Design Skills and Prototyping for Defense Systems

Report Number: SYM-AM-15-084

Series: Acquisition Management

Category: Acquisition Workforce

Report Series: Symposium Proceedings

Authors: Gene Warner

Title: Design Skills and Prototyping for Defense Systems

Published: 2015-04-01

Sponsored By: Acquisition Research Program

Status: Published--Unlimited Distribution

Research Type: Other Research Faculty

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Keywords: Proceedings, Wednesday Sessions, Vol. 1, Symposium


The armed forces of the U.S. military owe much of its competitive edge to the sophisticated design skills required to fashion complex integrated defense systems from advanced technologies. This study identifies the critical attributes of successful design team skills and the extent they are maintained through prototyping efforts. Defense system design and article prototyping have been proposed as a strategy to maintain the industrial base design skills while foregoing the expense and production engineering of full-scale system development and deployment. Studies of the design process and historical analyses of defense design are examined to identify the attributes of successful design teams and their skills. The engineering goals of prototyping and full-scale development efforts are discussed. A contrast is made with the skill development from full-scale system design, production, and deployment. The scope of the prototyping efforts is compared to the scope of full-scale system development. Design skills for prototyping and full-scale efforts are then compared, and an assessment is developed on the efficacy of prototyping to maintain necessary design skills. Implications for defense acquisition and engineering are discussed.