Sham Ahmed, managing director of MathWorks UK tells Electronics Weekly about how the company’s engineering analysis software is being used to address risk in financial organisations, and he talks about the importance of encouraging a new generation of engineers.
“Whilst maintaining our support for aerospace and defence we are also reacting to the resurgence of the automotive and finance industries,” says Ahmed.
“Many financial organisations have re-tooled and re-focussed their risk management strategies to meet new and fast evolving regulations, such as BASEL II and III, Solvency II, and UCITS IV.”
According to Ahmed, the firm’s MATLAB tools provide risk managers with customisable scenario generation, forecasting and stress testing tools that enable risk managers to demonstrate concepts and strategies to regulators and to respond rapidly to new market situations.
“What’s more, they’re evolving their development processes along the lines of engineering Model-Based Design, using techniques such as component generation and code generation to take concepts and strategies directly into production rather than re-coding, allowing developers to focus on frameworks rather than on code translation,” says Ahmed.
“Hedge funds have been conducting agile quantitative development for years, hence their greater ability to respond to immediate events such as “flash crashes”, but investment banks are fast catching up as they realise they need agility to respond to fast-changing markets rather than spend time manually rebuilding complex in-house libraries,” he adds.
One important area of development has been adoption of parallel computing, on grids, in clouds, on multicores and even GPUs to enable faster more comprehensive analysis and simulations.
“Asset managers, for instance, who used to run portfolio and risk reports overnight, can now use MATLAB in parallel computing mode to run them in minutes; economists can run macro-economic forecasts that once took weeks in hours, transforming their ability to prepare for crucial policy-informing reports, enabling analyses and forecasts to be re-run on demand if policy-makers want to strategise new economic scenarios, for example, an economic stimulus, apply “judgement” and facilitate “regime switches,” says Ahmed.
What advances has Model-Based Design enabled in the engineering world?
“Through Model-Based Design cars have become more fuel-efficient, aircraft more agile and power distribution systems more energy efficient,” points out Ahmed.
“Model-Based Design enables engineers to design and simulate complex, multi-domain systems. Through this simulation-based approach engineers can explore new designs and new ideas within a sufficiently realistic model of the system without incurring any manufacturing or material costs.” he adds.
“Validation of requirements, practical testing and verification is integrated into the design cycle rather than being an end-of-project process, which helps ensure the design is optimised and errors are identified early, leading to cost savings, shorter development cycles and higher quality.
“Design of hybrid vehicles, for example, would be significantly (perhaps prohibitively) more expensive during the production period if developed using traditional methodologies, due to the continuous prototyping,” says Ahmed.
What does the UK/Europe need to do to ensure it retains a leading position in the global market?
“Our initiatives in education are crucial to make sure that the engineering, maths and physics graduates are ready to be immediately productive with advanced design tools. This will ensure that both UK and European graduates are competitive with those from other parts of the world,” says Ahmed.
“It also means that UK businesses can hire people who will impact the bottom line from day one and can revitalise the business with new ideas.
“To do this, we need to widen the level of engagement in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects to tap into a broader talent pool.
“Almost 60% of organisations who require STEM skilled candidates experience difficulties in recruiting staff. Add to this the fact that the number of science and technology graduates has fallen by 15% over the past ten years (cited from BLOODHOUND SSC) and the education gap becomes painfully apparent. It is our responsibility to ensure that future engineers are given the education and the tools they need to succeed and contribute in shaping our world,” adds Ahmed.
How does MathWorks support advanced education in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths)? How is MathWorks helping to address the challenges facing technical education?
“MathWorks tools are used in 140 UK universities and more than one million students and faculty worldwide have access to MathWorks tools. We actively work with universities to help them enhance their curriculum and student learning through the use of MATLAB & Simulink. We also provide financial support for selected academic research projects, support student competition programs, offer fully-funded PhD student scholarships, have a library of downloadable classroom resources and run an active student internship programme,” says Ahmed.
Ahmed believes it is important to motivate and educate the next generation of scientists, engineers and mathematicians to take on the new challenges facing engineering in the UK.
“This will have an increasing focus on software, modelling & simulation, and intelligent algorithm development. One of the ways we are helping to do this is through our support of the BLOODHOUND Project which aims to inspire young people to take on STEM subjects by developing a land speed record car capable of travelling at 1,000mph,” says Ahmed.