Trends, Challenges and Innovation Spaces for Digital Engineering

If we wish to prepare a generation of professionals and experts in the Industry and Energy field to can solve real-world problems, we must give them real-world problems to solve.

chemical plant

One of the greatest challenges of today’s society and in particular the European Union is to develop a more competitive, efficient, productive, innovative and under a high added value sustainable model industry.

An industry, able to lead both strategic and emerging sectors by creating high valued job positions, requires its efforts to focus on R&D+I and knowledge management. And to do this, it is necessary to make an incremental effort in each and every one of the components that directly or indirectly affect the industry. The purpose is to promote new forms and methods for learning and training of professionals that will be drawn into the market, and training and adaptation of existing professionals to be more competitive in their present positions by using more effective digital technologies and processes.

The New Digital Era is beginning to define a new global scenario, which goes further than the simple digitization of objects and things. It is a new context that involves a new way of thinking and adapting the knowledge, processes and procedures to this new backdrop, as well as its transmission to persons and professionals in this field. This is something that is very subtly present in our day to day and that is clearly reflected in digital engineering and in technologies, methods and procedures that are applied to several sectors such as medical, industrial, energy, water management, manufacture and telecommunication, etc.

To speak of digital engineering is to speak of simulation, virtual reality and so forth. Thomas Perkins already in 1985 clearly described this in his work Simulation Technology in Operator Training. Full-scope, plant specific simulators are part of a new reality. In which he explained how in the early 1970s the first simulators to be used in training plant operators in nuclear plants were developed. Many years have passed since then and there have been great changes in this field, both at the conceptual and operational level, which will be examined in detail in this work.

The future framework for training, learning and vocational training of professionals from the industry and energy sectors, leave permanently redefined from the experiences and case studies of working groups and national and international experts from a more global perspective.

Innovation is making headway in this complex world, where the contribution and converge of knowledge and technologies, procedures and interactive learning methods, is revolutionizing the world of e-training, for a more global and qualified professionals.

But in this process, we want to focus on one key success factor: “the use of digital technologies such as advanced simulators technologies, the serious gaming, augmented reality, on-line communication, integrated devices, geometry scanning, or digital interactive documents in order to improve the productivity, the quality, the security and the implementation methodology of these practices”.

The improvement in the development of professional’s activity, performed by digital engineering experts, is a key factor to resolve faster and better complex or critical situations. For this purpose, it is necessary to analyze and manage multiple and heterogeneous information, data, situations, localizations and databases, based on technology, to provide real solutions in a knowledge management environment.

Advanced Simulations, Game Based Training, Gammification, Augmented Reality and Digital Interactive Manuals offer new possibilities in the educational and professional training environment, allowing a greater involvement of students in their own learning context and a continuous digital content and tools evolution.

The teacher / tutor-student relationship is enhanced by the facilities that offer Simulations & Serious Games and Augmented Reality technology when creating virtual communities and tools for the use in the classroom in an effective, simple and friendly community. The efficient new technologies implementation in old organizations needs to adapt methods and procedures in a culture change program. Actions Based Training is the way to success.

Actions Based Learning ®, which is a new Technology Based Training Approach, depending on the organization and training project to address, creates a matrix that meets the requirements for every action, what user profile addresses each action, what type of training program, capacitive or training, the exchange of information and documentation to be used, the format and method to deliver information and the technology to use.

Serious Games, Virtual Reality, Advanced Simulators, Digital Text Books, Augmented Reality…and the integration with brand new devices and Actions Based Learning methods will drive this challenge to a new dimension of interactive training and maintenance and support of risk and critical situations. In which technology convergence, efficient knowledge management, sustainability and time will be the new drivers of Digital Engineering in the Energy and Industry fields.

Carlos J. Ochoa Fernández ©

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The New Digital Era is Here to Stay.

The Contemporary Era is already a matter of the past. It finished by the end of the last decade and the “New Digital Age” has subtly come into our lives, but directly impacting each and every one of our daily activities.

Future is digital

Without realizing it, we begin a New Year in the same way we say goodbye to past years. It is already stacked in our minds, and almost falling into oblivion. But one thing’s for sure: we, full of good intentions and broken promises, are willing to face the New Year 2013 challenge.

