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Brian Schmidt with Northrup Grumman
5th June 2024 • The Industrial Talk Podcast with Scott MacKenzie • The Industrial Talk Podcast with Scott MacKenzie
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Industrial Talk is onsite at OMG, Q1 Meeting and talking to Brian Schmidt, Technical Fellow and Chief Engineer with Northrop Grumman about "Digital Twin in the Defense and Aerospace Industry".
Brian Schmidt and Scott MacKenzie discussed the potential of digital twin technology in various industries, highlighting its benefits, challenges, and the importance of collaboration to overcome them. They emphasized the need for trustworthiness and security in digital twins, as well as their potential to optimize operations and improve efficiency. Brian shared his experience as a new co-chair of the aerospace and defense working group within the Digital Twin Consortium, while Scott provided insights and questions to further explore the topic.

Action Items

  • [ ] Produce a white paper from the Aerospace and Defense working group.
  • [ ] Make the Excel spreadsheet version of the periodic table artifact available from the Digital Twin Consortium.
  • [ ] Reach out to Brian Schmidt via LinkedIn for more information.


Digital twin technology and its applications in the aerospace and defense industry.

  • Brian Schmidt shares his background and experiences at Northrop Grumman.
  • Brian leads aerospace and defense working group, meets biweekly with industry colleagues.

Digital twins, data, and cyber security challenges in various industries.

  • Brian highlights the importance of digital twins in making informed decisions and iterating on ideas through simulations.
  • Brian: Industry still in early stages of leveraging digital twin capabilities.
  • Brian: Collaboration in working groups crucial to overcome challenges.
  • Brian: Digital twins require data, interoperability, and cyber security to be effective.
  • Brian: Trustworthiness and security are paramount for digital twins in aerospace and defense.

Digital twins and their potential to optimize manufacturing processes.

  • Scott MacKenzie and Brian discuss the benefits of digital twins in manufacturing, including efficiency and cost savings.
  • The digital twin consortium is creating a periodic table of sorts to organize and connect people working on similar projects.
  • Members of the consortium are regularly meeting in person and virtually to share ideas and produce white papers.
  • Brian is passionate about digital twin technology and collaboration.
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twin, digital, industrial, leverage, northrup grumman, challenges, part, brian, Consortium, talk, simulations, data, optimized, meeting, collaborate, aerospace, periodic table, people, industry, excel spreadsheet


Welcome to the Industrial Talk Podcast with Scott MacKenzie. Scott is a passionate industry professional dedicated to transferring cutting edge industry focused innovations and trends while highlighting the men and women who keep the world moving. So put on your hard hat, grab your work boots, and let's get our


I once again welcome to Industrial Talk the number one industrial related podcast in the universe that celebrates industry professionals. All around the world. You are bold, you are brave, you dare greatly. you innovate. You solve problems, you collaborate, and bottom line, you're making the world a better place. That's why we celebrate you on Industrial Talk. We are broadcasting on site, O M G Object Management Group, Q1 meeting here in Reston, Virginia. And it is a collection of problem solvers. People who are just passionate about solving those problems to make our lives better. And we don't even know just telling you right now, we just fell down. In a hot seat. We have a gentleman by the name of Brian Schmidt. Northrop Grumman is the company. Let's get a girl racket. How you doing? Good.


How are you Scott?


No complaints. He wouldn't listen to me anyway. My wife doesn't listen to me. Blows me off. But no, you haven't a good, good meeting?




It is good to see people roaming around. This is quite the quite the spot. Do you live near here? I


do not. I live in Buffalo New York. Oh, cheese. Awesome place. Yeah, you're going?


I don't hear many people to hang out with that. I gotta tell you. I do want to go there. Should Bills fan


isn't everybody? Yes, I


am. All right. Yes,


I am. No born born and raised Bills fan. Yeah, kidding.


So that's your hometown. You know? It's colder.


It does. It's a little cold there right now. We've had the crazy weather just like everyone else, but it's a little chilly right now.


It's it is what it is. All right. For the listeners out there. Brian, give us a little background on who you are.


Sure. My name is Brian Schmidt. I am a Chief Engineer and Technical Fellow with Northrup Grumman corporation in the Mission Systems sector. I've been there for almost 23 years now. So it's been a really great yeah. Great career. Out of school, straight out of school. Yes. Yes. Summer Intern before those 23 years too. So


that's so cool. You don't hear many people. No, no.


But it's it's been? It's been great. So I've loved almost every minute, every minute. Yeah.


Every minute so don't even don't take notes. He does sit sometimes. Taking notes. Okay, for your hearing. OMG. How long have you been part of a moment? Oh, gee. Oh,


boy. So not as long so year and a half. I want to say yeah, not long at all. Not long at all. Look


at you've been elevated to what? Chief? Pooh bah. Digital Twin.


Something like that. I like that. You like to make it official now? Chief


Poupon? Yeah, he's already head roll with it. We're,


we're Fez. And I'm gonna do that. Yeah.


