by Patty Welsh
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs
1/27/2014 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- The
Air Force's chief scientist talked about the unique technological
challenges and value of work being done at Hanscom during her visit to
the base and neighboring MIT Lincoln Laboratory Jan. 23 and 24.
During the course of her visit and in a one-on-one interview, Dr. Mica
Endsley was impressed with the type of work done and how it impacts the
Air Force. She talked about how planes and satellites are tangible
capabilities, but how the integration work done at Hanscom is vitally
"Aircraft and satellites produce information, but being able to move and
integrate that information to be understandable is an incredible force
multiplier," she said. "How we integrate across space, cyber and air is
where the future is, and you at Hanscom are right in the middle of it."
Endsley highlighted a paradigm shift when it comes to the concept of
cyber in warfare, as it's a known tactic adversaries can use. She said
that people often think of cyber as what happens at their desks, but
noted that it's in the Air Force's satellites, command and control
systems, and just about everywhere. From a science and technology
perspective, she said cyber defense is now her number one priority.
"We need to ensure the systems we field are cyber resilient, and that it
is built into every one of the systems we procure," she said.
A change she encouraged was to use the science base in the acquisition
process, especially regarding human systems integration. Over the past
few decades the Air Force has gotten away from this, and she highlighted
"HSI can affect the number of errors, the time it takes to do tasks and
how good your situation awareness is in order to make decisions,"
Endsley said. "It's a critical capability that needs to be built into
system design and incorporated into the procurement process."
She knows that can be challenging when working with the customer.
"The user frequently either wants a Band-Aid for what they already have
or something from a sci-fi movie," she said. "We need to do cognitive
task analyses and software prototyping and provide a visualization of
what it realistically can be."
Endsley said the Air Force is looking at smart modernization -- where
projects are more agile to enable them to transfer from the research and
development side into the acquisition process more quickly. This
includes modular open system architectures where new technologies can
rapidly be added or changed out. She also mentioned how total lifecycle
costs are being looked at right from the start of a project.
She discussed the development of test platforms for experimentation on
programs at low technology readiness levels where the research and
development side can involve the users to come and "kick the tires." She
sees this as an area where the Life Cycle Management Center can make an
"You can help translate operational requirements into effective detailed technical requirements," she said.
During her visit, Endsley also got the opportunity to see Hanscom's
STARBASE program, a Department of Defense initiative to get youth
involved in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math. She
said she had a great time interacting with the kids and seeing what they
were working on.
"STEM is critically important, so I was glad I got the opportunity to
visit STARBASE," Endsley said. "We're not only making sure we support
the workforce of today, but we're encouraging the workforce of the next