Can you please explain your job at Thales Alenia Space in Italy?
I’m the Referent for Digital Transformation regarding Earth Observation, Exploration and Navigation. Since Thales Alenia Space has started to “go digital”, I’m here to define the digital transformation plan and make sure we have all the necessary resources. Digital transformation is not just a trendy buzzword, it’s an imperative that we as a company need to embrace to keep pace with progress. It’s a change driven by technology, based on the introduction of robotics, artificial intelligence, big data, and other production technologies and methods, but above all it represents a change in our culture.
What are you most proud of in your day-to-day activity?
To be working for a space company! I’ve always loved science (and science fiction), and especially astrophysics and space. I feel like I have realized my childhood dream of seeing spaceships with super-smart computers and undiscovered planets. Moreover, I play an active role in boosting our technological capabilities. I started three years ago by developing software tools that use computer graphics and virtual reality to support AIT, and to test operational concepts involving our products. Now I have an even wider scope of responsibility, with the challenge of overseeing the digitalization process in OEN.
Which event in your career did you enjoy the most?
I’ve only been at Thales Alenia Space since 2015. Before that, I was a researcher for almost ten years at INFN (Research institute for Nuclear Physics) in Rome. I was a software developer in the APE group, dealing with supercomputers for complex theoretical physics calculations. In 2006 I worked on the development of a “compiler” for the current generation of supercomputers; at that time the supercomputer was called apeNEXT and it was as big as 14 refrigerators! A “compiler” is the software that translates computer programs from a human readable language (a programming language) into machine language (a series of bits). Programming a supercomputer without this kind of software is a hard job, almost impossible.
After months of work on my compiler, one day I managed to make it run properly, indicated by a single digit (zero) displayed on my screen. That meant I could program the supercomputer, I could talk with the machine! Science can be very moving, even when the outward sign is just a little digit.
In 3 words, what are the qualities required in your profession?
Initiative, perseverance, positivity.
Factory 4.0, Italian style!
Our Italian plants are deploying all the latest technologies, from additive manufacturing and CRATOS, to virtual and augmented reality.
Thales Alenia Space is introducing advanced technologies in the manufacturing process In a drive towards Factory 4.0. Turin has been working for months on additive manufacturing, while the thermo-mechanical lab in Rome is studying this technique for many different applications. In L’Aquila, the collaborative robot CRATOS is already being used to integrate electronic components on COSMO-SkyMed second generation satellites, but its greatest advantage is that this “cobot” can be reprogrammed for different tasks.
Labs in Turin and Rome are developing virtual reality tools to support AIT and engineering, while Milan, Rome and L’Aquila have started using big data analytics and machine learning to manage and extract information from the huge streams of data generated by tests, telemetry, etc. Thales Alenia Space in Italy also has several projects to connect all our production machinery and tools, for complete product lifecycle support. In short, we are applying the Internet of Things to manufacturing. Digital technologies allow us to capitalize on this data to work more efficiently and make better products.
First artistic view : ©Thales Alenia Space/Briot
First image Virtual Reality : ©IStock
Photo Laura + second image regarding Virtual Reality: ©Thales Alenia Space
CRATOS: ©Thales Alenia Space
Innovation : © Briot/Creative Spirit