E&T – Current Practice
Of course, there are always exceptions and some are notable. However, many Engineers will develop ad-hoc, non-deliverable, testing aids that become abandoned as the project progresses. Such aids are often very good and serve their purpose well. As the project progresses it leaves a trail of such test aids, many of them used to verify that designs meet requirements.
So, given this lack of re-use, how can managers be sure that verification at each stage is consistent with those that have gone before? Notable project exceptions minimise the number of times re-inventions are undertaken.
E&T – Improved Practice
Model Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) and Synthetic Environments (SE) open possibilities to define requirements as functional performance encapsulated in a model of the required system (often called a ‘Digital Twin’). This would allow testing (validation) that the defined requirements are appropriate in meeting the intended needs. Imagine also that the depth of implementation of the digital twin evolves as a project progresses (black-box to white box modelling). It would be possible to interchange, transparently, parts of the model with ‘real’ equipment.
Every stage of development can now use the original test scenarios to verify that the requirements are still being met adequately – or it being obvious when they are not.
Who needs it and who wants it?
Over the past few years, we have been monitoring the propensity of stakeholders to adopt these techniques. Stakeholders include front-line commands, dstl, DE&S as well as industry and academia. There has never been doubt that the concept is a valid and beneficial objective. It’s the infrastructure needed to implement it that has been the perceived issue. That is changing – the MoD seem to be taking seriously the recent ‘get a grip’ message from the Public Accounts Committee. There is currently high-level support, up to Cabinet Office, for funded work to demonstrate the viability of a suitable synthetic environment. Those able support it at a working level are likely to perceive it to be less risky to do so.
The want and need are converging across all stakeholder domains.