Interview with Professor Gualtiero Fantoni, ASSETs+ Project Coordinator
Short description of ASSETs+ and goals of the Partnership
Industry 4.0, business digitalisation, Artificial Intelligence and
Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) are increasingly taking centre stage, not as buzzwords but as pillars for innovation in all business sectors at a global level. The Defence sector is no exception.
Accordingly, all players involved in this field are experiencing evolution in both business processes and human resources: the former concerning technological advancements; the latter regarding the skills needed to exploit such technologies properly.
Human resources need to possess or develop new knowledge, abilities, and competences to help companies complete the quantum leap expected from the “fourth industrial revolution”.
ASSETs+ project aspires to build a sustainable human resources supply chain that allows defence sector companies to innovate by both attracting highly-skilled young workers and upskilling their employees thanks to customized, complementary education & training programs addressing three main technologies: Robotics&AI, C4ISTAR, and Cybersecurity.
As EO4GEO, ASSETs+ aims to bridge the skills gap between education and industry: which solutions are you developing?
We took inspiration from the methodological approach and in particular from the BoK (Body of Knowledge) used in EO4GEO since it allows to systematize the entire Body of Knowledge, definitions and relationships among concepts. This provides a common lexicon to the participants of the project and newcomers. It also represents a fantastic tool for designing training courses for teachers and a powerful synthetic view for students.
Which difficulties is your industry finding in attracting young students? How are you trying to solve this problem?
The problem facing the European Defence industry is twofold: (i) it is experiencing difficulty in finding the necessary skills to sustain its leadership, competitiveness and sustainability in the medium-to-long-term; (ii) ageing staff and difficulties in engaging and keeping young professionals are preventing the sector from reshaping company capabilities and creating new, attractive job opportunities for talented workers of any age.
The Defence sector has not always been considered so attractive due to many prejudices but it represents a great working and growing opportunities for our students since they can work with the more advanced technologies, can push them to their limits and learn a lot in a very international and multidisciplinary environment. We are working to explode the myths and biases around the Defence sector and designing new courses and challenges that can attract students’ attention.
Could you propose an example of how EO4GEO and ASSETs+ can collaborate?
Many are the points in common between the two projects: methodological, thematic, and training to cite a few.
Methods. As said above, the EO4GEO approach to the Body of Knowledge has been a reference for ASSETs+ but we interpreted with the use of new tools and in particular by using Natural Language Processing algorithms that allow us to speed up the building of the Body of Knowledge and the relationships among its items. Interchanges between the two groups are highly desirable and they already started in early 2021.
Technology. Space images are very useful for Defence purposes and we can create common scenarios and case studies or data set to let our students play with them. EO4GEO and ASSETs+ could collaborate by sharing the sectoral know-how, putting in common the areas of expertise (e.g. AI on Satellite Images).
Training. ASSETs+ work on problem&project based learning will benefit from such knowledge and competence sharing. Moreover, the ASSETs+ project finds useful tools already developed in EO4GEO such as the Tools for professionals and for teachers, a new source of inspiration for us and another field where to find collaboration.