M&S Education for Acquisition and T&E

Principal Investigator

  • Current

032As part of a team of five universities, CMSA has developed classroom and on-line instruction for four courses in the use of modeling and simulation for defense acquisition and leadership.

The use of modeling and simulation (M&S) in defense acquisition and test and evaluation (T&E) is expanding due to the escalating cost of testing and acquiring new military systems and the increasing accuracy and fidelity of models and simulations. In acquisition, combat models are used to establish requirements for new weapons systems and engineering models are used throughout the process of designing and developing new military systems. In T&E, models are used to explore different operational scenarios for a new system to identify critical scenarios for live tests, to supplement live tests with simulated tests in non-critical scenarios, and to create a context or stimulus for live tests.

To expand the M&S knowledge of persons working in acquisition and T&E, a team of universities with significant M&S expertise, led by the Naval Postgraduate School and including the University Alabama in Huntsville’s Center for Modeling, Simulation, and Analysis, has developed a set of university courses that provide comprehensive coverage of this M&S application, and considered as a group, constitute a Master’s degree-level education on the subject.

The development project began (2007) with instructional design. Working with stakeholders representing the components of the education’s target audiences, a set of 42 overarching learning objectives for the curriculum were identified. These objectives specified, at a high level, the topics and concepts the curriculum should cover. The overarching objectives were refined and decomposed into more detailed objectives. The detailed objectives were carefully defined so as to be relevant to the overarching objectives, coherent in content, complementary with the other detailed objectives, and evaluable.

The education audience was divided into sub-audience groups based on specialties (Program Managers, Systems Engineers, and T&E Engineers) and career levels (Basic, Intermediate and Advanced). For each combination of detailed objective and sub-audience a required learning level was identified. The learning level specified how much that sub-audience needed to know about the topic of that detailed learning objective.

The learning objectives were grouped, based on extent and prerequisite background knowledge requirements, into university semester courses, each about 40-45 hours of instruction. Syllabi were developed for each of the courses containing course description, prerequisites, texts, learning objectives, and assignments. The syllabi connected the courses to the instructional design by identifying the content modules and learning objectives to be covered.

After review of the course designs by the stakeholders, and resulting adjustments, a set of sixteen courses was identified for development and universities were selected to develop each course. The courses and their developers were:

  1. M&S Environments; University of Alabama in Huntsville
  2. M&S Data Strategies; University of Alabama in Huntsville
  3. M&S for Test and Evaluation, Introduction; University of Alabama in Huntsville
  4. M&S for Test and Evaluation, Advanced; University of Alabama in Huntsville
  5. M&S in the Acquisition Life Cycle, Introduction; George Mason University
  6. M&S in the Acquisition Life Cycle, Advanced; George Mason University
  7. M&S Strategy and Support Plans; University of California San Diego
  8. M&S in Decision Risk Analysis and Mitigation; University of California San Diego
  9. M&S Requirements and Evaluating Proposals; Old Dominion University
  10. Contracting for M&S; Old Dominion University
  11. Best Practices for M&S; Old Dominion University
  12. Introduction to Engineering M&S Applications; Old Dominion University
  13. Physics-based M&S; Naval Postgraduate School
  14. Basic Engineering Concepts in M&S, Introduction; Naval Postgraduate School
  15. Basic Engineering Concepts in M&S, Advanced; Naval Postgraduate School
  16. Selected Topics in Application of Engineering M&S; Naval Postgraduate School

During the project’s second phase (2008), the universities developed the courses. The course learning objectives and syllabi were carefully reviewed and topic presentation sequences were planned. Source materials, including textbook chapters, research literature, and existing training materials, were identified and mapped to the topics. Course lecture presentation slides were prepared, approximately 600-700 per course. The presentation slides were augmented with extensive instructor notes sufficient to allow someone other than the course developer to teach the course. Developing quality course content is time-consuming; at UAHuntsville, approximately six hours was required to develop the presentation slides and associated notes for each hour of instruction. This effort produced course materials that addressed the topics well and were reusable for future offerings.

Each of the courses, once developed, was taught as a test. The specific format of these “test offerings” varied by course. Though the courses were intended to be university semester courses, some of the test offerings were conducted as short courses, with approximately 32-40 hours of instruction compressed into a single week. Two of the four UAHuntsville test offerings were tested as short courses and two as semester courses. The course materials were enhanced based on the test offering experiences.

The completed courses are the property of the government and are available for instructional use at any qualified educational institution. Several of the partner universities are planning future offerings of the courses. At UAHuntsville, the courses will be integrated into the university’s new M&S graduate degree program, which is anticipated to become available in late 2009 or earlier 2010.