EMBRACING A CULTURE OF EXPERIMENTATION: WBI STARTS WITH SOFTWARE

04.07.18 01:00 AM By Jennie Hempstead

The Defense Innovation Board (DIB) is an organization set up in 2016 to bring the technological innovation and best practice of Silicon Valley to the U.S. Military. The board consists of a dozen members selected by the chair in consultation with the US Secretary of Defense, including influencers like Astrophysicist Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson. The DIB aims to understand challenges, solutions, and offer recommendations for DoD institutions, including WBI’s partner, the Air Force Research Laboratory. Topics like “workforce capacity, organizational structure and hiring and retention strategies” become workforce development initiatives.

Challenging the status quo takes time and consistency. How can government laboratories begin moving the needle on culture change and satisfy the DIB?

The first step is removing some of the bureaucratic barriers and encouraging experimentation. And WBI is helping AFRL do just that.

Wright Brothers Institute is in the process of developing a “software sandbox”, where AFRL employees can try new applications before going through the formal software approval process. WBI’s Springfield St. location removes several bureaucratic barriers with:

  • Stand-alone computers in the Maker Hub, ideal for testing software, that won’tcompromise DoD networks;

  • Access to a network of potential, non-traditional partners from DoD and theoutside community that may believe a contract is the only way to collaborate;and

  • Demonstrations from industry software developers that would take weeks-to-monthsto organize at a government facility

AFRL employees benefit by:

  • Saving time by quickly determining which software will have the highest impact;

  • Quickly identifying any security gaps before installing on a government system;

  • Learning from outside experts and enhancing their skillset, without additional paperwork; and

  • Bringing best practices back to the lab and sharing their findings with their peers

To begin building evidence-based, outcome-driven experimentation, WBI held events with Google Cloud Services and ANSYS during the second quarter of 2018.

GOOGLE CLOUD SERVICES
On February 12, WBI hosted Sean Maday and Christian Burbach of Google Air Force Services who presented insights on Big Data Analytics, Machine Learning/Artificial Intelligence, Container Technology, and Migration to Cloud Services. The session was attended by 25 AFRL, NASIC and AFLCMC participants. WBI will be working to set up access to some of Google’s tools at WBI for AFRL use. Google is interested in conducting more sessions that are of interest to AFRL.

ANSYS SIMULATION SOFTWARE DEMONSTRATION
As a follow-on to a demonstration made in September of 2017, WBI hosted modeling and simulation experts from ANSYS, a robust M&S software platform, to demonstrate their latest software capability. The March 20th session had over 50 registered participants from AFRL, AFIT, AFLCMC, UDRI, and several AFRL contractors. Sessions were presented on:

  • Instantaneous 3D Simulation

  • Metal Additive Manufacturing

  • Mechanical Simulation

  • Fluids Simulation

  • Electromagnetic Simulation including ANSYS HFSS

ANSYS HFSS simulates 3-D full-wave electromagnetic fields for accurate and rapid design of high frequency and high-speed electronic components. ANSYS also debuted their new release of Discovery Live, an environment providing instantaneous simulation, tightly coupled with direct geometry modeling, to enable interactive design exploration. Supporting common fluids, structural, and thermal simulation applications, it allows engineers to experiment with design ideas and see instant feedback from their changes. https://www.ansys.com/products/3d-design/ansys-discovery-live 11

ANSYS’ simulation software is currently available at WBI for exploration by any AFRL researcher. Researchers simply bring any 3D model of a structure for analysis and Tom Mitchell, WBI Director of the AFRL Maker Hub, will help you bring it into the simulation software. As AFRL researchers look for ways to refresh their skills and provide world-class technology to the warfighter, WBI will be the hub for safe experimentation and the access point for top notch innovation.

Want to read more of our FY18Q2 report? Download it here.