General Electric and Hitachi
Lead Product Designer
I was brought in by a trusted stakeholder to address the fragmentation in managing the nuclear fuel lifecycle. The existing process was inefficient, with specialists using disparate mini-apps written in Fortran, each linked to different static databases. This fragmentation made it impossible to have a unified understanding of nuclear fuel management from design to end-of-life assessment. Additionally, the impending retirement of a generation of nuclear engineers threatened to leave newer employees with an undocumented and disjointed set of processes.
My primary objective was to modernize the nuclear fuel management process, overcoming the challenges of fragmented systems, retiring knowledge, and the need for a unified platform that could support the entire lifecycle of nuclear fuel. This involved identifying key stakeholders, understanding the entire lifecycle of nuclear fuel, and conceptualizing a solution that could integrate the disparate processes into a cohesive system.
In collaboration with the nuclear engineering team, developers, and executive engineers, I led the initiative to design and implement a Lifecycle Management Dashboard named 'Acumen.' This process involved re-architecting existing mini-apps into modular components that could be personalized by engineers to fit their workspace needs. We developed a roadmap for the project, conducted extensive research, and engaged in a rigorous testing process with key users to validate our approach. Throughout this three-year project, I worked closely with a project management team and a group of 12 developers to ensure the successful execution of our plan.
The implementation of Acumen revolutionized nuclear fuel management within the organization. It facilitated the transition from ASCII to Postscript for government reporting, enabled live data visualization, and enhanced scenario testing capabilities. Acumen was instrumental in reducing human error by over 30% in key scenario tasks and doubled the speed of testing key fuel components. The platform received widespread acceptance among engineers, including senior personnel who became strong advocates for Acumen. Beyond the technical deliverables, I also established a group forum using Wordpress and developed a comprehensive brand identity package, further solidifying Acumen's impact and utility in the nuclear engineering field. Today, Acumen remains a preferred tool for managing the nuclear fuel lifecycle, underscoring the lasting success of the project.