Together with Aker Solutions and Multiconsult, Digitread is sponsoring a professorship at NTNU. The aim is to further develop a professional environment that will work with automating design processes using machine learning and artificial intelligence.

“Aker Solutions has been the initiator of this professorship. We are automating and optimizing our design processes, including reusing the experiences we have gained from previous projects and using them on other projects. An example of this is on board drilling installations; all objects are designed based on certain rules, regulations, laws and standards. For example, there are rules for how high the stairs for a staircase should be and how wide the stairs must be. Since these things are described in detail for each item, we can now automate many more parts of the design process. Thus, if we want to build a staircase, we only need to enter the height between the two floors and where the stairs should be placed, then the computer does the rest; it calculates how many steps are required, the width of the stairs and the height of the rail system,” explains Kjartan Pedersen, Senior Manager, Strategic & External Research for Aker Solutions.
In particular, if there is a need to change a design, this automated method saves a lot of time and effort. If the floor heights change, the system is enabled to automatically design a new staircase that fits the space exactly and is designed to comply with the rules.
“We cooperated on this with NTNU at an earlier stage with good results. We have also employed many of the students who have worked on similar topics at the university. Since we want to streamline the working methods in this field further and create an even better interface with users, we want to help create a new professorship to strengthen the NTNU academic environment in this field,” he continues.

 Senior Manager, Strategic & External Research for Aker Solutions

Head at the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Production at NTNU.

Interdisciplinary cooperation
Aker Solutions saw the value of collaborating with more players outside of their own industry and believe they can learn a lot from each other’s impact:
“Hence, the choice fell on Multiconsult, since we believe that the building industry can benefit from this in their building information models. Digitread, the other partner, works more on software and design tools. Digitread has worked on similar models aimed at the shipping industry, and especially at the shipyards on the west coast of Norway,” Pedersen highlights.

A good fit with NTNU studies
The Department of Mechanical Engineering and Production has digitalization and automated production high on its agenda. That is why this professorship fits well:
“Today, there are 220 people working in the department who are divided into six research groups. If we look a few years ahead, we may have a new group that only deals with digitization and then such a professorship will be very central. Thus, it’s very important for us to find the right candidate. We want to hire a person who is both ahead of the software vendors and the industry, but who at the same time is able to build a solid research environment around these issues,” explains Torgeir Welo, department head at NTNU.
The collaboration between Aker Solutions, Multiconsult, Digitread and NTNU has already been signed and implemented, but who will receive the professorship has not yet been decided:
“We have started the process, but the response so far has not led us to find the right candidate. Hence, NTNU has engaged a global recruitment agency that specializes in headhunting for academic positions internationally. We are already using a lot of resources on this recruitment campaign, but it’s worth adding further resources to ensure we find the perfect candidate,” Welo continues.

The professorship is important for Norwegian competitiveness
Digitread has worked extensively with NTNU since the mid 90’s both in connection with teaching and research projects:
“In many areas, Digitread is the industry’s first-choice digitization partner. We provide expertise and solutions within IoT, digital twins and support systems for enterprise innovation in cooperation with Siemens. We have been invited to join this project in recognition of the expertise we have in supporting industry in their digitization processes. We are convinced that this will be a spearhead that will affect both those participating in the project and industry as a whole,” states Helge Kjeilen, Chair of Digitread. This is backed up by CEO of Digitread, Magnus Normann:
“As I see it, this professorship will give both leading companies in industry and NTNU a big boost to make automation of design processes more effective and more streamlined. This is important for securing Norwegian jobs through increased efficiency and more added value. We cannot afford to keep doing things manually when it can be automated instead. Automation will enable us to forge ahead of the competition,” he emphasizes.
“The collaboration between NTNU, Aker Solutions, Multiconsult and Digitread will ensure academic and industrial pressure and momentum to find new solutions. It is essential to change,” says Normann.

PUBLISHED: October 03rd 2018