MSI Turkey – Dr. Tarık ÖĞÜT, Chairman of the Board of Directors of FİGES – “Turkey has now become a country that produces technology, and there is no going back.”

“Turkey has now become a country that produces technology, and there is no going back.” 

During MATLAB EXPO 2018 Turkey we had the opportunity speak briefly with Dr. Tarık Öğüt, Chairman of the Board of Directors of FİGES, which is one of the first companies that comes to mind when talking about R&D in Turkey. Dr. Öğüt enlightened us about recent developments in engineering software (mainly MATLAB), explaining how they worked for the benefit of Turkey. 

MSI TDR: Mr. Öğüt, you’ve played a prominent role in the introduction, promotion and popularisation of engineering software in Turkey. When you compare the features of the software that you first introduced to Turkey with those of MATLAB today, what points stand out? What level of development does MATLAB represent?

Dr. Tarık ÖĞÜT: The motivation behind the development of MATLAB software can be traced back to the “Eigenvalue Equations” that could not be calculated analytically back in the 1970s. This is based on matrix algebra. In the 1980s and 1990s, the MATLAB software was more of a mathematics library that allowed you to do matrix operations and solve differential equations. With the development of the Simulink module in the early 2000s, it was possible to create a functional model of a technical system using block diagrams, and after obtaining the system model, controlling a system within the framework of a given algorithm – i.e. developing a controller – was greatly facilitated. In recent years, features such as Financial Risk, Optimisation, Artificial Intelligence, Deep Learning and Internet of Things have been incorporated into the software system, and as a result, MATLAB has become the “go to” software tool within almost all sectors.

MSI TDR: How does the use of MATLAB add value to the Turkish defence and aerospace sector, and what can it provide for the sector in the future?

Dr. Tarık ÖĞÜT: Recent years have seen ongoing discussions of the technology within the military systems to be purchased from abroad. We hear phrases like “We’ll buy your system on the condition that you open the source code of the software to us” a lot. Nowadays, the most critical component of a helicopter, combat aircraft, air defence system, guided rocket, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) or a car is the control unit in which the embedded software operates. This is where the brain of the system resides, and it is not possible to understand the algorithms within it merely through reverse engineering. With MATLAB and Simulink, these most critical subsystems are being developed, and so the use of this software system is of critical importance both today and in the future.

MSI TDR: Can you tell us why you organised the MATLAB EXPO 2018 Turkey event, and what do you expect you will get out of it?

Dr. Tarık ÖĞÜT: MATLAB is used in almost all industries, with such leading players in the defence and aerospace sector as ASELSAN, Turkish Aerospace, ROKETSAN, HAVELSAN and Baykar Makina all developing their products using this software system. In addition, banks, including the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey, are trying to predict future financial trends by establishing mathematical models with MATLAB. Although these industries are very different, we can safely say that the users of this software system are mostly engineers or mathematicians. We thought bringing together this community of people together under one roof, even for a day, and allowing them to get to know one another and exchange ideas would result in a great synergy. Of course, I also believe that communicating the latest technological developments to this valuable community is another important benefit.

MSI TDR: How do you position Turkish engineers and Turkish firms among MATLAB users?

Dr. Tarık ÖĞÜT: In the geographical region in which we live, we can count the Russian Federation, Turkey and Israel as countries that produce technology. While Turkey was behind in terms of MATLAB usage 10 years ago, I’m now happy to say that in recent years, it has come to the forefront with its high rate of MATLAB usage. I believe that our universities have given a good account of themselves in terms of training human resources; and at the same time, our companies have passed the test in the application field. Turkey has now become a country that produces technology, and there is no going back.

MSI TDR: How can the use of MATLAB contribute to such challenging projects in the Turkish defence and aerospace sector as TF-X?

Dr. Tarık ÖĞÜT: Our TF-X national combat aircraft is a high-tech product. Today, product development takes place in a digital environment, and how the product will operate can be examined in a virtual environment, even in the concept stage. This allows potential errors in the product to be detected and corrected at the beginning of the development process. In this way, prototype tests, which are very costly, are minimised, and the product development process can be shortened significantly.

MSI TDR: The BuildUp Academy has opened a stand at the event. What can you say about the point achieved by this significant training project of FİGES?

Dr. Tarık ÖĞÜT: R&D and Product Development processes have specialised manpower at their heart. If there was no specialisation, it would never be possible to address the issues I have just mentioned.

When they start working in the R&D and Product Development departments of industrial companies, the young engineers who graduated from our universities have a process of orientation and integration that takes from around six months to a year, as it takes a certain amount of time to get to know the company they work for, its products and its philosophy. In addition, there are challenges such as learning product development techniques and tools, gaining experience, applying engineering simulations and interpreting the results correctly, designing and managing test processes that all R&D engineers must face. The BuildUp Academy established within our company prepares newly graduated engineers for the R&D aspect of the sector by providing them with training on these subjects. In this way, it is aimed that the adjustment period in their respective companies is shortened significantly, allowing our young engineers to work with high efficiency in the projects for which they are responsible. At the moment, we average around 20 R&D engineer graduations every month, following a three-month training, and by incorporating this department, we want to train more R&D engineers and to make a greater contribution to Turkey’s R&D adventure.

MSI TDR: In cooperation with ANOVA, FİGES established a joint venture company called NUMESYS and transferred the activities related to some of its software to the new company, although activities related to MATLAB continue to be carried out under FİGES. Can we say that there is a sweet competition between FİGES and NUMESYS?

Dr. Tarık ÖĞÜT: ANSYS software is a product of Finite Element Technologies, and at the heart of this product are physics and numerical mathematics. The software focuses on examining a part of a system by modelling it in a very detailed manner. Modelling an entire system with this technology may not be logical, as the analysis times on a computer will be very long, which is where MATLAB and Simulink step in, as system modelling tools that are based on numerical mathematics and physics. This method looks at the system as a whole and allows the modelling of a particular function of the system, with the goal being to model the entire system, not just details. When looked from this perspective, it is apparent that both methods are not rivals, but rather complementary to each other. There may be conflicts in some specific application areas, but these areas are largely neglectable. My personal belief is that these two technologies will become more integrated with each other every passing day.

MSI TDR: Is there anything you would like to add?

Dr. Tarık ÖĞÜT: MATLAB EXPO 2018 Turkey has been very popular and very successful, and I would like to thank our distinguished speakers and participants.

On behalf of our readers, we would like to thank Dr. Tarık Öğüt, Chairman of the Board of Directors of FİGES, for taking the time to answer our questions and for providing us with such valuable information.