the front page of the papers now, New Horizons for example.  Let us not forget about ongoing missions that are no longer getting as much publicity at they may deserve, JPL Mars Science Lab Curiosity Rover Mission for example.

The Curiosity Rover Mission was launched in November 2011 for an 8-month trip to Mars.  Once on Mars, the Curiosity Mission was expected to last 2 years.  Amazingly, the Curiosity Rover Mission is still in progress, and periodic updates on the status of that mission are still being posted at https://mars.nasa.gov/msl/mission/mars-rover-curiosity-mission-updates/

The success of that mission did not start when the Rover started sending back amazing pictures from Mars.  The success of that mission started when the Rocket and Launch Vehicle propelled Rover into Space.    The Atlas V-541 Rocket selected for this mission and built by Boeing Corp and Lockheed Martin Corp.  performed as designed.  If it had not performed as well as it did, the entire mission could have been in jeopardy.  Rockets and Launch Vehicles are truly acritical component of every mission.

ATI is offering a Course on Rocket and Launch Vehicles in Columbia, Maryland from February 11 to 14, 2019.  The course is being taught by Edward Keith, a multi-discipline Launch Vehicle System Engineer, specializing in integration of launch vehicle technology, design, modeling and business strategies.  There is still time to enroll in this class, and you will be finished in time to get home for dinner on Valentine’s day! 

Please consider learning more about this ATI offering, and enroll in the ATI class, by going to https://www.aticourses.com/rockets_launch_vehicles.html

 

Bombers and Subs and Missiles, oh my!

Speaking for myself, I always considered the nuclear triad to include bombers, submarines, and missiles, but, I was wrong. Sandra Erwin points out in her Space News article, we really need to remember that these three components of the triad could not be effective without two other complimentary components, a competent work force to operate […]

Speaking for myself, I always considered the nuclear triad to include bombers, submarines, and missiles, but, I was wrong. Sandra Erwin points out in her Space News article, we really need to remember that these three components of the triad could not be effective without two other complimentary components, a competent work force to operate them, and a modern and reliable Nuclear Command, Control and Communications ( NC3 ) network.

Lt. Gen Jack Weinstein, Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration recently pointed out that nuclear modernization efforts cannot be strictly focused on subs, bombers, and missiles, but must also be concerned about modernizing the NC3 system, causing him to remark “The Triad also means space capability.” The Nuclear Posture Review reported that many of the components of the current NC3 system are antiquated technology which has not been modernized in almost 30 years. 

Sandra Erwin reports that the Air Force does have programs under way to modernize communications and early-warning satellites, but integration of these new systems will be very complex, and highly trained work force will be needed to build the systems.

Interestingly, Lt. Gen Weinstein has confidence in the military’s ability to train their people to operate these systems, but he expresses concern about educating the civilian workforce which will also need to be involved.

Applied Technology Institute (ATI) can play an important role in preparing the workforce which will support the future nuclear Triad since it offers a diverse collection of courses which cover all of the domains where the Triad will need to operate; air, sea, and space. Please consider looking at the current set of course offerings at ATI and consider taking some of our courses to better position yourself to make significant contributions to solving the complex problems associated with Strategic Deterrence in the future.  

 

Wow, just Wow!

Happy 118th Birthday US Submarine Force! Happy 118th Birthday US Submarine Force! Take a look at an inspirational video at https://www.facebook.com/SUBLANT/videos/2214786651871777/  made by COMSUBLANT commemorating this anniversary. My first inclination after watching this video was to join the US Navy and become a submariner. If you want to do that, you can go to the […]

Happy 118th Birthday US Submarine Force!

Happy 118th Birthday US Submarine Force!

Take a look at an inspirational video at https://www.facebook.com/SUBLANT/videos/2214786651871777/  made by COMSUBLANT commemorating this anniversary.

My first inclination after watching this video was to join the US Navy and become a submariner. If you want to do that, you can go to the US Navy homepage.  The Navy is always looking for good people.

Since I am too old to join the Navy, my second inclination was to learn more about Submarines and Submariners. Lucky for me, ATI has just such a course.  You can learn by taking the ATI “Submarines and Submariners Course” taught by two retired Submarine Commanders.  Check out the Submarine Course at https://www.aticourses.com/Submarines_and_Submariners_Introduction.html

Launch Time

In less than a week, on April 16, a SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket will launch NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite ( TESS ), and I will be watching. I am not going to be able to break away from my daily grind to go to Florida for the launch, but I will still have a […]
As a Falcon 9 rocket stands ready for liftoff at the Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A. The rocket will boost a Dragon resupply spacecraft to the International Space Station. Liftoff is scheduled for 5:55 p.m. EDT. On its 11th commercial resupply services mission to the space station, Dragon will bring up 6,000 pounds of supplies, such as the Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer, or NICER, instrument to study the extraordinary physics of neutron stars.
A Falcon 9 rocket stands ready for liftoff at the Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A.

