ASK OCE — March 17, 2006 — Vol. 1, Issue 6
Message from the Chief Engineer
By Chris Scolese
NASA is breaking new ground in space exploration. The concepts, technologies, and components being assessed and developed will enable capabilities that are neither fully defined nor even imagined at this time. To fully realize the Exploration vision, NASA's technical community must work from an engineering philosophy and processes that assure the safe, reliable operations necessary for mission success.
The engineering philosophy must be realistic, conservative, and focused on providing deliverables with margin to known requirements. This margin is necessary to accommodate the many unknowns that we must deal with as we develop new systems or travel to new or different locations. It must be grounded in engineering rigor, clinically objective evaluations, and a check-and-balance system that provides a robust independent oversight function. The formality and documentation must be consistent with the mission needs, criticality, and based on the recognition that generations of future engineers and scientists will need to understand the basis for today’s technical work. In addition, our philosophy must be grounded in a commitment to lifelong learning and professional development.
The Office of the Chief Engineer is beginning to codify some of the key aspects that should comprise NASA’s engineering philosophy. We will be gathering additional input from the technical community, with the goal of integrating this input into a formal statement of NASA's engineering philosophy. I encourage your feedback throughout this process.