Clas Jacobson, 
Chief Scientist for the United Technologies Systems & Controls Engineering, USA

by Clas Jacobson

The presence and importance of Cyber Physical Systems is intended as the orchestration of networked computational resources with multi-physics (e.g., mechanical, chemical, electrical) systems in industry cannot be overemphasized. The engineering problems faced daily is managing dynamics, time, and concurrency in heterogeneous (interconnected) systems where the amount and complexity of intelligence (the cyber part) is growing rapidly and where software implementations are a major portion of system design, validation and ultimately verification. Research and education in this field is of strategic importance for business for years to come. Industry and Government in United States have posed CPS at the center of the engineering research agenda since 2007 when the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) highlighted CPS as the “number one” Priority for Federal Investments in Networking and Information Technology). Since 2010, the European research and industrial community has focused on CPS as paradigms for the future of systems. Acatech (German National Academy of Science and Engineering) developed an Integrated Research Agenda for Cyber-Physical Systems published in 2011.

To witness the importance placed on CPS by US industry, UTC together with Applied Material, Global Foundries, IBM, Intel, Micron, Raytheon and Texas Instruments is participating in an important research initiative in the US under the DARPA-SRC-SIA Semiconductor Technology Advanced Research Network (STARnet): The TerraSwarm center ( which is one of the six centers sponsored by the program consists of nine universities, 92 students, 22 faculty researchers, and 19 industry associate personnel. TerraSwarm, headquartered at University of California at Berkeley, is addressing the huge potential—and associated risks—of pervasive integration of smart, networked sensors and actuators into our connected world. The center aims to enable the simple, reliable, and secure deployment of a multiplicity of advanced distributed sense and control applications on shared, massively distributed, heterogeneous, and mostly uncoordinated platforms through an open and universal systems architecture.

IBM and UTC are the founding members of another initiative: the industrial cyber-physical systems center (iCyPhy,, a research consortium built as a partnership between the University of California at Berkeley (UC Berkeley), the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), and the member companies. iCyPhy has been formed to identify and develop new engineering techniques that will make it easier to successfully build products and services that combine complex software, hardware and mechanical components. The iCyPhy team aims to identify repeatable, standardized and measurable processes to ensure high-performing systems, and to uncover new product development methods that can help companies reduce costs, increase reliability and innovate more quickly.

The interest demonstrated by industry in general is strong, but for UTC it is even stronger. United Technologies Corporation (UTC) is a global conglomerate with interest in Elevators (Otis) and Climate, Controls and Security, and in aerospace businesses (Pratt&Whitney gas turbine engines, Sikorsky rotorcraft and Aerospace Systems including air management, electric power distribution and landing systems). In addition to the research initiatives above, the UTC Institute for Advanced Systems Engineering at UConn with $10 million in planned investments, is a significant investment in educating the next generation of engineering leaders. The Institute focuses on methods for the design of CPS of interest to business such as aircraft, buildings and other highly engineered solutions that include numerous intelligent components and sub-systems. As we look to the future, this expertise will be crucial for engineers who want to design and create the most advanced products and solutions.

CPS are essential for the future of the system industry world-wide and collaboration at all levels, from practicing engineers to product architects, from tool makers to technology providers, from service to research, is necessary. Clas Jacobson is Chief Scientist for the United Technologies Systems & Controls Engineering, USA

Next issue: January 2018
Special theme:
Quantum Computing
Call for the next issue
Image ERCIM News 97 epub
This issue in ePub format
Get the latest issue to your desktop
RSS Feed