Last December, Anthony “Tony” DiVenti stepped into a new role as the Office of Safety and Mission Assurance (OSMA) Reliability and Maintainability (R&M) technical fellow. DiVenti sought this position because of his passion for R&M and his desire to improve tools, methods and training and hopefully remove barriers that may prevent R&M professionals from performing their jobs in the most effective and efficient manner.
DiVenti has nearly 30 years of experience working in Safety and Mission Assurance (SMA) and previously served the agency as a branch head and assistant director, though he said that his new position is unlike any other he has held.
“This role is much different given the greater degree of influence I have on the agency,” said DiVenti. “There is also much breadth in terms of R&M needs given the diverse portfolio of activities from across the agency. I really have to look at everything in a broader sense and serve as a champion for R&M professionals at a higher level.”
DiVenti is responsible for leading R&M policy development and providing research program oversight, technical direction and support for NASA and its partners. Overall, DiVenti supports R&M professionals at each center so they are able to provide support to their programs, projects and missions.
He works to improve policies, procedures, and guidance; enhance technology and development processes; and address challenges. Depending on the agency’s needs, he will oversee initiatives, develop knowledge in specific areas, or provide funding to centers and projects.
“Fortunately, the higher level view from working at Headquarters gives me a unique perspective because I can see what’s going on at each center,” said DiVenti. “It puts me in a good position to identify common challenges and provides a better opportunity for me to prioritize where we can apply center resources.”
Seeking Guidance From Centers
A month after starting his new position, DiVenti hit the road with the intention of visiting all of the NASA centers and meeting with their R&M engineers and SMA leaders. So far, he has traveled to five centers to learn about the work being done and challenges faced.
“I don’t want to be the driver,” said Diventi. “It’s important that my work is largely driven by the centers and their needs.”
DiVenti depends on the R&M community for feedback and promotes an open door policy. He encourages anyone with ideas or concerns to contact him without hesitation. He created his long- and short-term goals for the program based on what he learned from his trips to the centers.
DiVenti has two long-term goals that he uses as guiding principles for his discipline:
- Ensure the R&M discipline’s ability to meet all OSMA and Mission Directorate needs.
- Establish a foundation to facilitate infusion and integration of R&M and Model-Based Mission Assurance with other development activities.
His short-term goals are the tasks that need to be completed to achieve his long-term goals. They currently include updating R&M community web resources, enhancing virtual webinars, updating policies and procedures, refining risks, managing the Program Project Budget Execution, and collaborating with the Trilateral SMA Conference.
Behind every goal — whether long or short term — lay inevitable challenges. During his trips to the NASA centers, DiVenti learned about individual challenges that the centers were facing.
“I had a sense of the challenges they were seeing, but I only had a limited perspective,” said DiVenti. “I felt to really get a handle, I needed to talk to people doing the work to hear ideas, changes and risks directly from them.”
After visiting several centers, he began noticing certain issues were repeated. One common challenge he heard is the lack of a NASA enterprise framework to develop and share credible heritage R&M information in support of risk-informed decision-making. Currently, R&M professionals feel that there isn’t an efficient way to retrieve or share information among the centers.
To overcome this challenge, DiVenti is working to update policies and guidance and identify or create data sharing vehicles and tools for NASA centers and partners. The agency is reviewing and evaluating third-party databases that contain data logs and anomaly information for every past space mission.
Another common risk DiVenti saw was the growing gap between SMA practices and a rapidly changing development environment. DiVenti sees the changes — the commercialization of the space industry; miniaturization of space components; and use of virtual modeling, data analytics, and advanced statistical methods — and wants to close the gap between advancing technology and NASA methods.
DiVenti plans to overcome these and other risks by identifying major gaps, concerns and upcoming challenges and refreshing the available guidance, training and tools.
“We need to be a learning organization, always looking for ways to improve,” said DiVenti. “Our challenges are always dynamic — the changes in technology and improvements. We never want to be stagnant.”