One of the most common and rhetoric exercises we all do around this time is to set goals for the New Year. Objectives that we tend to forget to review or evaluate them in a critical and constructive way on its completion in order to learn something new. And I honestly think that this exercise should be prior to set ourselves new challenges, which are often product of an unrealistic Christmas euphoria that will lead us, “once again if time and strength do not prevent it”, to a sense of frustration and discouragement. But just in case we want to still remember them by the end of the year.

Last year has been really complicated in every respect, especially in referring to social, working and economic factors. And when I speak of “complicated”, I speak of “an optimistic view of the situation”. The most pressing projections are not good omens for the first several months of 2013.

However, this should not prevent us not to set ourselves realistic targets, which allow us first and foremost to have a strategy and a personal attitude and which help us to grow as a person and develop our excellent skills. Those stand out in critical situations, in which we are fighting endless external factors. Our primary purpose is to cope with optimism the path of life and feel better about ourselves in a complex environment.

The permanent feeling of dissatisfaction, frustration and fatigue, the wake of the protracted crisis, increased by pessimism, bad mood, apathy or disenchantment, does not take us into the best situations to overcome any internal or external situation and face daily tasks with a clear personal mission. And this undermines our physical and emotional capacity to react and act both freely and with a blind faith in ourselves.

Human beings have shown throughout their life that they have been able to adapt and evolve in much more complex and adverse situations than the current ones. The fact remains that the current situation affects a relatively small part of the total world population. However, it was the source or origin of modern civilization.

This makes me to reflect more deeply on our goals and not just on the speculation of the capitalist economic theory. We should perhaps deepen beyond the origin and rules governing our today’s democratic society models and the educational model (single model), based on a training aimed at the attainment of a qualified work oriented to training productive people for society and not to free and independent citizens able to think and choose freely, change the rules and adapt them to the real needs of a new, sustainable and modern society. A model change is a structural shift in its widest extent. That’s the definition of an Era change.

When the Contemporary Age was defined as the historical period between the French Revolution and today, it was determined at its maximum extent by including in the definition the word “today” as an infinite element in time. Throughout this time, we have lived in “the present”, in which great changes have occurred: demographic transitions, large demographic growths, arising of new emerging and developed countries, consumption generalization, etc., by raising the standard of living of most citizens from all over the world. In contrast, human beings create wide short-term disparities and uncertainties, such as the environmental impact and the scarcity of natural resources, among others.

And we return to the “today”, where the definition of Contemporaneity was set. Some major changes at a rate much higher than in past centuries are still happening “today”. Time has become a critical factor to measure and evaluate the changes and their impact in this new digital age.

This new contemporary and necessarily sustainable digital age is taking shape with the so-called Mega-Trends. Or, in other words, major trends that affect each and every one of the components existing on Earth that should ensure the sustainability of a global society model.

Seeing all this, I have no doubt that we find ourselves in a New Scenario, in which we are looking to a New Age following a remarkable process towards Digital society. The Contemporary Era is already a matter of the past. It finished by the end of the last decade and the new Digital Age has subtly come into our lives, but directly impacting each and every one of our daily activities. In this new Digital Age, ” the network ” has become the axis of our way to communicate, keep us informed, train and develop ourselves, work, participate, etc.

The Mega-Trends of the new Digital Era that will change the world we are living in.

I have tried to reflect on the following chart the common dominator from Mega-Trends, which were defined by several organizations, international consulting companies and universities in their studies for 2020, by analyzing the digital impact on each of them.

  1. Society: a community which takes place in a network system and is affected by demographic changes and new mobility patterns.
  2. Business: A new business environments’ development and a great impact of the knowledge-based economy.
  3. Technology: With a view to an interconnected digital world with great impact and dependence upon technological convergence.
  4. Energy: The demand increase for the emerging countries growth and the alternative and sustainable development.
  5. Citizens: A significant increase in the ageing, diversity and globalization of population. A development around big smart cities.
  6. Environment: A substantial impact of the climate change and the recycling of natural resources.
  7. Time: A smart and efficient time management in order to anticipate unforeseen situations or to compete favorably in a global situation.

