If you’re a regular reader of this blog, then you probably know a lot of about the areas that DISTek works within. Our expertise ranges across the off-highway vehicle industry (including agriculture, construction, and forestry) with engineers that specialize in a variety of disciplines. Out of convenience, we typically group these disciplines into three big areas (“embedded software”, “automation and test”, and “modeling and simulation”), but the reality is that we do all kinds of projects that cross-over between these disciplines.
This year’s theme focused on “Engineering Leadership – Changing, Guiding, Influencing”. I had the opportunity to sit in on several technical sessions that included some of the top panelists from across the country. The list included Deere & Company, Case New Holland, Caterpillar, Inc., Eaton and a variety of university professors.
One of the common topics I came across was how to address the increasingly complex and volatile landscape of vehicle products and control systems. How today’s engineers, across all organizations, need to develop strong adaptive thinking abilities and problem solving skills for their customers.
Recently I was provided the opportunity to work with someone who utilized Simulink to create plant models for our customer. My experience and knowledge about Simulink and modeling was non-existent. I have heard of Simulink and seen some models, but for the most part, I am Simulink illiterate. This made my initial conversations with my co-worker an endless session of learning. It was all new to me. Add into the equation that his goal was to create a plant model; I was even more overwhelmed – seemed like I was drinking from a fire hose.
At the AEM Annual Conference last year, Peter Diamandis, CEO of XPRIZE, made a bold prediction to those of us in the audience. He predicted that a decade from now 40% of today’s Fortune 500 companies will be put out of business by disruptive technologies. Although that probably sounds extreme to many of us, I’m sure that former employees at Kodak, Blockbuster, and Borders are less blown away the prediction.
What are the nightmares that cause software engineers to wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat? Is it a bad dream about finding their prized toy collection with all of the action figures out of the box? Maybe it’s a mythical sink hole that swallows up the town of Riverside, IA (the future birthplace of Captain James Kirk)? Or, could it be something work related?
DISTek recently surveyed engineers, engineering managers, and engineering executives from companies that manufacture off-highway equipment on the technical outlook for the industry. In the survey we asked respondents about their largest concerns with future on-vehicle technology. The largest concern, selected by 3 out of every 4 respondents, was reliability.