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‘Hitchhiker’s Guide’ offers parallels to Air Force digital journey

  • Published
  • By Marisa Alia-Novobilski
  • Air Force Materiel Command

A good book can often spur inspiration, even more than 30 years later.

The 1979 classic science fiction comedy, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” by Douglas Adams, provided the inspiration for a recent journal publication exploring the quest to understand the digital engineering realm and its implications for the Air Force future.

Just as Adams’ main character Arthur Dent is forced to find universal understanding after being snatched from Earth moments before ultimate destruction, the move to an integrated digital environment across the Air Force is requiring all to seek new knowledge and understanding of a new ‘galaxy’ of information across all domains.

“The digital galaxy is complex, with a number of tools, applications and models that beckon to be understood as we move into a 21st century service,” said Thomas Lockhart, Director of Engineering and Technical Management at the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center and author of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Digital Engineering Galaxy.” “In addition to obtaining a basic understanding of these concepts, we need to expand our acquisition processes to embrace this new framework while also ensuring a digital cultural change across the service. We’ve only just begun.”

In the publication, Lockhart breaks down the Air Force quest for digital transformation into three main bodies of knowledge:  integration, understanding and cultural change. Key to the continued progress in the digital realm, he states, is continued collaboration with digital pathfinders, academia and industry, where lessons learned from others can act as a springboard for future efforts across the domain.

To learn more about the Air Force move to digital, check out the full text of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Digital Engineering Galaxy” on pages 41-46 of the 2021 issue of the Utah Engineers Journal.  

Additional information on the AFMC Digital Campaign can be found at