Marshmallows and Automated Kitchens – School for Talents meets Bosch

July 11, 2022

On 11 July, our 2022 cohort met with Dr. Adrian Raisch, Model-Based Systems Engineer and Dr. Kevin Schmidt, Research Engineer from the company Bosch to discuss “Systems and the Industrial Perspective” in a hands-on workshop at frei[raum] on Campus Vaihingen. If you are curious to find out what marshmallows and automated kitchens have in common, let us fill you in.

We began our workshop day with a group exercise. The first challenge of the day was playful, but definitely not simple. Four teams competed against each other in trying to build the highest “marshmallow tower” within a limited amount of time and just three tools at their disposal: thread, tape and spaghetti. The task required our participants to make quick decisions within their teams, to communicate precisely and to execute ideas efficiently while paying attention to the limited resources available to them – a great warm-up for the much bigger task waiting for them later in the day.

In order to receive input for the central task of the day – prototyping an automated kitchen – our workshop hosts Adrian and Kevin shared their input on “distributed systems” and “model-based systems engineering” from the perspective of Bosch.

Within the field of reliable distributed systems, Bosch Research is developing solutions to address topics like “infrastructure-assisted automated driving” or the “Factory of the Future” while keeping safety, security, and real-time capability of classic embedded technologies within scope. We need modern, more flexible IT technologies to build such applications efficiently and cost-effectively. The question Bosch Research works on therefore is "How can we enhance modern IT technologies with the virtues of the embedded world to build reliable distributed systems?"
All of these systems are becoming more and more complex. This is why proper methods and tools for dealing with this complexity during product development are necessary. An example are Bosch’s pre-integrated system solutions for electric vehicles. To enable the underlying cross-domain development, model-based systems engineering addresses questions regarding a holistic development for the overall system along the v-model of the systems development lifecycle.

Thus prepared, our talents set out to design four different parts that are relevant in planning an automated kitchen: a cleaning unit, a cutting and shredding unit, a storage and a cooking unit. Guiding questions our participants discussed were for example how these four kitchen units would communicate with each other. What kind of logic do we need to apply when setting up the order of the units? Why is it important to think about whether to wash strawberries before or after storage and how do we make sure to design workflows in ways that make them user-friendly and centered on actual needs of the users we have in mind for our products? The results our four teams came up with were impressive – not only in light of the relatively short amount of time in which they produced results, but also in light of the attention to detail and scope of the work done.  

“The exercise was a fun, interactive approach towards the complexity of Systems Engineering, and the group work highlighted the issues of communication/synchronization in a distributed system.” (Participant feedback)

 “We need interdisciplinary knowledge for interdisciplinary challenges.” (Participant feedback)

A big thank you to Adrian and Kevin for sharing their time and expertise, and to their colleague Anna Luff for helping us organize this event within the University of Stuttgart’s collaboration with Bosch.

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