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[Portrait 11] Julien Baclet, systems engineer, MBSE modeling expert

IRT Saint Exupéry pursues a series of portraits devoted to the men and women who best represent the institute: its researchers. Their high-level skills and wealth of experience contribute hugely to IRT Saint Exupéry’s performance and unique position, which is so crucial for its members and partners.

Can you tell us about your career?

Back in the early 2000s, new technologies and digital tools fascinated me because it was already felt that it would be something huge. So I decided to study engineering and I attended the ISEN[7] school in Lille. My end-of-study internship in a defense company, MBDA, took me to the Paris region, where I stayed for ten years. For the next two years I worked in the means of testing design for fire control systems for frigates. Then I went back to the subject of my internship at Carmat, a MedTech[8] start-up that is developing a total artificial heart. In 2012 I got a job at Zodiac Aerospace, where I worked on embedded fuel gauging calculators on aircraft. As a member of IRT Saint Exupéry’s MOISE project, Zodiac Aerospace offered a seconded contract in Toulouse, which I took in 2016. At the end of the project, IRT Saint Exupéry needed to sustain systems engineering skills on a permanent basis, and Patrick Farail, the head of the Systems Engineering domain, offered me a job. And now I’ve been an IRT Saint Exupéry employee since 1 April 2019.

What does a systems engineer do?

Systems engineers (see Nesrine Badach portrait as well), also known as systems architects, ensure the consistency of the development of a product.
They provide the technical link between the various players in the process, namely the client and the different professionals who are involved: mechanics, electronics engineers and software developers. Throughout my career I’ve cultivated an inclination towards improving methods of collaboration. And at IRT Saint Exupéry we focus precisely on innovations in the collaborative processes and methods in which the different technical operations of a company are involved, so as to achieve the right result more quickly. We strive to improve collaboration in the extended enterprise, that is, by integrating the many sub-contractors that take part in a project. Using these processes, methods and tools as a starting point, we enable all these entities to exchange information. These data concern the expected functions of the product, the interfaces, its behavior or its weight. The data must be easily accessible by all the players of the extended enterprise while at the same time complying with the constraints of intellectual property.

 

All these processes of digital transformation that are part of Industry 4.0 are supported by change management for the sake of better appropriation by industry players. On the in-house project BabyMod, in fact, Nicolas Hili is studying new approaches to collaboration by integrating the contribution of new technology such as touch-screen interfaces or artificial intelligence into the human-machine relationship. Group psychology and cognitive sciences will be taken in account to a greater extent in the future.

 

Many of our activities are related to the DDMS[9] program launched by Airbus in February 2019, which aims to design, produce and offer digital services in all its divisions and product ranges. This major focus on collaboration in complex aeronautics and space systems at IRT Saint Exupéry is applicable to the automotive and medical fields as well. On large projects that involve complex systems and require sub-contracting, the challenge is to have an overall view and to share information with everyone in order to make the best decisions.

In which projects do you have the role of coordinator of methodology?

Two projects followed on from the MOISE project and on the whole they both involve the same industrial members. I devote 20% of my time to the S2C project, which is concerned with digital continuity between systems definition and safety analyses, in collaboration with IRT SystemX.

 

I am also involved on a 50% basis with the D2C project, which aims to define future methods of collaboration on systems design in the extended enterprise. The key to success lies in the interoperability of the different initiatives of digital transformation now under way amongst the industrial members.

What results have been obtained?

The MOISE project has been very successful with members, as is shown in their continued commitment and research in several projects.

 

I participated in the development of a methodology that built up a unified view of the product architecture that will be used and enriched in the D2C project. To validate this approach, we have developed AIDA, a four-propellers drone for pre-flight inspection of airliner structure—a case study representative of the industry. The models of systems engineering, safety analysis and performance of flight control laws developed in AIDA are accessible under open-source license.

 

I also contributed to TeePee, the proof of concept of an exchange platform that aggregates distributed and heterogeneous systems engineering data.

 

These results were presented at several conferences.

 

Provision of service should get under way soon.

 

We also offer our members an ontology, that is, a glossary containing over 300 conceptual terms and relating the terms to each other, to facilitate comprehension of this rapidly expanding field of research. This ontology of data is like a grammar book of MBSE in the extended enterprise. A database containing 230 methods, software tools and languages, the support of the state of the art in our field, is accessible via a web site.

What do you like at IRT Saint Exupéry?

In my previous companies there was little emphasis on innovation of methods and processes. Today it may be a bit more in fashion. So I was thrilled to join IRT Saint Exupéry, where I could make full use of the competences I had gained from inside knowledge of several industries (defense, medical and aeronautic).

 

At IRT Saint Exupéry we are in touch with the whole ecosystem: industrialists who express their needs; academics, who put forward theoretical solutions; and software editors, who incubate our results at IRT Saint Exupéry and then sell them to industrialists. I love having the complete view and doing this work of synthesis, which consists in finding the best compromise between the needs of all those involved. I really enjoy it!


Links

[1] Model-Based Systems Engineering

[2] Aeronautical Technical Center of the Technical Directorate of the General Directorate of Armament of the French Ministry of Armed Forces

[3] Mechanical engineering school

[4] Toulouse Institute of Computer Science Research (CNRS/UT3 Paul Sabatier/INP Toulouse/UT1 Capitole/UT2 Jean Jaurès)

[5] Higher Education Institute of Aeronautics and Space

[6] Laboratory for Analysis and Architecture of Systems

[7] Higher Institute of Electronics and Digital Technology

[8] medical technology

[9] Digital Design, Manufacturing and Services

[10] French Systems Engineering Association