Okay. I am. I'm a no nonsense guy. But I wear this Fez. So no. Nonsense guy. So what does that entail? What do you what are we talking about when we start talking about your role in the Digital Twin Consortium? Sure.


So I am a new co chair of the aerospace and defense working group. So besides being a member, and being able to take part in these meetings, and learn from other experts in the field, and interact with them, then as a chair of this aerospace and defense working group, it's then having these every other week meetings, virtual meetings with other members of our industry, it's my industry that


demanding, like every other week,


it's not demanding. No, it's fun. It is. No, it is because, again, I'm interacting with colleagues, you know, we're all facing we may be competitive mates at times. Yeah, we could be competitors. We're teammates. We work together and compete different times. But you know, we're all working towards the same goals, supporting our warfighters supporting defense, and thus, we encounter the same challenges. So it's great to have that interaction.


So how does how does this this whole Digital Twin, how does it how is it being used what what's, why is it important? Sure.


So it's important in a lot of ways, it's allowing us to make more us and our customers make more informed data driven decisions. So of course, we always, you know, we've always done, done the best, you know, cutting edge work. But being able to leverage Digital Twins allows us to, you know, look back, take a model of a system, a thing, and then maybe run some tests on it based on, you know, some simulations, or simulate what might be. And that's where I get excited, you know, be able to try and push the envelope defined possible by leveraging these models, and then maybe with some tweaks, some twists, and truly understand, you know, besides just me having a great idea, instead of being able to apply it, test it, run that simulation and find out was my idea really that great? Was it good? Was it bad? Could it be better? And be able to iterate on that many times over now? We're just leveraging compute power?


Yes, exactly. That's a whole other conversation, that whole compute power? Absolutely. We'll leave that for another time. We won't touch that right now. But we, it all hinges upon data that does and clean data are good data? Or how do you take how do you take a system that's been around forever? And then try to normalize the data, make it scrubbed, and then be able to apply a Digital Twin type of model to it? Yeah,


that's a it's it's a challenge. So I can't say that I have the answer. But that's a, that's a challenge that, again, we talked about in that aerospace and defense working group. It's a it's a challenge of all of our, all of our partners in this in this working group. We're talking about an industry day, putting together an industry day and data has been the different variations of it. But the topic that we've been considering, because it is a challenge, there's so much to it, and it is a broad topic.


Yeah. And if you're running simulations, you're using data, you're using historical data. And, and much of the data resides in various disconnected possible systems, that one's over here, this one's over there, and so on and, and trying to, to wrangle that in and so that you have that proper picture of what's taking place to run those simulations. I mean, that's, that's what that's all part of the organization. Right? And just defining what that might look like. Yes,


it absolutely is. And that's where I think, too, you know, with Digital Twin Consortium, you know, again, I'm in this aerospace and defense working group, but all of the working groups of the industries face those same challenges. So again, that's the power of, you know, being able to be a part of this is we can all collaborate, again, go down to the working group level, but again, we're all sharing in those same challenges and being able to leverage those Digital Twin capabilities. They're all you know, they're broad enough, then we leverage them, bring them into our specific area.


Okay, so this is all great. This is all dandy and you're a part of this organization and you're the grand Pooh Bah, which is always it's always good to have that conversation with the Grand Poobah. But the reality is, is that where do you see it going? What we're still at the beginning, we're still we're still trying to find our way are we? Or are is it mature enough to say, Okay, where were we at? No, I


would still say it's, it's kind of a new frontier. So it's absolutely being leveraged. Again, every industry is touching on it. Automotive has done a tremendous amount with it. Aerospace has done a lot with it, space has done a lot. But there's still so much more because again, we don't have the answers to all of these challenges. So there's still the challenges out there that we're working towards, we're leaning forward, as we work in these working groups, to collaborate and try to come up with those new ways, you know, how can we achieve that new goal?


With that said, you just sort of skirted upon it, what are some of the challenges that you're seeing with with this brave new world outside of the fact that everything is really fast? Outside of the speed? And everybody? You know, talk to us about that? Sure. So


I think, you know, speed is a big part of it. And that's where, you know, that's one of the areas that Digital Twins help in, you know, we can do more faster by doing it in a modeled sense of virtual sense. You mentioned data, you know, the, I would say even the and it came up in one of the earlier talks today one of the briefings interoperability So, and by that just meaning, you know, hey, you've got this Digital Twin now it's got to do Do something with it. Well, what do I need to be able to do something with it? You know, I need to connect it to things. I need data, it keeps coming back to data. But yeah, so there again, it's, it's just those challenges on how we can properly use it and confidently use it and how our customers can to our customers. Trust absolute Absolutely.


What have you guys chirped upon? Cyber, the cyber security side and, and keep it. I mean, because if you correct me if I'm wrong, if you do this, right, if you if you create that, that your twin, and you're able to do and run simulations, and you're able to really leverage that powerful solution. So that your your optimize your business, your real the real world is optimized. Protecting that is is paramount. Paramount, because there's a lot of work and effort that has been invested in that that model.


