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AF Chief Scientist visits
Dr. Mica Endsley, chief scientist of the Air Force, speaks with Col. Greg Barnhart, Hanscom's deputy associate director for Engineering, and Garry Gagnon, Battle Management engineering director, during an open discussion Jan. 23. Endsley received program briefings at Hanscom and MIT Lincoln Laboratory, learned about development planning work and visited STARBASE, a DOD-initiative to get youth interested in science, technology, engineering and math during her visit Jan 23-24. (U.S. Air Force photo/Walter Santos)
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AF chief scientist offers insight, highlights Hanscom work

Posted 1/27/2014   Updated 1/27/2014 Email story   Print story

    


by Patty Welsh
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs


1/27/2014 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- The Air Force's chief scientist talked about the unique technological challenges and value of work being done at Hanscom during her visit to the base and neighboring MIT Lincoln Laboratory Jan 23 and 24.

During the course of her visit and in a one-on-one interview, Dr. Mica Endsley was impressed with the type of work done and how it impacts the Air Force. She talked about how planes and satellites are tangible capabilities, but how the integration work done at Hanscom is vitally important.

"Aircraft and satellites produce information, but being able to move and integrate that information to be understandable is an incredible force multiplier," she said. "How we integrate across space, cyber and air is where the future is and you at Hanscom are right in the middle of it."

Endsley highlighted a paradigm shift when it comes to the concept of cyber in warfare, as it's a known tactic adversaries can use. She said that people often think of cyber as what happens at their desks, but noted that it's in the Air Force's satellites, command and control systems, and just about everywhere. From a science and technology perspective, she said cyber defense is now her number one priority.

"We need to ensure the systems we field are cyber resilient, and that it is built into every one of the systems we procure."

A change she encouraged was to use the science base in the acquisition process, especially regarding human systems integration. Over the past few decades the Air Force has gotten away from this, and she highlighted its need.

"HSI can affect the number of errors, the time it takes to do tasks and how good your situation awareness is in order to make decisions," Endsley said. "It's a critical capability that needs to be built into system design and incorporated into the procurement process."

She knows that can be challenging when working with the customer.

"The user frequently either wants a Band-Aid for what they already have or something from a sci-fi movie," she said. "We need to do cognitive task analyses and software prototyping and provide a visualization of what it realistically can be."

Endsley said the Air Force is looking at smart modernization - where projects are more agile to enable them to transfer from the research and development side into the acquisition process more quickly. This includes modular open system architectures where new technologies can rapidly be added or changed out. She also mentioned how total lifecycle costs are being looked at right from the start of a project.

She discussed the development of test platforms for experimentation on programs at low technology readiness levels where the research and development side can involve the users to come and "kick the tires." She sees this as an area where the Life Cycle Management Center can make an impact.

"You can help translate operational requirements into effective detailed technical requirements."

Regarding the workforce here, she mentioned their professionalism and dedication in dealing with the challenging limited fiscal environment, sequester and the government shutdown. Endsley said now that DoD finally has a budget, she is hoping that will lessen the burden for employees and allow them to plan better.

During her visit, Endsley also got the opportunity to see Hanscom's STARBASE program, a DoD-initiative to get youth involved in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math. She said she had a great time interacting with the kids and seeing what they were working on.

"STEM is critically important, so I was glad I got the opportunity to visit STARBASE," Endsley said. "We're not only making sure we support the workforce of today, but we're encouraging the workforce of the next generation."



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