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AFIT stands up systems engineering center

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFPN) -- Air Force Institute of Technology officials have established a center for systems engineering.

The center will help focus efforts to revitalize systems engineering within the Air Force.

"Many of our current system-acquisition programs are suffering from a lack of attention to or inconsistent application of good systems-engineering principles," said Secretary of the Air Force James G. Roche.

He said the center will "re-focus on these principles and provide the associated education and training for our future workforce."

It will emphasize disciplined system engineering throughout a weapon system's life cycle, as well as improved collaboration with industry, academia, professional societies and other services.

In August, Air Force Materiel Command and AFIT officials convened a forum made up of almost 50 systems engineering experts from across the Department of Defense, academia, industry and professional organizations. Panel members identified shortfalls in the defense industry's systems-engineering community.

The proposed solution included a definition of roles for the center. These roles include advocacy, consultation, education and training, and collaboration with a variety of industry and other government partners to establish the best practices for systems engineering.

Among the many partners in the center, Air Force Materiel Command and Air Force Space Command airmen will play prominent roles as both customers of the education and training programs and suppliers of some of the manpower and resources associated with the center.

"I am excited about the prospects of having a systems-engineering think tank work very closely with AFMC headquarters, its centers and the Air Force Research Lab," said Gen. Lester L. Lyles, AFMC commander. "This is just what we need to bridge the gap between theory, education and practice."

While AFIT's 20-plus years of systems-engineering education and training make it an obvious location for standing up the new center, the functions associated with the professional practice of systems engineering represent a new role for AFIT.

"This is part of a new AFIT," said Gen. Don Cook, commander of Air Education and Training Command, AFIT's parent. "This center will provide a forum for combining the academic expertise at AFIT with the practical experience and real-world problems of our program planners, acquisition program managers and sustainment personnel."

AFIT has recently revised its graduate degree program in systems engineering and has started a new graduate certificate program to address a wider cross section of Air Force people, particularly part-time students who are tasked with performing systems engineering functions as part of their current jobs. Both programs have a renewed focus on addressing war fighter concerns, especially in the area of integrating new capabilities into existing weapon system architectures.

Plans include the development of cross-functional short courses, seminars and workshops, as well as off-campus offerings at key Air Force sites. These offerings will educate the acquisition and sustainment community on how the systems-engineering management process supports decision making, and how it interacts with other acquisition functions throughout the weapon system life cycle, said officials.

Distance-learning options are also being explored along with academic alliances between AFIT and partnering universities that could supplement or provide courses at outlying locations. (Courtesy of AETC News Service)

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