Digital Engineering – A New Era

Digital Engineering – A New Era

June 10, 2021

By Michael Gazarik, Vice President of Engineering
The following article originally appeared in Aerospace & Defense Review.

The Aerospace & Defense (A&D) industry is a rapidly evolving landscape, constantly seeking the latest and greatest technology or capability to propel our industry forward. With digital engineering, we are coming into a new era of engineering. Companies across the industry are embracing full program execution in one digital ecosystem, allowing us to develop new capabilities and bring advanced technologies to market faster than ever before.
Digital engineering is a simple concept: engineering within a digital environment. It becomes more complex when we see it in the working environment. The application of digital engineering is diverse, with different companies and industries implementing it in different ways, on different platforms, and to varying degrees.

In its ideal state, a digital environment enables the infrastructure to integrate the complete concept, development, design, simulation, analysis, build, test, delivery, operation and sustainment of a product or program. The digital environment is a means to integrate tools across functions, allowing for better collaboration and a more comprehensive analysis. The days of out-of-date documents are gone, replaced by real-time information, sophisticated models and measurable data all at our fingertips, allowing for more informed decisions.
When we think about the difference digital engineering can make on a company-by-company basis and even day-to-day engineering tasks, it’s easy to see the benefits. A digital environment enables companies to continually expand capabilities, increase efficiencies and adaptability, and provide better insight for decision-making. 

When we look at digital engineering on a grander scale, partners can collaborate in an interconnected web of digital platforms. The benefits of such a network could be immense. Program costs and product delivery schedules become more competitive, and effective collaboration with customers and partners is enabled. Moreover, digital engineering supports actionable, informed decisions based on easily accessible data. Products meet their requirements by testing them in simulation before needing to build a single piece of hardware. And, the opportunity to reuse and rework designs faster and easier to meet our customer requirements is game changing. 

At Ball, we are continually leveraging and enhancing our resources and capabilities to solve the toughest technology challenges in weather and climate; space science and exploration; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; space control; and tactical systems. As digital engineering continues to take shape, we are embracing the technologies that can support our program and product development for the benefit of our mission partners – be it collaborative partners, primes, subcontractors or customers. With digital engineering, our goal is to deliver advanced technologies to the industry in a more modern, efficient and collaborative way. 

We see the clear benefits that digital engineering will bring to our programs and our partners, whether we’re designing spacecraft, instruments, ground systems or tactical hardware. As we and the A&D industry continue into a new era of engineering, we know that we can achieve incredible things – bringing new technologies to our customers faster and safer than ever before.

We all have an enormous task and responsibility ahead – to use our tools to innovate and bring the best to the market and industry. We’re making an investment in all of us, our capabilities, our business and our future. As we see digital engineering become more prominent in aerospace engineering companies, we look forward to aligning as an industry to be a more productive, agile, and capable workplace.