Description of Capabilities Available for GSA Schedule 70
Southwest Research Institute has extensive experience in engineering specialized systems for information technology (IT) applications. Program capabilities include hardware design, software development, process control/planning, and training. These capabilities, combined with readily available and secure laboratory and testing facilities and highly experienced staff members, allow SwRI to provide a full spectrum of IT professional services which include analyzing IT requirements, designing high-tech solutions, and developing strategies, methods, and media to meet those requirements. Several divisions within SwRI have achieved ISO 9001 or ISO 9002 certification and ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation.
SwRI applies an IT systems engineering process to produce complete solutions for automated data services, network management, data conversion, backup and security services, automated information system design/integration, and computer-aided design/manufacturing (CAD/CAM). SwRI's IT professional services include IT systems research, IT feasibility studies and concept formulations, and embedded software design. IT systems development programs include simulators, simulation models, data acquisition systems, databases, interactive courseware (ICW), virtual environments, distributed systems, process control systems, embedded computer-based training, speech recognition, real-time computer-generated imagery, and operational and security assessment.
SwRI serves government clients worldwide. SwRI is unique in the IT industry for the following reasons.
1. SwRI's technical expertise, drawn from more than 2,973 employees in 11 operational divisions, can be transferred into a variety of technology domains, often reducing the amount of time a customer must spend supplying subject-matter-expertise for IT solutions.
2. SwRI offers a full range of IT capabilities and services ready to meet the needs of both government and commercial clients, with special emphasis on training and simulator system development, embedded system software, specialized information data acquisition and processing, and computer modeling and simulation.
3. Contract fees are not distributed to stockholders but are reinvested in capital improvements and internal research, which leverage the value of SwRI's labor dollar.
4. SwRI maintains independent status and is not committed to any products, markets, universities, or organizations. SwRI provides impartial assessments on training product designs.
5. SwRI retains no proprietary rights to products or data developed under contracts, and we protect third-party information disclosed under proprietary agreements.
The projects described on the following pages are similar to the types of work which can be awarded on GSA Schedule 70.
SIN 132-50 - Training Courses for IT Equipment and Software (FPDS U012)
Interactive Training Technologies
SwRI's expertise in interactive training course development for IT equipment and software is based on more than 20 years of experience in creating cutting-edge solutions to a variety of instructional needs. SwRI has developed a wide variety of high-fidelity PC-based training courses which incorporate IT solutions such as interactive electronic technical manuals, electronic performance support systems, interactive digital multimedia courseware, 3D display and debriefing systems, learning assessment systems, intelligent tutoring systems, and web-based training/testing programs.
Maintenance Training Courses for IT Equipment
Institute scientists and analysts develop a wide range of IT training courses including ICW, structured on-the-job training guides, and training manuals. SwRI's aviation systems experience can be immediately applied to client needs in safety, maintenance, manufacturing technologies and critical skill certification.
Live, Virtual and Constructive Simulation
SwRI develops IT training systems that integrate live, virtual, and constructive simulation environments into a single electronic scenario. SwRI's work focuses on the development of a single computer to simulate many entities without the need for a human operator. SwRI is expanding this concept to include semi-automated forces, where a live entity can control a group of constructive entities, thereby allowing large numbers of enemy forces to be simulated while minimizing the deficiencies of artificial intelligence. SwRI will continue to develop information technologies to allow live and virtual forces to be seamlessly integrated into a single scenario.
Information Technologies for Enhancing Human Performance
Along with hardware-related technologies, SwRI is developing information technologies and instructional strategies aimed at enhancing learning and performance. SwRI's work in this area includes the design and implementation of theories from instructional and cognitive science. SwRI's recent work has shown that the close matching of a student's learning style, interests, and ability positively affect retention and transfer. SwRI's continuing efforts will include research into additional factors for enhancing human performance and long-term retention. Techniques such as modeling, team building, visualization, and intelligent tutoring will continue to be researched. New research in human factors will also be considered.
