Replacement of labor intensive hand lay-up processes with automated techniques has long been sought in the advanced composite community. The process economies demonstrated for automated forming of traditional materials urge consideration of similar approaches for fiber reinforced systems. The inherent coupling of process sequence to architecture imposed by fiber inextensibility has limited implementation, though notable advances have been made in the last two decades. Recent innovations have provided material configurations that allow fiber axis extension during processing while limiting the occurrence of deleterious thinning or fiber spreading deformation modes. Consequently a broader spectrum of component shapes has been opened up for application of automated forming techniques. This paper summarizes recent process development activity focused on providing cost effective process technology for innovative stiffened panel designs. Though the target application is rotary wing aircraft, the developed approaches have broad relevance to efficient structural design, and geometries under consideration may provide alternatives to honeycomb solutions in some structural regimes. A concurrent engineering approach to implementation is presented that illustrates how design evolution and process development activities must be iterative and interactive, while specialized material characterization must inform process parameter selection and manufacturing sequence development.