Reference: Fikes, R.; Gruber, T. R.; Iwasaki, Y.; Levy, A.; & Nayak, P. How Things Work Project Overview. Knowledge Systems Laboratory, November, 1991.
Abstract: The rapid change and increasing complexity of technology are major factors affecting our nation's military security and economic health. The development of large defense systems typically spans decades of time, consumes billions of dollars and involves thousands of engineers. The sheer size of these projects implies a highly distributed decision making process, which exacerbates the cost, likelihood of error and time to completion. Moreover, if technologically complex systems are to be effective, they must be supported by sophisticated operations and maintenance systems throughout their useful life times. These problem are exacerbated by the shortage of both intellectual and financial resources. The knowledge and skills of our best engineers are always in short supply, and as we enter the post-cold war 1990's we face budgetary reductions as well. The defense industry is under increasing pressure to "make it cheaper, stronger, lighter, smaller and more reliable. And if it breaks, it must be fixed in a flash by the least qualified."
Full paper available as hqx, ps.