SIN 132-51 - Information Technology Professional Services (FPDS 302, IT Systems Development Services)
SwRI provides complete system engineering services including requirements generation, system design, implementation, testing, installation, training, and documentation. SwRI's Software Engineering Department utilizes a rigorous development methodology that is steeped in traditional Software Engineering practices. The methodology provides a foundation for developing projects in a controlled fashion within a predictable budget and schedule. Several SwRI program areas in the IT Systems Development area are described below.
Deployable Information Technology
One of the concerns expressed by the Armed Forces is the challenge of having to send their service members away from their units to satisfy education and training requirements. The accelerating pace of technological change in weapons systems further complicates this challenge. Traditional simulators typically represent only one type of aircraft or weapon system platform and moving those simulators from place to place is expensive. SwRI has a strategic goal to develop reconfigurable and deployable training solutions. SwRI is designing deployable training devices that can represent many different aircraft/weapon systems. The focus of SwRI's future research efforts will include investigating methodologies aimed at overcoming the primary obstacles to the development of deployable systems, namely independent systems, proprietary processes, and lack of interoperability.
Embedded or “strap-on systems” provide realistic training within the confines of units. Embedded training is a concept that, like ADL, involves a number of discrete information technologies. SwRI will be developing various embedded IT training technologies and integrating current technologies into tactical systems. SwRI's work in embedded technologies for initial, sustainment, and tactical training will bring the power of IT training technologies to the mainstay of unit training, namely, the Squad Leader or Crew Commander. Ultimately, networking of embedded systems will permit crews to interact with others as required in an actual tactical scenario. We expect that embedded training, like distributed training, will dramatically change the way the Armed Forces are organized to train.
302 Systems Development
SwRI provides complete system engineering services including requirements generation, system design, implementation, testing, installation, training, and documentation. The Software Engineering Department utilizes a rigorous development methodology that is steeped in traditional Software Engineering practices. The methodology provides a foundation for developing projects in a controlled fashion in with a predictable budget and schedule.
302 Medical Information Technology
The Theater Medical Information Program (TMIP) system provides medical computer automation and data acquisition in the theater (deployed) medical environment. Functionally, the TMIP system provides automation services for the forward medical echelons including in-patient and out-patient care, localized medical data storage, and movement of localized data to a central repository. The goal of TMIP is to provide a global capability linking information databases and integration centers that are accessible to the warfighter anywhere, anytime, in any mission. The TMIP system is based on the use of standard networks, protocols, distributed computing architectures, formats and components. Additional (detailed) information on this program is included in the background and experience section of this proposal.
302 Computer-Assisted Training Exercises
The Department of Defense is constantly conducting large-scale, computer-assisted exercises to explore new tactics, validate concepts, test new weapons, and provide training. Because it is impractical to provide the hundreds or thousands of assets required to conduct a realistic exercise, computer simulation is used to represent the majority of the activity present in an exercise. For the Joint Information Operations Center, the Institute is continuing to develop enhancements for the Joint Operations Information Simulation (JOISIM) and the Joint Ground Game Simulation (JGG). These models provide intelligence, Information Warfare, and ground forces simulation for the national confederation of war game models. The models developed by the Institute are in use worldwide for support of major computer-assisted exercises.
SwRI has been developing and testing virtual reality (VR) information technologies since 1993. SwRI's strategic plan for VR includes implementing a mixed-reality simulation technique that overcomes the poor haptics often associated with virtual environment simulations by allowing the seamless integration of real world objects into the virtual environment. SwRI will be expanding our VR work to include the development of the types of sensors required to link the senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. Ultimately, information technologies will provide the capability for total immersion of the individual combatant in a virtual battle where he can hone his skills against computer-generated, intelligent soldiers who mimic the cultural, ethical, doctrinal, and fighting characteristic of a hostile force.
Two VR IT projects, the Video See-Through Helmet Mounted Display (VSTHMD) and the Locomotion Input Device Pressure Mat are briefly described below.
