May 6, 2013 -- By Jim Katzaman, MCSC Corporate Communications
If not for the Georgia Tech Research Institute insignia above its entrance, the white clapboard building might pass for another two-story home in Quantico, Va. The sign was the first clue. The giveaway is stepping inside to find a well-equipped, well-connected, state-of-the-art electronic management center.
The facility is a GTRI field office with the management center dedicated to the Marine Corps Systems Command Systems Engineering, Interoperability, Architectures and Technology directorate. Mike O’Neal is the Modeling and Simulation team lead who manages and oversees the operation with Georgia Tech.
“Engineers have asked, ‘Where can we go to do engineering?’” O’Neal said. “This facility is being equipped to meet their needs.”
The GTRI facility was designed to support the use of the advanced Model Based Systems Engineering tools for analysis of alternatives. The prime customer for the facility is the Framework for Assessment of Cost and Technology program, otherwise known as FACT. O’Neal noted that FACT brings new capability to the command reaching far beyond conventional application of modeling and simulation. FACT is built on Systems Modeling Language, which was introduced about eight years ago. It gives decision makers the ability to assess in near real time the concurrent impacts of design changes on the cost, performance and reliability of systems.
The layout is eye-catching. Six 55-inch, high-definition TV screens fill one wall of the conference room. They can show views for multiple sources or work in combination for one theater-like screen. Notes scrawled on another screen can be converted into conventional text on a PDF file for instant collaboration within the room or anywhere on the Internet.
“This is where MCSC can evolve,” O’Neal said. “We just needed the tools to do it. We can explore the technology available to us and eliminate delays through collaborative engineering. This shows how we can avoid having people travel all the time and still have real collaboration through video teleconferencing.”
Today, the facility is heavily used for engineering evaluations and discussions. Weekly FACT meetings are done in a virtual environment, sometimes displaying multiple briefings. For engineers, their designs can leap from staid blueprints onto interactive displays to see how their theoretical plans perform through a lifetime of wear and tear.
O’Neal emphasized the facility is not just for engineers.
“For example, anyone in the command may use the room to plan events or capture lessons learned,” he said. “This is our prototype room. We own it. This is a tool we want all people in the command to take advantage of.”