Dr. Jon Friedman at MathWorks discusses the importance of and provides advice on using Model-Based Design.
Why adopt Model-Based Design?
Model-Based Design is a leading way that aerospace companies are reducing their development time, while maintaining or increasing the quality of their products. This model-based approach helps engineers explore design alternatives quickly without the need for as much prototype hardware, which often requires a significant amount of time to produce. Using models helps engineers identify problems with their requirements or designs early in the development process when it is easier and quicker to fix them. To this end, many companies have migrated to Model-Based Design and saved on the order of 20 percent to 60 percent of development time.
In Model-Based Design, models are used throughout the develop- ment process and provide a common platform for requirement analysis, algorithm design, plant modeling, code generation, and testing. Using models, analysis and test are performed early in the development process, where errors cost less to fix than later in the process.
What is the biggest challenge the mil-aero community faces today?
One of the biggest challenges is living with the complexity of modern systems. Systems engineers used to manage system complexity by establishing subsystems, identifying and managing interfaces and cascading system-level requirements to subsystems and components, and then integrating at the end of the design process. To meet timing, weight, and cost tradeoffs, modern systems need to be designed at the system level rather than integrated at the end.
What advice do you offer?
Occasionally, when mil-aero organizations investigate Model-Based Design, both managers and engineers view the change as having the goal of automating away jobs; in reality, the opposite is true. Engineers shift their focus from manual reviews and rework of designs to building models that allow them to find and fix errors where they are introduced. The automation of style checks, coding, and test execution frees engineers to focus on being creative to meet customer requirements.
Model-Based Design also supports a culture of collaboration where engineers across different teams and with different academic backgrounds use the same graphical programming environment and talk in the language of models. So, my advice is to adopt Model-Based Design to support engineers in what they do well, innovating and creating, and automate those tasks that are repetitive.
We are in a tough economic environment. To meet this challenge, mil-aero companies want to increase the efficiency of their engineers. One way to achieve lower cost is to spend less time in development.
By moving simulation and analysis to the beginning of the development process, Model-Based Design saves companies money by helping engineers find errors early.
NAME: Dr. Jon Friedman
TITLE: Industry marketing manager, aerospace and defense
CO: The MathWorks
ROLE: Developer of mathematical computing software for engineers and scientists