In Conversation with Jon Friedman, Aerospace & Defense and Automotive Industry Marketing Manager, MathWorks
About Jon Freidman
Dr. Jon Friedman is the Aerospace & Defense and Automotive Industry Marketing Manager at MathWorks, Inc. Jon leads the marketing effort to foster industry adoption of The MathWorks tools and Model-Based Design. Prior to joining The MathWorks, Jon worked at Ford Motor Company where he held positions ranging from software development research to electrical systems product development. Jon holds a B.S.E., M.S.E. and Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering as well as a Masters in Business Administration, all from the University of Michigan
Could you please start with the specifications and requirements of modeling as well as Simulation in the aerospace and defense space. And how do they benefit from products like yours?
Within the aerospace and defense industry, one of the key parts of developing is modeling and simulation. Many of the systems built can’t be prototyped with hardware, so you can’t just build a prototype of a satellite, send it upand see what happens. This is a little different from the automotive market; lots of automotive designs historically are based on older models and are modified it into a newer prototype. In the aerospace and defense industry,modeling and simulation of aircrafts as well as spacecraft’s has always been a core part. Some of the programs that were written such as FORTRAN and then C used big main frame simulators back when I first started in this industry, and we would have to go to a separate room to run our simulation and get our test results. Since the desktop and PC’s took off, the process and power to run significant simulations on PC’s and desktops by aerospace and defense companies have gradually increased. Simulink is an environment for those simulations; itis a platform for Model-Based Design. Within the MBD framework, we can use the model as an executable specification. Traditional aerospace and defense specifications are done innatural language, and the problem with natural language is that it is very colorful but not precise. That’s the key part; models can now serve as a specification. So not only do we see the results of the simulation but we can actually understand the different parts of the system coming together.
Whereas, when designing with hardware, we are always waiting for the hardware to show up or suppose if we are talking about a situation where we need to determine the design boundaries of the system. Designing with simulation allows bringing thedesign space back into a safe margin, allowing the user to explore the bounds of it. Within the last 10-15 years, the same models have been used to explore and generate production codes. Mostly all cars with electronics units have code on it and many of them use MathWorks models.
Lastly, the fourth part of the MBD is doing model based verification and validation. So in a traditional flow, which models a ‘V’ or a waterfall, we do our final testing at the end. So if there is any errorthat is created at the requirement level or at the design level, we cannot find it till the end. Therefore the costs just add up and that adds delay to the programs. Tools like Simulink allowsdoing verification work before we add on at the conception stage. One can do that by authoring test factors inside the environment or using the model to prove properties or performance properties of the systematic design.
So what has MathWorks added to its Indian product portfolio to product simulation in the aerospace and defense market?
When it comes to Simulation, there is couple of things. MathWorks has some specific tools such as the aerospace and defense toolbox. These tools have core pre-built models for engineers. Often aerospace and defense modeling need a 360 degree freedom. MathWorks offers ready-to use built up tools and ones that coordinate transformation when you move onto the 3D spacecalled Croatians, which is easily understandable and allow for work to be programed in.
From an aerospace stand point, there are a lot of critical standards that need to be met. For civil aircrafts, there is DO 178, which is more from a software perspective for aircraft development. There is a part of DO 178 that talks about modeling and there is a supplement for DO called DO 331, basically a supplement for Model Based Design. So MathWorks tools support DO 331 and some of the tools are qualifiable under DO 330. We recently released the Simulink Code Inspector that is specifically designed to be qualifiable code tracker under DO 330.
So the products mentioned above, for the aerospace and defense sector, hold relevance to the Indian market too?
That is one of the reasons why I am here. Recently, NAL published a user case. They actually wanted to study Model Based Design compared to a traditional design flow. So, we took a system for which they had already developed the embedded software for. NAL understood the cost and time spent for developing the software using the traditional design flow.They followed the Model Based Design flow and shared those results with us. So it’s relevant to both domestic market players like NAL and multinationals companies because of its global standard and workflow. Model Based Design also supports the global workflow and distributed development teams like in DRDO labs, where information has to be shared between multiple labs in a graphical and mathematical way.
Did you launch any new products in the aerospace and defense sector?
The Code Inspector is 2 years old and that’s relatively new. MathWorks has 2 releases every year, where we update the products. So we have added new features and capabilities into the Code Inspector which supports the DO 178 which was officially approved by FAA.
Apart from the aerospace and defense industry, what are the other areas where simulation products benefit the researchers?
Simulation can increase the speed of development in the automotive industry. So traditionally in the automotive market, last year models have been modified for the future years. I also worked in the auto industry where we used to take a production vehicle and rewire it so that it looks like a product being developed for 5 years down the road. So it takes a lot of time and money and if you don’t have the hardware it makes it even more difficult. So with simulation you can have virtual prototyping and design exploration. So similarly within the aero industry, we have safety concerns and wide variety of applications from signaling to locomotion to electrification. Modeling and simulation allows them to respond to market needs and changes.
The industrial automated equipment has lot of robotics and animation which can really move forward fast and respond to global parts and products demand. From a MathWorks point of view these models not only generate the C-code but also HDL and PLC code.
Every year MathWorks comes out with an updated release of their product families like 2014a this year. How useful is this update for engineers and customers
We have this release twice a year, the focus is to get new features into those products and fix things which are not working properly. And goal is to respond to the market and get the right amount of content into the product. So this is what we have doing for 9 years for this twice a year release.
For customers, they get new features out quickly and fixes out faster. So as we make this update every 6 months, we upgrade models and provide an upgrade advisor into the modeling package that analyses the model. If there are any known or planned changes to the modeling environment, the upgrade advisor advises the customer accordingly. We have a structured process, where we provide the engineers heads about these changes and advise them on how to upgrade. But the real value lies in getting new features, capabilities and products out much faster in the marketplace to respond to the customer needs. For example in the Code Inspector released 2 years ago, we added advanced features and capabilities to allow for Simulink language to be coveredby the tool, thus shortening the market turnaround time.
What type of new opportunities are you looking for your products in India?
I think India will become a large market for civilian aerospace and defense. Working with local colleagues is helping Indian customers understand how MathWorks, as a global company works with aerospace and defense companies around the world. MathWorks India is a front door into MathWorks global community. Quite often the MathWorks global community addresses several queries from Indian customers. So we are not actually scouting for opportunities for MathWorks, rather supporting MathWorks India in terms of sharing some of the best practices with Indian customers such as NAL and some government labs.