30.01.2023 IT Farvest decrypt Interview IT

ILNAS & the University of Luxembourg-SnT launch a new research programme in the ICT, aerospace and construction sectors

mohammed alswaitti ilnas anec research programme
© ILNAS

The University of Luxembourg-SnT and ILNAS have launched a new research programme entitled “Technical Standardisation for Trustworthy ICT, Aerospace, and Construction” intending to deliver cutting-edge scientific research while considering the good practices and standards to increase trustworthiness in each of the three sectors. Within this scope, Postdoctoral researcher Mohammed Alswaitti agreed to elaborate on the programme’s progress so far, and also discuss the launch of the second edition of the MTECH Master programme next February.

ILNAS and the University of Luxembourg have launched a new research programme entitled “Technical Standardisation for Trustworthy ICT, Aerospace, and Construction” (2021-2024). Could you tell us more about this project, and its progress since its start last year?

The research programme builds on a prior successful collaboration between the University of Luxembourg-SnT and ILNAS on the first research programme “Technical Standardisation for Trusted Use in the Field of Smart ICT.” This first initiative is now broadened with the new research programme to encompass three research pillars: ICT, Aerospace, and Construction. The cooperation intends to incentivise the discovery of cutting-edge scientific research gaps in each area by taking into account the good practices and standards that lead to increased trustworthiness in each domain-specific ecosystem.

Furthermore, the programme research findings, outputs, and deliverables will contribute to raising awareness of the value of technical standards in the community, including individuals and industries, which can in turn then be leveraged to bring them to the market. The findings will also aid in identifying new technical standardisation needs, thus driving an impulse for participation in standards development with a view towards having research results contribute to standard good pratices. For the time being, each pillar has a PhD student assigned to it where promising research gaps have been identified in each domain. Some of the preliminary ideas have been shared publicly, through events organized by ILNAS, such as the “Space & Technical Standardization” Workshop 2022 and the “World Standards Day 2022”. Further planning includes deliverables such as scientific publications and white papers.

As its name implies, this new programme focuses on three sectors: ICT, Construction, and Aerospace. Why focus on these three?

The research programme is consciously sector-oriented and targets three highly relevant growth sectors for Luxembourg’s economy, in line with the National Standardization Strategy 2020-2030. The economic power of these three domains is strongly influenced by characteristics related to trustworthiness, security, and privacy, all major themes in technical standardisation. Consequently, we are focusing on the research gaps we have identified in these three sectors and how standards can help in enhancing trust in each of them.

The European Union acknowledges standardisation as a real strategic tool in terms of innovation and research. Could you explain which advantages it offers?

Indeed, according to “An EU Standardisation Strategy”, recently published by the European Commission, the development of the EU Single Market and the promotion of European competitiveness have been significantly aided by standards. For example, they support innovation, lower costs, increase safety, and assure the compatibility of goods and services for producers. They can also help researchers get their research and innovation proposals (e.g.: Horizon Europe) accepted since standards are valued as project outcomes.

Concretely, from the point of view of our research programme, standardisation plays an important role from two perspectives. From one side, it helps us in identifying current “hot” topics of standardisation, that reflects market needs, and we can use this knowledge to orient our research towards real-world solutions while taking into account the good practices set in technical standards. From the other side, we expect to use our research results to influence standards, with the ultimate goal to have a positive impact for the market. Contributing to standards as researchers allows us to have direct feedback from the industry on our research and to contribute in the advancement of the state of the art of the technologies we are working on. We are still at the beginning of the research programme but we have already identified some research gaps in our areas of work. These gaps could also represent new opportunities for the development of standards answering certain market needs.

Concretely, how does the research programme contribute to the “Luxembourg standardization strategy 2020-2030”?

This research programme allows for common work to accomplish the individual missions and strategies of the partners. On the one hand, for ILNAS, it plays a central role in Pillar IV of the National Standardization Strategy 2020-2030 “Development of research and education about standardization” and the third project “Supporting and strengthening the Education about Standardization and the related research activities” of the technical standardisation policies implemented by ILNAS for all three sectors. On the other hand, the University of Luxembourg has three main targets: research, education and societal impact. The impact on society is addressed by working with ILNAS through this research programme and related educational activities.

ILNAS, in collaboration with the University of Luxembourg and the Chambre des Salariés (CSL), will launch a second class of the Master MTECH (Mastering Smart ICT, standardisation and digital trust for enabling next generation of ICT solutions) next February. Could you develop on how this and the research programme are complementary?

The Master MTECH concept is a step forward in terms of serving real-world and industrial experiences with participants on a silver platter, and mixing in the role that technical standards play. On the one hand, it provides students with a foundation of knowledge in themes reflecting current challenges and those at the cutting edge of Smart ICT, and on the other hand, it catalyzes growth in the ICT industry by offering practical examples and case studies, during their internship in collaboration with their company, illustrating the use of technical standardisation as a tool to give common technical language, build trust, and foster effectiveness in Smart ICT.

Both the research programme and the Master MTECH programme aim to transform smart secure ICT knowledge directly into technical innovation via the competitive and inventive tool of technical standardisation to various audience segments. Further, the Master’s degree programme is also enriched by the results of the common research activities lead by the University of Luxembourg-SnT and ILNAS.