- Openness gives better products

KTH and Saab have a mutual interest – to develop the software of the future. This is the purpose of the cooperation project CASTOR, a software technology research centre at KTH.

At CASTOR, research meets industry to achieve outstanding research in software technology. KTH runs the project jointly with Saab and Ericsson.

– The knowledge transfer goes both ways. We can look at the future together, says Stefan Hagdahl, Production Manager at Saab and co-opted Board Member of CASTOR.

Saab’s hope is that the collaboration in CASTOR will make it easier to recruit engineers from KTH.

– Software is increasingly complex, and this puts pressure on Saab’s need to recruit competent staff. We need to hire people with the right education. Preferably the younger generation who ingested software with their baby food.

Another objective is to increase the number of industrial PhD students.

– Industrial PhD students are the smartest way to create long-term, sustainable cooperation between industry and academia. We need frontier people who can move between the two environments and communicate ideas and knowledge. PhD students can also contribute expert knowledge and sift through materials, says Stefan Hagdahl.

PhD students can be individuals who work in the industry or newly-qualified civil engineers. Stefan Hagdahl was an industrial PhD student at KTH.

– It’s a challenging role, because in academia the methods and, in particular, the language used are partly different. But you soon grow closer to each other and understand each other’s expectations.

Saab has a lot to gain from progress in software research. They use software in airplanes, U-boats, radar in the air and on land, networks, calculation platforms and cable systems. A software system can consist of millions of rows of code. A human cannot identify all the errors and vulnerabilities.

The challenge is to automate parts of program development and to make it cost effective. We need help from KTH and the research community to identify the best methods and technologies for this, says Stefan Hagdahl.

Cyber security is a pertinent issue for Saab.

We work strategically to make products less vulnerable even to well-resourced opponents. A number of persons in the CASTOR team are very skilled at this. Cyber security and software development are important for society in general and for industries and authorities in particular. We welcome more cooperation partners at CASTOR, preferably from new industries, indeed why not the gaming industry?

From KTH’s point of view, CASTOR makes software research more comprehensive and visible. The idea is that software technology based on open source code will be spread. This appeals to Saab as well and does not create a conflict for the company even though they produce for the defence industry, says Stefan Hagdahl.

The software will become available to everyone through various platforms. Everything we do should be transparent, because we believe transparency improves our products. Open source code improves security because the software is illuminated from several perspectives. Obviously, the final form of the software products does not become public knowledge, says Stefan Hagdahl.

Text: Ann Patmalnieks
Photographer: Fredrik Persson