This paper is a summary of the plenary presentation. The objectives of the presentation are threefold: a) to discuss conceptual foundations of cognitive computing, b) to demonstrate their impact on intelligent systems design, and c) to present a brief summary of relevant project experiences. An introduction to knowledge-based and cognitive systems, and the explanation of their origins and principles are given. Then, an agent metaphor is introduced as the basis for design of high autonomy, cognitive architectures. Examples of projects from both industry and research laboratories that leverage from the above concepts are discussed. Some recent work that focuses on decision making in complex, information rich environments, multi-agent gaming models, and implementation of symbolic representation techniques in highly flexible, reusable, object-oriented visualization systems is presented.