8–12 January 2018
Gaylord Palms, Kissimmee, Florida

Aerospace Industry Should Lead the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Posted: 8 January 2018, 6:15 p.m. EST

Speaker: Naguib Attia, vice president, Global University Programs, IBM

by Lawrence Garrett, AIAA web editor

Many challenges need to be overcome to bring to fruition the full benefits of the digital enterprise business model, and there is no sector better-suited for leading this charge than aerospace, Naguib Attia, vice president of Global University Programs at IBM, said Jan. 8 during the “Digital Enterprise Business Models — Their Impact on the Aerospace Industry” session at the 2018 AIAA SciTech Forum in Kissimmee, Florida.

The aerospace and defense sector has traditionally led the world with technological ideas, Attia said, citing the automotive industry as one industry that followed aerospace’s lead. He said the industry must work closely with academia to bring about new ideas.

“Aerospace and defense is made up of complex environments with multiple interconnected groups that must work together,” Attia said.

With revolutionary technologies like the “internet of things,” blockchain, the cloud, 3-D printing and quantum computing, eventually there will be one big ecosystem, Attia explained, warning that industry and academia will need to change their way of thinking.

He cited three key challenges, including innovation, recruiting talent, and transforming the enterprise process and systems to better enable competitiveness. These challenges have created an environment in which data has become the core work for aerospace and defense, Attia said.

“Everything is attached; everything is connected; everything is talking to each other,” he said.

Attia shared his vision of a future single system that will be capable of pinpointing many of today’s common issues while also fixing them and improving quality control.

He noted the primary challenge for academia is making the internet of things not just read-only data to be returned for later analysis, but also “a cognitive system” that helps determine which data to select and which to work with. The debate is between how much technology to put at the endpoint, he said, and “how much of that technology can have some cognitive component.”

Attia advised that today’s research should be focused on what kind of technology and intelligent systems are needed and whether that technology should be implemented at the end endpoint, in the cloud or on a server.

He said aerospace and defense can lead in these areas.

“I think aerospace and defense can come with an optimum solution,” he said.

Attia also said that using sensors and cognitive internet of things in production tooling is key.

Jaiwon Shin delivers remarks at the 2017 AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum in Atlanta.

Naquib Attia, vice president of Global Unversity Programs, IBM, provides remarks on, "“Digital Enterprise Business Models — Their Impact on the Aerospace Industry,” Jan. 8 at the 2018 Science and Technology Forum in Kissimmee, Fla.

“You cannot just cut an engine part; you cannot just make things,” he noted, adding the tooling has to be precisely calibrated to perfection.

“You are working with an industry that cannot accept error,” Attia pointed out. “That’s the beauty about the aerospace industry. There’s no room for error because it is fatal; a plane is not a car.”

Attia suggested sensors and cognitive internet of things can help reduce the risk and said that cognitive internet of things has already broken one barrier — blockchain technology. Attia predicted that blockchain will impact the aerospace industry more than other industries.

Noting the financial sector has already created its own blockchain system, Attia said he thinks the aerospace and defense industry should come up with its own system, with defense on one side and civil on the other.

He said if the system comes to fruition, transparency would exist throughout the entire lifecycle of a product, reducing risk at every stage as well as saving time.

Attia also said quantum computing will be more secure and “the backbone for the digital transformation of the next 10 years.”

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