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The Continuous Engineering Summit in New Orleans is a wrap! It was exciting community event focused on education and knowledge sharing. And we want to offer many thanks to the more than 400 engineering and technical professionals who joined us at The Westin New Orleans Canal Place, in the heart of the French Quarter. Here are the best quotes we heard throughout the three-day conference.
“Watson is good at ‘fast thinking’ and people are good at ‘slow thinking’, but good engineering requires both.”
– Michael Crow, Associate Technical Fellow, The Boeing Company
Michael did a fantastic job of demystifying Watson myths versus reality. Which is to say, he explained what Watson is and isn’t, in black and white terms. You know, like an engineer does. Understanding how Artificial Intelligence works and, more specifically, how it is trained to do a well-defined job properly is key to integrating cognitive sensing and reasoning into the requirements process of systems engineering. Boeing is working with IBM Research to adapt Watson to engineering problems. It is a fresh way to think of how AI can provide augmented intelligence to engineers, where each “brain” plays to its strength and the sum of these parts is greater than the whole. Michael referenced the book Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman to inform the notion of what AI is good for versus the human brain.
“We’ve seen the way Watson and the like are creating connected cars; now we’re looking at connected people.”
– Andrew Hendl, Manager, Kaiser Permanente
Andrew explained how we now see new solutions popping up that sound like science fiction come to life. AI is changing how things talk to each other and provide feedback loops for the people who use them. He asserts that the health care sector is really figuring out how all this is going to work. Few business sectors have more to gain—or lose—from technological developments than health care. When people become better connected and smarter, it will solve some of the biggest health care challenges we face.
“A fighter jet is now almost like a smartphone in that it allows you to install your own apps and use it however you want.”
– Johan Gunnarsson, CTO, Combitech AB/Saab
Model-based systems engineering (MBSE) is changing the way Saab designs and builds fighter aircraft in shorter time frames and with higher quality. It makes simplification possible when dealing with very complex systems.
“Digital Twin is a hot new ’emerging terminology space’, but this is a real thing, and modeling is at the heart of it.”
– Sky Matthews, CTO and Fellow, IBM Watson IoT
There are many types of interesting data that can give value to the end user’s job. Digital Twin can transform the way engineering is done for design, build and operate phases of product and system lifecycles. IBM believes that a digital twin — the digital representation of a physical thing — needs to be able to reason with cognitive sensing and cognitive computing powered for “augmented intelligence” and the digital thread that runs through it.
“There are lots of benefits to Digital Twin, but the biggest one is that we’re seen reduced defects downstream.”
– Julie DeMeester, engineering fellow, Raytheon
Given that many of Raytheon’s products often live in “challenging” situations–namely, in potential or active military combat areas—digital twins and threads enable more efficient monitoring and upgrades, and DeMeester (second from left) detailed these during the conference’s opening panel discussion.
Jule DeMeester (second from left)
“Are you ready to reinvent the world?”
– Chris O’Connor, General Manager, IBM Watson Internet of Things Offerings
The technology industry, and the industries it serves, are largely and rapidly transitioning to entirely different ways of doing business. That’s why Chris stressed that IBM is thinking about where you need to be in four to five years, with a continuous loop around design of connected software-driven things to operational intelligence and insights. A Digital Twin of systems will enable engineering teams and organizations to vastly improve their decision making process.
“If you ask 3 people what the digital twin is, you get 5 answers. If you ask 3 people what the digital thread is, you get 15 answers.”
– Marc Lind, SVP Strategy, Aras
Marc talked about an increasing “context” problem emerging as we undertake connecting things. This is only compounding the complexity of introducing this data into our systems. Aras believes the digital thread represents meaningful relationship connections with context and floating or fixed dependency. He believes we are fast approaching a time where we cannot manage systems complexity without digital twin, and the future without digital twin and digital thread has dangerous ramifications and risks without adding AI.
“NOLA needs an API!”
– John Walicki, Developer Advocate, IBM Watson IoT
… and some data science! New Orleans flooded in August of this year. Predictive maintenance and IoT sensors combined with weather data could have helped with planning and coordination with other agencies to prevent major issues. Engineers now have tools that empower this kind of planning and modeling with data science. John showed a step-by-step way in which he thinks New Orleans water management engineers and planners could measure thresholds, pattern mechanical behaviors and track environmental factors. That would allow them to build models for predictive maintenance schedules and proactive decision making. It could be the perfect way to augment the billions invested in equipment, dirt and facilities with intelligence to prepare for the next flood.
“Some of these requirements documents are treated like their children!”
– Abe Hudson, Prime Contractor, Barrios Technology
The International Space Station (ISS) has been continuously occupied by scientists, astronauts and engineers for over 17 years. Requirements matter … a lot. “Mission critical” is not just a saying. Converting requirement documents from paper and Office file formats to digital models is a process that takes equal parts discipline, ingenuity and culture change to achieve success. Abe and his colleague, Kevin Orr,shared their experience with this monumental transformation task working with the NASA requirements management process for mission and program integration (MAPI) to ensure the ISS has continuous operation and manages different payloads.
Kevin Orr and Abe Hudson
“Whether you’re in government, automotive, aerospace, or any number of other industries, software is where it’s at.”
– Dibbe Edwards, VP Connected Products, IBM Watson IoT
Building a digital twin is a journey. A journey with a road map and partners. Dibbe Edwards invited all engineers present (and those of you reading this) to join the new IBM Digital Twin beta program. Find out more on this website.
Thank you to everyone who joined us in New Orleans! It was a fascinating three days of great thinking, interesting conversations, good music and fantastic food. And if you’re ready to streamline your organization’s operations, we’re ready to help. Visit our site to learn how you can improve productivity with IBM’s Continuous Engineering and IoT solutions.