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Air Force SBIR/STTR Funding Supports Big Data Developments to Military Jet Engines

AF Bigdata

With funding provided by the Air Force Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) program, the RJ Lee Group (RJLG) developed the Test Data Aggregation and Analytical System (TDAAS). The TDAAS technology makes vast, disparate archives of scientific and engineering data readily available to drive real-time, knowledgeable decisions. TDAAS locates data in rapid time so that difficult decisions can be made about the design, development, and deployment of defense systems.

Through TDAAS’ continual collection and analysis of massive amounts of data, this technology that benefits technology provides the opportunity to possibly eliminate reengineering costs for military technologies. The system has already proven time-efficient in its ability to locate test data and relative documents in minutes, a process that previously took months to complete.

"With more than 50 years of systems and component test data, Arnold Engineering Development Complex (AEDC) leadership recognized the uniqueness and amount of data and meaningful research at their fingertips. Data on multiple iterations of weapons systems of all types, if data-mined in real-time with ever-improving data algorithms, could lead to significant reductions in the re-engineering costs of current and future weapons programs," said program manager Brandon Hoffman. "This is pure gold in terms of providing better human understanding and decision making for test processes."

The massive amounts of test data at AEDC test facilities spread out across countless unrelated databases made it extremely difficult for engineers to provide accurate and insightful analysis of weapons systems promptly. Improved searching and data correlation capabilities and processes are needed to better identify and discover meaningful information about turbine engine propulsion, the aerodynamics of systems and ordinances, and space systems.

"Every day, scientist, engineers, and analysts have to rely on human memory and are often not able to find the information from a similar test or are unable to trust the prior test result due to a lack of complete documentation, and this leads to them doing new testing and analysis, which increases sustainment costs," Hoffman said. "It is no secret that across the DOD there is a great need to collect, index and link this type of information together in a way that provides meaning to future or derived works as currently the DOD has very limited ability to share, much less discover, data across multiple locations and sources. TDAAS enables the ability to connect to these multiple locations and sources, making all of the information searchable without changing the data's original location or owner."

Dr. Klaus Schug, a chief architect at Arnold AFB, said, "TDAAS has increased the amount of information accessible by allowing individuals to add their own data and analysis results directly into TDAAS for access to all analysts. The potential for the elimination of billions of dollars of re-engineering costs through the application of past lessons learned is one of the best value propositions for the value of AEDC to the DOD."

The success of RJLG’s TDAAS prototype led to additional funding through a Rapid Innovation Fund (RIF) program contract that will further the technology to an operation production system. Once the RIF contract is completed, the acceleration of the TDAAS innovation at AEDC will be able to provide its users with a real-time and comprehensive evaluation of every weapon systems cost, design and performance.

Dr. Edward Kraft, chief technologist and scientist at Arnold AFB, said, "The successful use of RIF funds to fully implement and demonstrate TDAAS at AEDC is a precursor to more expansive applications of the TDAAS capabilities. It will be evaluated as a potential search capability for an Air Force Test Center knowledge management capability under initial development. TDAAS also has potential as a tool for managing technical data in the Air Force Digital Thread in support of the broader Air Force Engineering Knowledge Management system."

The tech success and system capabilities TDAAS demonstrated during the project enabled RJLG to secure additional funding to expand its system technologies to aid the Air Force in creating a 21st Century Digital Thread Infrastructure.

To view the original article about TDAAS and its aid in Air Force R&D, click here.

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