Video See-Through Helmet Mounted Display (VSTHMD)
The VSTHMD is a novel approach that utilizes a commercial HMD modified with a miniature color camera. By applying chroma-keying, a technique commonly applied in the broadcast industry to mix multiple image sources into a single resultant image, the user can view both a computer-generated background environment as well as real foreground objects.
Locomotion Input Device Pressure Mat
The Pressure Mat will allow a simulator user to navigate/traverse a virtual environment (VE) using much the same motions as in the real world; e.g., walking, running, or crawling. The device will return the amount of pressure applied to several fixed points on the mat. In addition, SwRI is developing a visualization technique so that the pressure patterns output by the pressure mat are human-readable.
SIN 132-51 - Information Technology Professional Services (FPDS 306 - IT Systems Analysis Services)
SwRI has extensive experience performing IT Systems Analyses. SwRI works closely with clients to identify the system and functional requirements, and develop detailed specifications for the solution. SwRI captures requirements in documents that are reviewed with the client before design and implementation are initiated. Several SwRI program areas in IT Systems Analysis are described below.
Effective training courses for IT equipment and software are based on the systematic definition of learning objectives and an understanding of the capabilities of the target audience. SwRI implements the Instructional Systems Development (ISD) process which begins with an analysis of training needs/requirements which is used to determine guide instructional strategies and assist the client in selecting the appropriate IT solution.
308 Transportation Information Analysis
SwRI has been designing, deploying, integrating, and maintaining information technologies in the intelligent transportation system (ITS) area for over seven years. A number of organizations have already deployed various ITSs and the current trend is to both integrate and upgrade (system capability) at the same time. SwRI engineers and scientists have the background and capability to analyze existing systems and develop strategies and the hardware and software necessary to create an integrated environment. Additional (detailed) information on this program is included in the background and experience section of this proposal.
SIN 132-51 - Information Technology Professional Services (FPDS 307 - Automated Information Systems Design and Integration Services)
Simulation Systems Engineering and Integration
SwRI's expertise in simulation systems integration includes the development of maintenance/part task trainers and simulators, range instrumentation systems and the re-engineering and upgrade of weapon systems training devices. Work efforts also include the development of instructor and simulation authoring environments and embedded training solutions.
Web-Based/Web-Enabled Tool Processes
Using Internal Research and Development (IR&D) funds, SwRI has developed two web-based tools based on IT technology—the Courseware Automated Support System (CASS) and the Media Selection Model. Each tool is described below.
Courseware Automated Support System
Recognizing a need to automate those aspects of the ICW development process that would result in decreased development time, increased quality, increased configuration control, improved client review processes, and increased management oversight, the TS&S Department developed a Web-based system for ICW production and management. CASS consists of an electronic storyboard tool, a media production tool, and a project management tool. These tools allow designers to specify media elements and instructional flow, browse a database to find existing media elements, and receive review comments for updates; reviewers to review and sign-off on lessons at varying stages of development; media print reports specifying media elements to be produced; and managers to review ongoing work and reports summarizing progress.
Media Selection Model
SwRI has developed an automated media selection model, which is currently available on the World Wide Web at http://www.swri.org (search by keyword “media”). The media selection model was developed to assist instructional designers and training managers in choosing appropriate delivery media to meet identified training needs. The model is based on three key elements—type of learning (what you are training), type of student (whom you are training), and resources and other factors (how much time and money you have and who is available to develop the product). The model is an IT-based performance support tool that aids the designer during the media selection process. The IT media that can be selected by the model are embedded ICW, electronic performance support systems, distributed interactive simulation, virtual reality, full-fidelity simulation, and the Internet. The model also can select various lower-technology media such as video teleconferencing, print-based materials, classroom instruction, and videotapes.