And this, which appears to be a brief summary of a science fiction film, is the immediate present. In order to evaluate it visually and simply, one just has to go back ten years and see the impact of the changes made in present-day society by the Internet world, for instance.

In short, after this journey of the intangible things, the metaphor of digital and finite space in which we are living, through time, we just have to value “the person”, the human being, us. Humans are going now from being “the patient” to “the subject of the present”.

I wish each of you a good night, good luck and all the best for this “New Digital Age” we are about to enter.

Carlos J. Ochoa Fernández ©

On the Road Again. 2013 La Nueva Era Digital.

La Edad Contemporánea es ya cosa del pasado, se agotó a finales de la década pasada y la nueva Edad Digital ha entrado en nuestras vidas de una manera sutil pero impactando directamente en todas y cada una de nuestras actividades diarias.

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Y apenas sin darnos cuenta nos encontramos ante un nuevo año, con la misma cara con la que despedimos el anterior y los últimos pasados. Ya en el recuerdo y casi en el olvido. Pero eso sí, repletos de buenas intenciones y promesas incumplidas dispuestos a afrontar el nuevo reto del 2013.

Uno de los ejercicios más habituales y retóricos que hacemos todos por estas fechas, es fijarnos objetivos para el nuevo año. Objetivos que en la mayoría de los casos olvidamos repasar o valorar de una manera crítica y constructiva a la finalización del mismo, con el fin de obtener alguna lección aprendida. Y sinceramente, creo que este ejercicio debería ser previo a fijarnos nuevos retos, que muchas veces son producto de una euforia navideña poco realista y que nos llevará, “una vez más y si el tiempo y la fuerza no lo remedian”, a la frustración y el desánimo. Pero sólo en el caso de que los queramos recordar al final del año.

Este año pasado ha sido realmente complicado en todos los aspectos, especialmente en lo referente a lo social, laboral y económico. Si se me acepta complicado como una acepción optimista de la situación. Y las proyecciones más inmediatas no nos desvelan buenos presagios para los primeros meses del recién iniciado año.

Sin embargo, esto no debe ser óbice para no fijarnos unos objetivos realistas, que nos permitan ante todo, tener una estrategia y actitud personal vital y que nos ayude a crecer más como personas y desarrollar nuestras habilidades excelentes. Esas que sobresalen en situaciones críticas, en las que luchamos contra infinitos factores externos. Con un fin primordial, afrontar con optimismo el camino de la vida y sentirnos a gusto con nosotros mismos en un entorno complejo.

La permanente sensación de insatisfacción, frustración y cansancio ante la situación de crisis prolongada, aumentada por el pesimismo, el mal humor, la desidia o el desencanto, y no nos dispone en la mejor de las situaciones para superar cualquier situación interior o exterior y afrontar el día a día con una misión personal clara. Y esto merma toda nuestra capacidad física y emocional para reaccionar y actuar libremente y con fe ciega en nosotros mismos.

El ser humano ha demostrado a lo largo de su vida y desarrollo, que ha sabido adaptarse y evolucionar en situaciones mucho más desfavorables y complejas que las actuales. Y no es menos cierto, que la situación actual afecta a una parte relativamente pequeña del total de la población mundial. Y sin embargo, un día fue la fuente y origen de la civilización moderna.

Esto me lleva a realizar una reflexión un poco más profunda, evitando quedarme en la mera especulación de la teoría económica capitalista. Quizá deberíamos profundizar más allá de los orígenes y reglas que rigen nuestros modelos de sociedad democrática actual y el modelo educativo (modelo único), basado en una formación orientada a la consecución de un trabajo cualificado y demandado socialmente, orientado a formar personas productivas para la sociedad y no a ciudadanos libres e independientes con capacidad de pensar y elegir libremente y de forma distinta, cambiar las reglas y adaptarlas a las necesidades reales de una nueva sociedad sostenible y moderna. Un cambio de modelo es un cambio estructural en su más amplia magnitud. Esto es, un cambio de era.