In less than a week, on April 16, a SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket will launch NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite ( TESS ), and I will be watching. I am not going to be able to break away from my daily grind to go to Florida for the launch, but I will still have a really good view of the launch.  My plan it use an App that I recently loaded onto my Iphone.  “Launch 321” is an Augmented Reality (AR ) app created by USA TODAY that will give me a front row seat for the launch.  As explained by US TODAY, this app “fuses traditional Space Coast Rocket Launch coverage with augmented reality.”

April 16 will be my first live launch with “Launch 321”, but I am planning on a pretty spectacular experience.

Don’t wait until launch day to load the app because there lots of features in the App that allow you to learn about pre-launch procedures so that you will be ready to take full advantage of the app on the launch day, and future launch days.

Check back on this blog after April 16 and I will share what the experience was like.

You can read more about the App in the USA Today article.

And, if you want to learn more about Space, Satellite & Aerospace topics, consider taking one of the many courses offered by ATI. A complete list of offerings can be found here.

The Need for Agile in Government

The Need for Agile in Government It’s a balancing act. We all know what we want, capable and effective systems which meet or exceed all requirements, built on smaller budgets and tighter schedules. But, how do we get there? Government work requires using Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System (JCIDS) processes, but that can be […]

The Need for Agile in Government

It’s a balancing act. We all know what we want, capable and effective systems which meet or exceed all requirements, built on smaller budgets and tighter schedules. But, how do we get there?

Government work requires using Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System (JCIDS) processes, but that can be slow and cumbersome.   Non-Government work often uses Agile processes which are typically more streamlined and produce results in more timely manner.   So, are JCIDS and Agile processing diametrically opposed, or are they processes that can be used together in order to take advantage of the benefits of each?

Elbridge Colby, deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy and force development, expressed his frustration recently at the annual Directed Energy Summit, co-sponsored by Booz Allen Hamilton and the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. As reported by Paul McLeary in the Breaking Defense Blog, Mr. Colby said that for the past two decades, Americans have used overpowering might to fight wars, but “the Chinese and the Russians have been working to undermine that model,” Mr. McLeary believes that by spending billions on modernizing their militaries and fielding new technologies like artificial intelligence and hypersonic missiles at a faster clip than the Americans, the two countries have changed the way the United States must approach future conflict.

Mr. McLeary states that Colby underscored the view that Washington has entered an era of “long-term strategic competition” with Moscow and Beijing, and Colby used his remarks to lay down a series of challenges for defense industry types in the audience.

The traditional method of slowly testing and evaluating new technologies for year, or even decades, “ain’t gonna work any more…we need to change,” Colby said. He then went on to say that Chinese and Russian defense officials don’t keep such long development schedules, and the U.S. tech industry has scoffed at working with the Pentagon thanks in part to the cautious, time-consuming schedules so anathema to tech Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. Taking decades to field aircraft like the F-35 or Ford-class carriers might provide long-term stability, but “it doesn’t matter if we’re stronger in the global context if we lose in the Pacific or Europe” tomorrow, Colby warned.

To the defense industry, Colby said bluntly, “we’re not interested in something that’s kind of a whiz-bang thing that’s not connected to a plausible deployment or not nestled within operational concepts. We do want to encourage breakthrough and creative, kind of, activity and investment in technology, but it’s got to be something that we can actually use.”

 So, how do we deliver on the challenges proposed by Mr. Colby. This author believes that the JCIDS process is an effective one, and that it should continue to be used.   In fact, such an assertion is essential because there are no signs that the JCIDS process requirements are going anywhere soon.   We must, however, smartly integrate Agile Processes within the JCIDS methods, so that the JCID timeline can be shortened so that we are producing technology for the fleet that “they can actually use.” 

The U.S. Federal TechFAR Handbook highlights six key reasons why government should adopt agile for IT project management and development. They are as follows.

  1. Improvement in investment manageability and budgetary feasibility
  2. Reduction of overall risk
  3. Frequent delivery of usable capabilities that provide value to customers more rapidly
  4. Increased flexibility
  5. Creation of new opportunities for small businesses
  6. Greater visibility into contractor performance 

To learn more about how you might incorporate Agile Processes into your government projects, consider taking ATI courses found at the following link.