And there you go. So there's another you just hit one of the challenges I didn't talk about. So did absolutely, that is one topic we just talked about in our working group roundtable. And it continues to be talked about, it's the same, you know, I would say the same except it's the new frontier of it. Same thing, when you know, hey, you put a product out there, you worry that someone else might, you know, do something with it, figure out some some of your magic. It's the same thing with the Digital Twins. And now, you know, it's maybe even spelled out a little bit more. So it's even more important to protect that. Protect the data that goes into it and the data that comes out of it. So trustworthiness and security cyber is it's a big part, especially in our again, our aerospace and defense working group. That's what we just talked about,


outside of the many benefits that I've seen one of the benefits in correct me if I'm wrong. I'm just real bullish on, on the ability to simulate and, and do what ifs, like and and then being able to translate that what if that scenario into the physical world. So I know that my operations in the manufacturing world, whatever it is, is optimized, knowing that I'm getting predictable results based off of good data. But being able to know that I'm, you know, there's the inefficiencies, I've worked through those now that's optimized, that's money in my pocket.


Absolutely. And that's where, again, a lot of the value comes in through using Digital Twins, you know, whether it be a Digital Twin of your, again, your manufacturing line, you know, making sure that I'm doing not only the you know, yes, it's going to produce the right thing, or it's going to answer the question. But it's also going to do in the most efficient way possible, because money time you mentioned everything's going faster, so it's got to be efficient. And that's where the Digital Twins being involved in simulation, that's where you can really gain a tremendous amount of value.


See, the other areas is trying to find that one individual or that company that that that team member, let's say I'm a, I'm a I'm a smaller company, and I don't have smart people like Northrop Grumman at my disposal. It's been me and I. And yet, I want to take advantage of that, I find that there's a, there appears to be an opportunity for professionals to help with that segment of the marketplace to say, this is the right thing to do executive, SEO, you know, big cheese, this is it, you know, and then be able to do it in an effective way. Will the or will the results of the or the Digital Twin Consortium and the working groups come up with a sort of hate to say it? Would you guys have a periodic table? Let's put it that way. I just realized that it's true. I was gonna say roadmap, but you have a periodic table. So it's all laid out?


It is. And that's I was gonna say that the Digital Twin Consortium, you know, that's its existence. That's why it's here. Yeah. Also to, you know, help lean forward and you know, maybe put up some guardrails, but to connect people so you can connect with other folks that are doing the work. There are artifacts, you mentioned, the periodic table. So there it is. And I think they were talking about an Excel spreadsheet version of it that one of the members did, it's going to be made available. So you know, now it's searchable. This this Excel spreadsheets, a tool that helps you navigate it. So yes, that's what you can get as being part of this Consortium.


You got to admit that sort of bristles when somebody says, now it's in an Excel spreadsheet, is it Are we walking backwards on this? Is that just part of the data challenges that we face All right. So with that said, you guys meet while of course, you may guess but you also meeting every other week and Sonia is still talking about all of the things. That gives me a lot of confidence. Absolutely.


Oh, it's, yeah, we're regularly meeting. So yes, like right now the, the entire, you know, Consortium is is here together, there's the individual working groups just met and had their own roundtable sessions face to face, which always, that adds some value, too. But then yes, virtually meeting every other week so that we can keep progressing, produce white papers as a white paper coming out from the aerospace and defense working group. I know some others do too. So yeah,


you guys yell at each other? No, but it


gets it gets, it gets exciting because you do you have differing opinions. So they're folks, you know, pushing on each other. But right, that's what generates new thought. That's what will advance this capability.


I too. Again, it's way above my paygrade. Just FYI, I get to just sit by the fire and soak it up. I'm a big sponge now. Brian, how do people get a hold on? What is the best way?


Sure via I would say in this respect, probably via LinkedIn, you can find me on LinkedIn or again through the Digital Twin Consortium. So there


it is, you regret that conversation was fun. All right, listeners, we are broadcasting from the old GQ one, as you can tell, meeting here in Reston, Virginia. And it is it's just got a lot of energy as a lot of fun. A lot of great people like Brian, who are just passionate about solving problems. All right, we're gonna have all the contact information for Brian out on Industrial Talk. So stay tuned, we will be right back.


You're listening to the Industrial Talk Podcast Network.


All right, we have two call to actions, what you need to be a part of the Digital Twin Consortium. They're doing great things over there. It is a must. Because we are all about that. Education, collaboration, and innovation. And if you're not on this digital journey, if you're not researching and educating yourself, you're going to be left behind I'm just telling you right now, the next call to action, of course is reached out to Brian. He's got mad skills. And of course, he's co chair of the Digital Twin Consortium. CO grand Pooh bah. That's what we're gonna call it. Anyway. Those are the two things if you want to. Now again, you want to amplify your voice go out to Industrial Talk, if you want to be able to collaborate with a lot of these individuals such as Brian, go out to Industrial Talk. It's all there. It's all open. We want you to succeed. That's why Industrial Talk is here. It is here for you industrial professionals and if you want to connect with me, that's where you do it out on Industrial All right, be bold, be brave, dare greatly hang out with Brian, change the world. We're going to have another great conversation shortly. So stay tuned.



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