A digital engineering ecosystem is an interconnected infrastructure, digital environment, stakeholder-network, and model-based engineering (MBE) methodology that enables the value exchange of ideas captured in the form of digital artifacts from an authoritative source of truth .
The digital engineering ecosystem uses a digital environment1  to enable rule-based transactions for digital artifacts from an authoritative source of truth2 within a stakeholder-network . It is a collaborative system that enforces the protection of intellectual property, cybersecurity, and security classification of participants’ digital artifacts . With pre-agreed rules and fluidity of transactions, it enables an agile, rapid, and flexible development cycle to field complex systems using the digital engineering3 approach . It has capabilities that span the continuum from concept through disposal . The digital engineering ecosystem includes a robust an information technology (IT) infrastructure, digital environment, and a set of model-based engineering (MBE)4 methods, processes and tools to support the digital engineering goals .
As the Department of Defense (DoD) shifts to a digital engineering approach, it needs authoritative sources of digital artifacts for systems. These systems’ digital artifacts must span both a network of disciplines and the continuum across lifecycle activities from concept through disposal . In order to meet new threats, maintain overmatch, and leverage technology advancements, DoD requires a dynamic digital ecosystem . The need resulted in Science and Technology (S&T) investments across DoD military services and agencies to develop digital ecosystems dedicated to performing engineering operations. This led to the term digital engineering ecosystems. Their digital engineering ecosystem should support the Digital Engineering Strategy’s goal of “establish[ing] a supporting infrastructure and environments to perform activities, collaborate, and communicate across stakeholders .” Thus, DoD aims to evolve collaborative digital engineering ecosystems. Their digital engineering ecosystems should grant access to its complex network of stakeholders involved in all aspects of the engineering military systems. The ideal digital engineering ecosystem allows cyber-protected collaboration between government, industry, and academia.
With a Digital engineering ecosystem, stakeholders have the ability to work collaboratively within and through a digital environment using shared knowledge and resources across the lifecycle. Containerized engineering communities can base heterogeneous digital engineering ecosystems around industries, technology platforms, or knowledge domains to reduce complexity . The engineering community can use its authoritative source of truth to develop, manage, and communicate information about systems from concept through disposal . The core components of the digital engineering ecosystem are as follows:
The engineering community will use digital artifacts produced within, or generated from, the digital engineering ecosystem to produce more innovative ideas. The interchange of digital artifacts provide data for alternative views to visualize, communicate, and deliver data, information, and knowledge to stakeholders . In the digital engineering ecosystem, the primary form of value exchanges are the novel ideas and innovations captured in digital artifacts . That said, the marketplace in related business ecosystems might use monetary value to influence the engineering ecosystem’s value exchange; nevertheless, money is not its primary value. The engineering community appraises the value of a digital artifact by its ability to generate innovations5. To aid the value exchange, the digital environment serves as the means to exchange digital artifacts; while, the authoritative source of truth ensures that valid digital artifacts originate from legitimate sources .
The digital environment is the technological infrastructure that supports the digital engineering ecosystem. There is a variety of digital environments. The digital environment is as set of interconnected information, communication and software technologies. . Again, it is unique set of technologies designed to meet the needs of the community and its stakeholders. These may include one or more of the following: 1) integrated digital environment that integrates database systems and information content to increase sharing . 2) Immersive digital environments with virtual and augmented reality technology that enables interactions between participants . Alternatively, 3) integrated development environments that include a suite of software tools to complete a project or operation .
The digital engineering ecosystem’s stakeholder network includes any entity that has an interest in exchanging digital artifacts related to specific project, program, technical platform, knowledge domain, or industry. It is a closed sharing model for its social network. In this closed sharing model, the community selects the stakeholders. There are several methods for selection to include sponsorship, criteria based, or permissions. The sponsorship closed sharing model allows any current member in good standing to recommend or give the new member access. The criteria based membership involves the new member meeting some standard, criteria, or test before the system gives them access. Finally, the permission base, involves one or more gatekeepers that decide how and if a new member is granted permission to participate. Another aspect of the closed social network model is that parties in a transaction choose to accept information from each other . As such, not all communications and transactions are open to all participants. There is an invitation and reply to engage in any transaction.
The digital engineering ecosystem has some underlying rules-based or expert system technology based that defines, initializes, constrains, and instructs the transactions and interchanges of digital artifacts between the stakeholders . It may use emergent rules based on the behavior of humans using the system. Alternatively, it may use fixed rules established by the system developer. Alternatively, it may be a combination of both. With the advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, Data Science, and High Performance Computing (HPC), emergent rules are the emerging practice .
The Model-based engineering methods includes any type of engineering digital artifacts used to conceive, design, develop, and build an engineered system or product. The methods includes techniques, processes, and tools to develop and analyze the engineering artifacts. The models may be digital artifacts that include 2-dimensional diagrams, 3-dimensional geometrics, or mathematical and physics-based models. The community for a given digital engineering ecosystem will determine the specific types of tools, techniques, and processes it needs to create, offer, request, and exchange digital artifacts for its platform or domain. As previously stated, the digital engineering ecosystems are heterogeneous and thus unique to the needs of its community.
Digital Business Ecosystems, as stated by McKinsey & Company and Gartner, the topic is as follows:
Integrated Digital Environment, as stated by Herbert F. Schantz, the topic is as follows:
Immersive Digital Environment, as stated by Segen’s Medical Dictionary, the topic is as follows:
Digital Environment, as stated on Wikipedia, the topic is as follows:
Integrated Development Environment, as stated by Konsynkis, et. al., the topic is as follows:
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