Integrated Projects Engineering Overview

IPE Team
A few members of the IPE Team: Bob, Ryan, and William

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, then you probably know a lot of about the areas that DISTek works within. Our expertise ranges across the off-highway vehicle industry (including agriculture, construction, and forestry) with engineers that specialize in a variety of disciplines. Out of convenience, we typically group these disciplines into three big areas (“embedded software,” “automation and test,” and “modeling and simulation”), but the reality is that we do all kinds of projects that cross-over between these disciplines.

In some cases, we’ve even run into projects that touch on all of these areas. It’s not hard to imagine. Maybe you need to develop a complex system for your vehicle. As a forward-thinking company, you realize that you are going to want to model both the control algorithm and the physics of the system, which allows Model-in-the-Loop (MIL) simulations to quickly develop, test and iterate on your design. Fortunately, you asked DISTek to help you design these, so you have a control model that can automatically generate embedded software for your particular controller of choice. What’s more, DISTek worked with you to create a plant model that will run on a Hardware-in-the-Loop (HIL) test system, so you are able to test that your software works correctly with your controller before your prototype vehicle has even been assembled.

This all sounds pretty easy in theory, right? As you may have guessed, it actually takes a well-coordinated team of engineers that specialize in particular areas while understanding both how your system works as a whole and how the individual parts of the development cycle are going to feed into each other. We often hear about organizations that are built into “silos” or “bubbles” and struggle to keep all these different areas on the same page. DISTek has decided to take a few steps to avoid these traps. As you will see in some future blog posts, our company is interested in adopting a “Team of Teams” approach. One of these teams has been created to shake-up our company by bringing some of our best engineers from our different disciplines into a single group that we are calling the Integrated Projects Engineering (IPE) team.

While you may think that cross-disciplinary projects like the one I described above might be the stuff of nightmares, these are exactly the kinds of projects that get those of us fortunate enough to be a part of the IPE team drooling. It is not a team for the faint of heart. In fact, we have some very high expectations to even join the team. To be considered, an engineer needs to have maintained a consistent track record of successful engineering projects while at DISTek. They also must have demonstrated a high degree of motivation, both pursuing and fulfilling tasks that exceed the standard expectations of their current role. Most importantly, DISTek takes our culture of quality and integrity extremely seriously, so we specifically look for engineers that harbor an authentic and conscientious sense of “The DISTek Way”. Candidates who meet these criteria and are excited about the challenging opportunities that the IPE team faces are then interviewed and carefully selected to create a balanced team.

Not only is this is a great opportunity for companies that are interested in “one-stop shop” for developing their latest product or who are looking for guidance while they dip their toe into a new technical field, but it is also a chance for highly motivated engineers to interact directly with each other and discover ways to be even more productive. That is why we sometimes compare the experience of being on the team to obtaining a master’s degree in “DISTek-ology”. Assignments to this team last approximately two to three years so that the engineers can take what they learn from each other and the projects they work on back out into DISTek and share them with their colleagues around the company. It is a great way to encourage the “neural network” framework that the “Team of Teams” approach relies upon and strengthen DISTek’s technical foundations.

We have recently assembled the first IPE team of five engineers. Combined, they have decades of experience in their respective fields and they already have a few successful projects under their belts that they have completed as a team. A few years back, Thomas Aquinas wrote that “If the highest aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would keep it in port forever.” Well, we’re incredibly passionate about what we do and excited every time we embark on a challenging project, so if you are interested in booking us for a voyage or two, please drop us a line!