Accelerating Innovation by Transforming into a Digital Engineering Approach

Accelerating Innovation by Transforming into a Digital Engineering Approach

The November 2022 tech talk was presented by Jeff Schwalb and Will Walker


In the past, the Department of Defense has primarily used a document-based approach for all cradle-to-grave systems development. This approach to systems engineering produces tons of artifacts (especially if shared on paper) in the form of a disjointed set of text documents, spreadsheets, diagrams, and presentations that may or may not be configuration managed in a further disjoint set of repositories. Even worse, the artifacts themselves become disjoint, unreliable, and expensive to maintain!

As the systems we design now and into the future gain complexity, the rework necessary when a change occurs will becomes more and more expensive, as engineers need to modify many documents to keep them up to date. Even worse, it becomes more confusing to know which of these document sets has the most up-to-date information. 

Digital engineering provides a method to use tagging and active interdependencies between design models to enable changes to be made in one location that will propagate throughout all other relevant design models. This means that all interconnected models will contain the most up-to-date data at any given moment in time. 

There are advantages and complexities to converting to digital engineering, which will be covered in the presentation.  Digital engineering and Model Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) implementation steps will be outlined, and the future goal of the transformation will be relayed.

About the Presenters

Jeff Schwalb is a computer scientist and has been supporting Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) since 1984. He has over 20 years of experience developing and acquiring real-time embedded software systems for avionics, weapons, and range instrumentation systems. He also began collaborating with the Software Engineering Institute (SEI), learning and applying CMM key practices, becoming a certified Personal Software Process℠ (PSP℠) instructor and then a certified Team Software Process℠ (TSP℠) coach. Over the last 25 years, he has taught and consulted with hundreds of scientists and engineers in various forms of personal engineering processes and has coached dozens of projects in the launch and operations of team project planning and tracking.

In 2017, Jeff connected with the SEI on the establishment of the organization we know today as the Software Excellence Alliance (SEA). Today, Jeff continues to work within the SEA to identify and establish pragmatic, value-added solutions to problems currently affecting the software community. He is currently serving as a member of the SEA Executive Team and as a supporting member of SEA working groups in areas such as Membership, Agile Community Networking, and Knowledge Transfer.

Will Walker is currently a Principal Systems Engineer at Raytheon Intelligence and Space (RI&S) who consults with many RI&S programs to help them implement a digital transformation strategy. At Raytheon, he also teaches classes including an “MBSE Bootcamp” class to Raytheon employees all over the globe. These classes focus on a mixture of architectural design principles, Cameo/MagicDraw software buttonology, SysML/UML language details, and Digital Engineering (DE) principles and objectives.

Will has worked on space, Air Force, Army, and Navy programs during his career on both the government side (NAVSEA) and the contractor side (Raytheon and L3Harris). He has worked on underwater unmanned vehicles, underwater mine warfare systems, drone boats, unmanned aerial vehicles, medium range missiles, radar, and other satellite subsystems. He has his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering and graduate degree in systems engineering. Will enjoys both teaching and consulting for DE and MBSE, and is excited to see how the digital transformation continues for years to come. 

Will happily lives in Dallas TX with his wife and their dog. He goes kiteboarding in his free time and enjoys cooking something new.

Why Is It So Hard to Do Easy Stuff?

Why Is It So Hard to Do Easy Stuff?

The April 2021 tech talk was presented by Gerardo Lopez


Software technology is huge and seems complex, but it really isn’t: every technology is just an enormous bunch of small pieces (each only a few characters long). It is impossible for anyone to understand everything, but successful software implementations can be achieved with a thorough understanding of the “small set of pieces” required to solve a given problem.

To create a good software solution to address a given problem, we first must formulate a good understanding of that problem — specifically, we need to discover the structure of the problem. Good software should model the problem’s structure, thus making it easy to debug and maintain.

Engineering techniques to achieve this were invented many years ago, and many programmers and organizations were successful in applying this knowledge. These engineering techniques are easy to learn, but are not used widely enough by software engineers today.

About the Presenter 

Gerardo Lopez

Gerardo is an entrepreneur, businessman, and software engineer with more than 45 years of experience in transforming software development to well-established software engineering practices in order to achieve top quality and reduce development cost and time.

Gerardo holds a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Tec de Monterrey, and spent two years working for a Master of Arts degree in Computer Sciences at Texas University.

From 1982 through 2000, he founded and grew Softtek, a software development company in Mexico, to become the largest in Latin America. In 2002, he started Towa with the vision to excel in software quality and lead Mexico to become #1 in software quality in the world (“Mexico should achieve in software what the Japanese did in car manufacturing 60 years ago”). Gerardo is currently serving the SEA as leader of the Content Creation working group.