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Now in its 31st year, the prostep ivip Symposium has lost none of its appeal. With 665 participants in Munich on April 10 and 11, there were again slightly more than last year in Stuttgart. However, the large growth figures from before the pandemic were not reached. The motto: “Digital Engineering – Ready For Seemless Collaboration”. Meetings and exchanges with international experts from the automotive industry and aircraft construction, and of course with university research and software providers of all kinds – the triad of the prostep ivip association works at a high level.

Almost 100 speakers gave presentations on around 50 topics on the various stages of the MOC in the north-east of Munich, where the symposium was held this year. The accompanying exhibition was once again fully booked, with eight of the 33 exhibitors taking advantage of the opportunity to have a double stand. As was announced on the second day, next year’s event will take place in Berlin at the BCC in the immediate vicinity of Alexanderplatz on May 13 and 14.

Overall, the programme of what is probably the largest vendor-independent event on engineering, PLM and industrial digitalization followed a concept that relies less and less on plenary lectures such as the two keynotes by this year’s main sponsors BMW and PTC, but increasingly on smaller parallel sessions with lectures and workshops.

Board member Philip Wibbing opens this year’s symposium. (Photo Sendler)

An innovation from last year did not really prove to be a highlight in 2024 either. In the Expert Corners, keynote speakers were joined by representatives from various member companies on the main stage at the same time. However, neither the general topics nor the short statements by the participants offered any real added value. It would perhaps be better to use such time with contributions from experts from other industries or research areas.

The AI experts (from left): Prof. Rainer Stark, TU Berlin, Uwe Kloss, RLE, and Dr. Martin Strietzel, PROSTEP AG. (Photo Sendler)

In contrast, the discussion on the topic of AI in engineering, which had already proven its explosive nature last year with a packed room and very lively debate, was once again coming too short. While a subsequent workshop with representatives from Microsoft, PTC, Accenture and others on Microsoft Copilot etc. lasted one and a half hours, the discussion between participants and three proven AI experts had to make do with a much too short 35 minutes. Uwe Kloss, Head of Digital Engineering at RLE, Prof. Rainer Stark from TU Berlin and Dr. Martin Strietzel from PROSTEP were really good people to talk to.

The suggestion that the association could set up a pool of engineering data for member companies had already been put forward at the 2023 symposium on the subject of AI. It is well known that the biggest problem with the use of industrial AI is that sensitive engineering data is not freely available on a massive scale like Wikipedia or Google customer data. Especially not digital twin models.

There has also been a survey on this with a good level of participation in the association, but so far no company has agreed to contribute data itself. Rather, individual large companies seem to prefer to use their huge data reserves exclusively themselves.

The association could actually play a very important role here. For example, by organizing an engineering-specific data space with the International Data Spaces Association (IDSA). This would give all parties involved the security of knowing that they remain sovereign over their data and that it is technically guaranteed that nothing can happen to the data that could harm the data owners.

The immense variety of topics once again made it difficult to fit everything of interest into a separate plan among the sessions taking place at the same time. Gaia-X and Catena-X, MBSE and systems lifecycle management, data utilization for new business models – perhaps it would be worth considering concentrating on fewer topics and providing even more space for exchange.

The prostep ivip association continues to play a major role for the automotive and aircraft industry and a number of companies in other sectors, and of course for providers of industrial software and  for research institutes.

It could lend even more weight to this role – especially in times of AI, model-based systems engineering and increasing regulation of the manufacturing industry in the direction of sustainability – and probably increase its attractiveness even further.

The new guided tours to exhibitors during the break were very popular. (Photo Sendler)