Engineering Directorate helps things run better, cost less

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So what does the Ogden Air Logistic Center's Engineering Directorate staff office actually do? A lot more than is often perceived. The men and women of the EN are working behind the scenes to enable improved processes and policy to support the wing engineering weapon system sustainment efforts. Sometimes the payoff is obvious and immediate, other times it takes multiple years to implement.

The key to success is in partnering with the wings and HQ to address the most pressing issues that challenge our weapon systems today. And, like the rest of the center, EN has the responsibility for our effective stewardship of taxpayers' dollars. Wherever we can improve standards, enhance measures of performance, enable cost savings and achieve increased effectiveness, the EN team is working to do so. We have three divisions to address: Workforce Management/Development, Systems Engineering, and Technical Data Management (recently added to EN as part of the 84th Combat Sustainment Wing reorganization). Many of our members are temporary — they come from the wings' scientist and engineer, S&E, workforce for two- to three-year tours on the staff, bringing experience, valuable insight, great ideas and renewed energy to our mission. In the Tech Data and Workforce Management mission areas, there is a larger number of permanent staff, experts in their particular career fields, providing years of continuity to key EN mission processes.

Great progress continues to be made by our Tech Data team who are dedicated to getting accurate weapon system tech data into the hands of sustainment professionals quickly. The ongoing transition to electronic tech data — when appropriate — is a high priority for the Air Force and will enable more rapid updates and significant cost savings. This means that for our many scientists and engineers within the wings, you will be able to retrieve and view documents from your own desks. No more searching through flat files and endless roles of drawings.

Our workforce development team has been hard at work with the wings to take advantage of increased hiring opportunities, bringing much needed additional S&E manpower to the OO-ALC. Our center has multiple open announcements for engineering positions to support new programs as well as acquiring available expertise on aging aircraft. The workforce development team has also facilitated a mentoring program for S&Es as well as increased professional training opportunities this year. If you're interested in developing yourself for future leadership and technical opportunities, get your S&E Transition-Civilian Development Plan profile updated. This is an excellent opportunity for you to discuss your short- and long-term goals with your supervisor, chain-of-command and mentors.

Additionally, EN is working diligently to make meaningful gains this year with the Center Quality Management System (QMS), Weapon System Integrity Programs (WSIPs), and Air Force Systems Engineering Assessment Model. AF SEAM is a tool based on a software maturity model which helps program managers identify areas for improved systems engineering effectiveness. We have more planned in this area for the coming year as we work to provide meaningful tools for engineers to help manage the many program areas that contribute to this discipline.

And speaking of discipline, I want to emphasize how important it is that our successful engineering processes are repeatable, predictable and measurable. It may sound boring to some, but this is what engineers and scientists strive for and celebrate. You've probably heard that every program has to pay attention and keep in balance three things: cost, schedule and performance. Well, disciplined processes will enable all three — no one should ever fall into the trap of thinking that cutting corners in process discipline will improve any one of these areas in the long-term. In the end, costs will go up, schedule will be delayed, and performance will suffer if process discipline is lacking.

The S&E workforce is charged with conducting analysis and exercising effective judgment to determine system performance risk and to advise decision makers accordingly. The decision makers are charged with making effective investment decisions, but they must have accurate information from all their team members. Too often engineering (even outside the Air Force) second-guesses leadership's decision and thinks they won't spend the money or time to implement engineering recommendations. We all succeed when each of us does the job we're assigned to the best of our ability while enabling others to do the job they are assigned. These interdependencies are deliberate and trade-offs are a natural result — process discipline should never be sacrificed.

Finally, everyone likes to be told their work matters — thank a scientist or engineer today for the important work they do for our nation's defense! And thanks to all here at Hill Air Force Base who serve and sacrifice.