Partnership delivers specialized training for Hanscom engineers

  • Published
  • By Jessica Casserly
  • 66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – Twenty Hanscom engineers are participating in a custom-designed digital engineering course at the University of Massachusetts Lowell Research Institute’s Northstar campus in Lincoln, Massachusetts.

The graduate-level pilot program is a partnership between Hanscom Air Force Base, UMass Lowell and the Massachusetts Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force, designed to give Hanscom engineers experience in the use of digital engineering methods, models and strategy. Hanscom participants started the first of four semester-long courses Jan. 18.

Joe Bradley, director of the Cyber Resiliency Office for Weapons Systems, and of Engineering and Technical Management at Hanscom, said programs like this one are essential for workforce development.

“I believe this strategic partnership will prepare our workforce for the digital future,” he said. “The knowledge the participants gain from this new, digital engineering curriculum will enable our engineers to keep current with the technologies and processes in use by our industry partners.”

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr. highlighted the need for digital engineering-focused training opportunities when he met with Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker in February 2021.

“I’m grateful to Governor Baker, the Massachusetts Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force and the University of Massachusetts Lowell for enthusiastically partnering with the Air Force to ensure we continue to accelerate change by making this digital engineering course a reality,” Brown said. “Training opportunities like this are critical so our Airmen stay on the cutting edge of technology.”

Dan Rivera, MassDevelopment president and CEO, said he’s proud of MassDevelopment’s role as the lead agency for the MASS Task Force, which continually assesses and supports the needs of Massachusetts’s military installations.

“Developing this digital engineering course in short order required partnership building and agility,” Rivera said. “Through the efforts of the MASS Task Force and a $180,000 grant from our agency, we made it happen.”

University representatives worked closely with Hanscom personnel to build the program and develop a curriculum that would meet Air Force needs.

“The university views this first course as part of a larger program that will benefit Hanscom personnel and our many regional industry partners,” said Steven Tello, UMass Lowell’s vice provost of Graduate, Online and Professional Studies. “UMass Lowell is serious about its commitment to retaining a state-of-the-art workforce in the commonwealth and this partnership with Hanscom, Mass Development and the Massachusetts Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force reflects this commitment.”

Kavitha Chandra, UMass Lowell’s associate dean of undergraduate affairs, said the initial course is designed to introduce new modeling and simulation tools that participants can use in their day-to-day work.

“Hanscom personnel enrolled in the course are able to bring experiences from their work into group projects, role-play at the different levels of the system’s design stage and address challenges they see for digital transformation,” she said.

When selecting base engineers for the pilot cohort, Hanscom’s chief of Engineering Resources, Ed Lee, said he and his colleagues looked for candidates who could use this knowledge to benefit the Air Force.

“We wanted to make sure we targeted people who are going to be practitioners and not just academics,” he said. “We focused on people who are currently in acquisition engineering positions and doing technical work.”

The cohort meets weekly at the Northstar campus and students are scheduled to complete the first semester-long course, Systems, Models and Simulation for Digital Engineering, in early May.

“The initial pilot is being offered in a classroom setting that includes HyFlex learning technology, allowing Hanscom personnel to ‘attend’ class even when operating remotely or traveling for business,” said Sandhya Balasubramanian, assistant dean, Academic & Corporate Program Development at UMass Lowell. “Our intent is that the digital engineering courses developed for this effort may be applied to a master’s degree or future graduate certificate program.”

Ultimately, the objective is to empower Hanscom engineers with the skills needed to make acquisition systems more efficient and predictable using digital modeling and data sharing.

“We need the students in this pilot course to understand this methodology and share it with their peers,” said Pat Hart, Hanscom’s Engineering recruiter. “The individuals in this cohort are the future leaders of Air Force engineering programs.”