Cuando se definió la Edad Contemporánea como el periodo histórico comprendido entre la Revolución francesa y la actualidad, se acotó esta época en su máxima magnitud, al incluir en la definición “la actualidad” como elemento infinito en el tiempo. A lo largo de esta época, hemos vivido en “la actualidad”, en la que se han producido grandes cambios: transiciones demográficas, grandes crecimientos demográficos, aparición de nuevos países emergentes y desarrollados, la generalización del consumo, etc…elevando el nivel de vida de una mayor parte de los ciudadanos del mundo. Pero por el contrario, creando grandes desigualdades e incertidumbres a corto plazo, como el impacto medioambiental y la escasez de los recursos naturales…entre otros.

Y volvemos a “la actualidad”, en donde se nos ancló la definición de Contemporaneidad. En la que se siguen produciendo grandes cambios y cada vez a una velocidad muy superior a la que se produjeron en los siglos pasados. El tiempo se ha convertido en un factor crítico para medir, y evaluar los cambios y su impacto en esta nueva Era Digital.

Esta Era Digital, contemporánea y necesariamente sostenible, se va configurando a través de lo que se denominan Mega-Trends. O lo que es lo mismo, grandes tendencias que afectan a todos y cada uno de los componentes de este planeta, todavía llamado Tierra y que deben velar por la sostenibilidad de un modelo de sociedad global.

Viendo este escenario, al menos a mí y a título personal, no me queda duda alguna de que nos encontramos inmersos en un Nuevo Escenario. Escenario en el que se va diluyendo una vieja Era y se va dibujando una Nueva, en un proceso de transición meteórica hacia la sociedad Digital y en Red. La Edad Contemporánea es ya cosa del pasado, se agotó a finales de la década pasada y la Edad Digital ha entrado en nuestras vidas de una manera sutil pero impactando directamente en todas y cada una de nuestras actividades diarias. En esta nueva Edad Digital, “la red” se ha convertido en el eje fundamental de nuestra actividad para comunicarnos, informarnos, formarnos, desarrollarnos, trabajar, participar, …

Las Mega-Trends de la Nueva Era Digital. Grandes tendencias que cambiarán el mundo en el que vivimos.

He intentado reflejar en el cuadro siguiente, el común denominador de las Mega-Trends definidas por las distintas organizaciones, consultoras internacionales y universidades en sus estudios para el periodo 2020. Analizando el impacto de lo digital sobre cada una de ellas.

1.- Sociedad: Una sociedad que se desarrolla en Red, afectada por los cambios demográficos y nuevos patrones de movilidad

2.- Negocio: Desarrollo de nuevos ecosistemas de negocio y fuerte impacto de la economía del conocimiento

3.- Tecnología: Hacia un mundo digital interconectado con fuerte impacto y dependencia de la convergencia tecnológica

4.- Energía: Fuerte aumento de la demanda por el crecimiento de países emergentes y desarrollo de alternativas y sostenibles

5.- Ciudadanos: Fuerte aumento del envejecimiento, diversidad y globalización. Desarrollo alrededor de grandes ciudades inteligentes

6.- Medio Ambiente: Notable impacto del cambio climático y reciclado de recursos

7.- Tiempo: Gestión inteligente y eficiente del tiempo para anticiparse a situaciones imprevistas, o competir en situación global ventajosa.

Esto, que parece un breve resumen de un guion de película de ciencia ficción del futuro, es el presente inmediato. Para evaluarlo de una manera sencilla y visual, sólo bastaría con echar la vista atrás una década y vez el impacto de los cambios producidos en la sociedad actual a través del mundo de internet, por ejemplo. De todo esto y mucho mas hablaremos y reflexionaremos a lo largo de este año.

En definitiva, tras este ejercicio de recorrido por el tiempo de las cosas intangibles, la metáfora de lo digital y el espacio finito en el que nos desenvolvemos, nos queda poner en valor a “la persona”, el ser humano, a nosotros. Dejando de una vez para siempre de ser “sujeto paciente” a ser “actor libre y principal del presente”.

Buenas noches, buena suerte y mis mejores deseos para esta “Nueva Era Digital” en la que nos adentramos.

Carlos J. Ochoa Fernández ©