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LIVE from CAASE18: Why Engineers Should Care about Blockchain

Banking, finance, and insurance companies are looking closely at Blockchain, an emerging data encryption and recording system, but Dan Robles, founder of the Integrated Engineering Blockchain Consortium (IEBC), says “Blockchain will not and cannot realize its full potential until engineers get involved.”

This morning, Robles is one of the keynote speakers to open CAASE (Conference on Advancing Analysis & Simulation in Engineering, June 5-7, 2018 in Cleveland), cohosted by NAFEMS and DE.

Many of the project teams in the IP-sensitive industries (such as military and government sectors) are currently using encryption algorithms and IT-powered security features to protect their product data, but they may be overlooking the same potentials hidden in the technology most closely associated with cryptocurrencies.

At CAASE 18, Dan Robles discusses how engineers might use Blockchain in their workflow (image courtesy of IEBC).

At CAASE 18, Dan Robles discusses how engineers might use Blockchain in their workflow. Image courtesy of IEBC.

Hollywood and Blockchain

“Think of Blockchain like the screen credit that rolls at the end of movies,” he suggested. If someone, say a camera operator or script writer, wants to embellish or lie about his or her involvement in a project or work history, the person would need to find a way to corrupt the data that appears in each released and distributed copy of the movie where the project is referenced. This near-impossible task in itself functions as a form of deterrence.

“Blockchain makes the cost of corrupting the data far more costly than the benefits you get from it,” said Robles.

Blockchain is a registry network — a series of registries where data can be recorded. Therefore, corrupting the data would require not just breaching one registry but the entire series, which is designed to self-check itself at regular intervals.

Risk Management Potentials with Blockchain

Robles believes engineers can unlock the potentials for the technology if they think of it as a mechanism to record and manage the points of risk transfer — certain phases in the project where data ownership and responsibilities change hands.

In that sense, Blockchain makes a good contract guardian, where neither party can refute what’s imprinted in a series of registries (or blocks), controlled by others.

Metaphorically speaking, “The combination to open each locker is stored in another locker,” explained Robles. “Each combination can be used only once. And no two lockers can be opened at the same time.”

Such rules are difficult to implement and maintained by institutions and individuals, but easy to do for computers. Hence, the value of the chain as a safeguard for digital transactions.

Robles and his team plan to launch what they call “The first Blockchain for engineers, by engineers.” According to IEBC’s homepage, “The result will be a fundamentally more efficient global project delivery system capable of tackling the world’s most challenging problems.”

For more on this topic, please read June feature, “Engineering’s Link to Blockchain.”

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About Kenneth

Kenneth Wong has been a regular contributor to the CAD industry press since 2000, first an an editor, later as a columnist and freelance writer for various publications. During his nine-year tenure, he has closely followed the migration from 2D to 3D, the growth of PLM (product lifecycle management), and the impact of globalization on manufacturing. His writings have appeared in Cadalyst, Computer Graphics World, and Manufacturing Business Technology, among others.

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