Digital apprentices – the young digital brains

With 25 employees, Digitread is a relatively small Norwegian company. Nevertheless, they have engaged no less than four Master’s students, who they call digital apprentices. The idea behind this initiative is to ensure that next-generation engineers have a good understanding of technology in general, but it is particularly important that they understand how technology can be put into use in the real world.

It is challenging to find the right expertise in the established industry, thus Digitread has always looked towards the major educational institutions like NTNU, the University of South-East Norway and the University of Bremen and selected students from there. “We have a self-imposed responsibility to help companies with improvements through digitalization. This kind of expertise becomes essential for our success“, says Helge Keilen, Chair of Digitread. “The term Industry 4.0 describes the fourth industrial revolution in which digitization and automation occur so quickly that we talk about a rate of change that is exponential. In order to keep pace with this development, we must secure the wise young minds born and raised in the digital world we are in and help develop them so they understand how technology can be transformed into practical solutions for use in companies“, he adds.

Olav Ulstein Vattøy

  • Age: 25
  • Nationality: Norwegian
  • Teaching Institution: The University College of Southeast Norway, Campus Kongsberg
  • Studying (topic): Systems Engineering

“I currently have a part-time position at Digitread and I have been here for about a year. The rest of the time I study at the University. I have signed a three year contract to learn more about Industrial Engineering in Systems Engineering, focusing on designing and managing complex systems through the product lifecycle. I expect to conclude the contract with my Master’s thesis in 2019. At Digitread I gain a lot of practical experience while studying too. It’s very useful, because then I can put the theories I learn at University into practice. I can also use some of my work assignments in my studies. Most of my fellow students are deployed in industrial companies. While I am working in a company that develops and delivers the tools that will make the day-to-day life of these businesses easier and more efficient. It’s challenging, exciting and interesting. I do not know what to do when I finish my studies, but a job here at Digitread is high on my wish list.”

Minnette Flaig

  • Age: 21
  • Nationality: German
  • Teaching Institution: The University of Applied Sciences in Bremen
  • Studying (topic): Bachelor of Engineering in Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering

“I started as an intern at Digitread this August, so I have just been here a few weeks and will work here until Christmas. An internship is mandatory in my studies and it’s very nice to get the opportunity to be an intern at Digitread in Norway. It’s life-enhancing to stay some months in a foreign country I have never been before, and not just visit the country for vacation, but for work. Working in an international company like Digitread and being a member of their dynamic team is great. Digitread is implementing and supporting the use of software which I think is the basis of good engineering. What I want the most when I have finished my education is either to work in the field of hydrodynamic calculations or do construction modelling combined with customer contact.”

Martin Eie

  • Age: 27
  • Nationality: Norwegian
  • Teaching Institution: Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at NTNU
  • Studying (topic): Mechanical Engineering
  • Writing Master’s thesis about: Engineer to Order (ETO)

“After contacting Digitread this spring, they helped me to formulate ideas for my Master’s thesis on the topics they focus on. This summer I also received an offer to work with them on my Master’s thesis at their office in Sandvika. Among other things, my task is to investigate how Norwegian companies offer tailor-made products, and whether this production can be automated to a greater extent than it is currently. The best thing about this collaboration is that I get feedback from someone who is interested in what I’m doing. In addition, it piles on extra pressure, which is good. I get help if I need it, and it’s great to receive support from a professional environment in addition to the teachers I have at the University. At Digitread they are committed to science, research and development, and they follow technology trends closely in a variety of industries. Once I graduate I am interested in working both within CAD or PLM, then of course Digitread could be a very relevant employer for me in the future.”

Sönke Tobias Hoppe

  • Age: 24
  • Nationality: German
  • Teaching Institution: Hochschule Bremen – University of Applied Sciences
  • Studying (topic): Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering (M.Eng.)
  • Completed Bachelor’s thesis about: Parametric Analysis of Free Moving Cable-Guiding Pulleys Using NX CAE (December 2015 – March 2016)
  • Writing Master’s thesis about: Multidisciplinary Design Optimization Performed on an Example of a Parametric Ship Hull (May 2017 – December 2017)

“I got in touch with Digitread in October 2015 because the company supported me during my Bachelor’s thesis. As I was interested in how to use NX in shipbuilding, Digitread continued to support me with their software during my Master’s studies as well. In May 2017, I started to write my Master’s thesis in cooperation with Digitread and CD-Adapco. I’m happy that Digitread is supporting me with their software and has given me the possibility to acquire skills in NX and Teamcenter during my studies. It is a good way to get to know the software and whenever I have a question, I have been able to interact with the support team.
Furthermore, the company has given me the opportunity to present my projects at the NX Ship User Meeting 2017 and PLM Europe 2017. Since I’m from Germany, one benefit is that I can live in a foreign country for a certain time. As Digitread cooperates with many customers, the projects and challenges are always different. Furthermore, it is a small and steadily growing company which creates a good working atmosphere.
When I finish my studies, I’d like to work as a naval architect using PLM software, with the focus on automation and simplification of ship design processes by creating product templates and developing new software solutions with NXOpen to maximise productivity.”

The students are given opportunities
Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Gregor Schellenberger, MSE at The City University of Applied Sciences says: ” For our students it is a great opportunity to work as an intern at Digitread or write a thesis in combination with and supported by Digitread. Coming in contact with and getting trained on state-of-the-art technology for product development and life cycle management is a great benefit for our students. Applying this technology by adapting it to customer needs in the maritime sector leads our students to the cutting-edge of Shipbuilding Industry 4.0.”
“We are very happy to have Digitreads Technical Lead Shipbuilding and Naval Architect Torben-H. Stachowski Torben as a graduate of our University. He is very active in strengthening the link between the University of Applied Sciences Bremen and Digitread. We are looking forward to sending more students to Norway in the future”, he continues.

Experienced engineers and recent graduates
“For our organization, it is very stimulating to bring in new, young people who are open to the digital world. When we recruit, we often hire experienced engineers from the oil and gas industry, and we have plucked employees from well-known companies such as GE, Aker and FMC. But it is a very nice combination to hire both experienced engineers and recent graduates. We are also involved in several research projects in cooperation with educational institutions and universities in Norway and abroad, hence we also place great emphasis on maintaining continuous contact with academia”, concludes Keilen.

PUBLISHED: September 07th 2017