One aspect of collaborative engineering is facilitated through the use of parameter-exchange software. Collaborative design efforts usually require the definition of a set of shared parameters that summarize the current state of design or that affect the overall design of the system. The Global Integrated Design Environment (GLIDE) facilitates easy passing and sharing of parameters between engineers from remote locations. GLIDE uses a common Web-based MySQL server (MySQL AB, Uppsala, Sweden) that is accessed using PHP scripts (the PHP Group). GLIDE’s Web-served database allows secure and controlled access to design data by using firewall-friendly secure-sockets-layer- (SSL-) based user authentication. Data can be queried and published to the GLIDE database via a Microsoft Excel (Microsoft Corporation, Redmond, WA) interface. The training of engineers on GLIDE goes quickly because most users are familiar with Excel. Another benefit of using Excel as an interface is that optimization and other legacy tool integration developments like XLerator (ref. 1) can be used. The following diagram shows the data flow and interfaces that enable parameter exchange within GLIDE.
GLIDE interfaces and data flow.
Long description of figure 1.
GLIDE was originally developed for the In-Space Propulsion program to support multicenter studies for the prioritization of technology-development funds. Recently, GLIDE was used by the NASA Engineering Design Team (NEDT), a 2005 Intramural Call for Proposals (ICP)-awarded project. The team was composed of many NASA centers—including the Ames Research Center, Glenn Research Center, Goddard Space Flight Center, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Johnson Space Center, and Langley Research Center—and the Aerospace Corporation, an industry partner. The NEDT examined possible designs for a 2022 Mars sample return mission. The mission design used several different parameter-exchange solutions, including GLIDE, as well as other collaborative technologies such as Jabber-based text messaging (Jabber, Inc., Denver, CO), encrypted video conferencing, Asterisk-based multichannel voice conferencing, and WebEx screen-sharing software (WebEX Communications, Inc., Santa Clara, CA).
GLIDE was selected and used as the preferred parameter-exchange solution by Ames, Glenn, Goddard, and Johnson. Langley also demonstrated parameter exchange using GLIDE, but Langley’s role within the Mars sample return study did not require parameter exchange. The final diagram shows the infrastructure data flow and protocol used by the NEDT.
NEDT data flow and interfaces.
Long description of figure 2.
GLIDE is written in a compilation of several programming languages, including REALbasic (REAL Software, Inc., Austin, TX), PHP, and Microsoft Visual Basic. GLIDE client installers are available to download for both Microsoft Windows and Macintosh systems (Apple, Cupertino, CA). The GLIDE client software is compatible with Microsoft Excel 2000 or later on Windows systems and with Microsoft Excel X or later on Macintosh systems.
Find out more about this research:
Space Propulsion and Mission Analysis Office: http://trajectory.grc.nasa.gov
Leon P. Gefert, 216–977–7117, Leon.P.Gefert@nasa.gov; and Bob A. Zalewski, 216–433–8014, Robert.A.Zalewski@nasa.gov
RSIS contact: Matt R. Kunkel, 216–433–2535, Matthew.R.Kunkel@nasa.gov
Authors: Leon P. Gefert and Matthew R. Kunkel
Headquarters program office: Exploration Systems
Last updated: October 16, 2006
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