The U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) is now part of the Army Battle Lab Collaborative Simulation Environment (BLCSE), a closed restricted network that connects a variety of organizations and enables experimentation, prototyping and collaboration. Managed by the Army Futures Command, the BLCSE is in the process of being expanded to include new groups. The ERDC’s designation as a node within the network allows team members to utilize the BLCSE as they plan and execute programs, identify new opportunities to contribute to ongoing initiatives and help inform senior leader decisions.
“The BLCSE node in ERDC-Vicksburg provides a gateway for us to connect with the larger Army community to routinely develop and conduct collaborative, computer-based simulation experiments and analyses,” said Dr. Niki Goerger, ITL special assistant. “Through these experiments and analyses we can help improve systems and product designs, performance and implementation for the Army and joint forces.”
Emphasis on experimentation has been steadily increasing as a means for an integrated and faster approach to capability development. The Army recognized the need for a persistent and distributed experimentation environment that connects the Army centers of excellence and the science and technology community and stood up the Army Persistent Experimentation Network (APEN) initiative. The APEN initiative strives to enable routine experimentation, support risk reduction and inform decisions, as well as provide easy access to performance data, models, simulations and result collection tools. The BLCSE expansion is phase one of the APEN, which is the first Army-wide persistent connection for acceleration of modernization.
“We can now connect to Army battle labs and other science and technology centers to run collaborative experiments, with each site contributing models and simulations as part of a larger wargaming scenario,” said Goerger. “Moreover, being part of the APEN/BLCSE environment provides a means for ERDC-developed tools, models and processes to be discoverable and useable by the broader community. We want to have our apps in the app store so to speak.”
While the intent is to move to a cloud-based capability over time, expansion of the BLCSE was prioritized since several elements were already connected, and it could be readily accomplished in a relatively short period of time. Goerger, along with Institute for Systems Engineering Director Dr. Simon Goerger, participated in the Army’s APEN Initiative – in particular the modeling and simulation and networking working group – which designed and implemented the BLCSE expansion. Being part of the working group allowed the pair to identify and communicate opportunities for ERDC participation.
“We are excited about the initiative and the role ERDC can play in this arena,” said Goerger. “Our node installation occurred in early July and we now have access to a host of additional tools and models and can readily incorporate them into our plans and activities. This is a great addition to ERDC capabilities.”
Being part of the APEN provides the ERDC with opportunities to expand participation in experimentation, collaborate with different parts of the modernization enterprise, gain visibility for ERDC-developed tools and products, shape research and development programs and facilitate transition of products. As an initial excursion, the ERDC will be conducting experiments for a quick turn, limited scope proof of concept in support of immediate use of APEN. Collaborators in this limited scope effort include the ERDC Information Technology Laboratory, the Maneuver Support Battle Lab and the Fort Eustis BLSCSE team.