SIN 132-51 - Information Technology Professional Services (FPDS 308 - Programming Services)
SwRI Software Engineering Practices
The Software Capability Maturity Model (CMM), developed by Carnegie Melon University's Software Engineering Institute, has become the de facto standard for assessing and improving software processes. In early 1992, SwRI's Software Engineering Department recognized the value of the CMM and began to incorporate the Model's key practices into the Department's software development efforts. In the last eight years, software processes at SwRI have improved significantly through the adaptation of more mature, well-defined, and quality-focused processes in delivering software to our customers. SwRI established a Software Process Improvement Working Group (SPIWG), responsible for the development of a Software Process Improvement Plan and Software Development Procedures. At this time, this program is in full implementation within SwRI's Software Engineering Department.
SwRI has extensive experience in a number of computer languages including C/C++ and Java. Due to the experience and diversity of the SwRI software development staff, we have experience in most computer languages that have been used over the last 20 years (including FORTRAN, COBOL, Ada, Lisp, etc.). SwRI's Software Engineering Department development methodology assures the customer that a system is “engineered” before software implementation occurs.
SIN 132-51 - Information Technology Professional Services (FPDS 310 - IT Backup and Security Services)
SwRI has designed backup and security systems for several customers. During the development of these systems, SwRI investigates how a system is to be used and what type of data is contained within the system. Based on this investigation, SwRI provides cost-effective and achievable plans for implementing backup and security systems.
SIN 132-51 - Information Technology Professional Services (FPDS 313 - CAD/CAM Services)
SwRI has a comprehensive suite of software tools for both computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) applications that are used to support SwRI's IT system design efforts. These tools are used in the various stages of the system design and development process, such as concept development, concept evaluation, concept selection, concept modeling, facility layout, process modeling and evaluation, robotic path planning, environmental analysis, stress analysis and process animation. The following CAD/CAM tools are representative of the types of tools we use to support different IT design efforts.
· AutoCad, SolidWorks, and ProEngineer are used for concept development, hardware design, solid modeling, process animation and facility layout.
· VSA is used for Automated Tolerance Analysis.
· Decision Plus is used for concept evaluation and selection.
· WITNESS is used for manufacturing process planning and modeling.
· ALGOR is used for environmental and stress analysis.
· SILMA is used for robotic path planning.
SIN 132-51 - Information Technology Professional Services (FPDS D316, IT Network Management Services)
IT-Based Distributed Learning Technology
SwRI develops web-based (online) courses, ICW, simulations and performance support systems; and applies advanced distance learning (ADL) technologies to establish effective learning environments for “on-demand” training. SwRI is currently investigating how to harness the power of the Internet and other virtual or private wide-area networks (WANs) to deliver high-quality learning. SwRI's work efforts include integrating intelligent tutors, distributed subject matter experts, real-time in-depth learning management, and a diverse array of support tools to ensure a responsive, high-quality “learner-centered” system. In some instances, SwRI's work in this area will integrate, expand upon, and complement legacy delivery systems. SwRI's ADL initiatives will focus on products designed to enable shareable, durable, and reusable instructional objects. ADL products developed for the Defense Department will be SCORM-compliant. In short, SwRI's strategy is to pursue emerging network-based technologies; develop tools that will enable reuse and interoperability of learning content; lower development costs; and enhance performance with next-generation learning technologies. SwRI's strategy is designed to deliver efficient and effective high-quality learning continuously to Department of Defense and corporate personnel anytime anywhere.
SwRI is developing Distributed Simulations, where all types of training are linked into the same network. SwRI is developing information technologies that will permit the wide-scale integration of various simulation systems and live training without regard to geographical constraints. SwRI will be working with digital/optical storage technologies and the development of satellite relays that will provide an electronic linkage of simulations and live exercises. This linkage will provide the foundation for even larger scale simulations involving joint and combined exercises.
Project efforts include working with the Armed Forces to refine methods and information technologies with regard to training individuals, staffs, command elements, joint forces, and coalition forces in mission planning and mission rehearsal. SwRI will be integrating various IT simulation technologies to provide unit commanders the ability to rehearse and refine mission scenarios in a synthetic environment prior to deployment. The ADL solution will allow tactical options to be assessed, evaluated for relative effectiveness, and refined, thus increasing the likelihood of success on the battlefield.