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16.6 Million Research Network on Engineering Complex Software Intensive Systems for Automotive Systems

The Network on Engineering Complex Software Intensive Systems for Automotive Systems (NECSIS) was announced by Tony Clement, Minister of Industry, in October 2010. NECSIS is a $16.6-million national research network created to tackle the technological challenges related to the growing complexity of automotive software systems. Under this new university-industry R&D collaboration, General Motors of Canada Ltd and IBM Canada are mobilizing leading software engineers at seven Canadian universities and a Montreal research centre. NECSIS also includes the participation of Malina Software Corp, an Ottawa-based consultancy focused on advanced software engineering methods. From McGill University, Prof. L. Hendren, Prof. B. Pientka, Prof. M. Robillard, and Prof. H. Vangelhuve participate in this multi-institutional research network.

NECSIS will focus on the advancement of an emerging methodology called model driven engineering (MDE). MDE reduces the complexity of developing software by focusing on models and their relationships, reflected in the designs, code and documents that developers work with, enabling them to test and verify models even before the code exists. “Canada has long led the world in the highly advanced field of model driven engineering,” added Bran Selic, President and Founder of Malina Software Corp. “With decades-long expertise in this field, we are extremely pleased and proud to have the opportunity to contribute to this important initiative.”

Computer systems in vehicles are managing more and more operations and increasing in complexity. This adds up to tens of millions of lines of software code that must work flawlessly and seamlessly together, and achieving this is becoming increasingly challenging using current approaches to software development. The newest upper-end vehicles are expected to run 1GB of software. “In an era where billions of devices are being interconnected to enable intelligent decisions, the time is right to create and to innovate development processes using real-time navigational capabilities that will help build a smarter car,” said Bruce Ross, president, IBM Canada. “Together with our partners, IBM is proud to leverage our Canadian research capabilities to invest and to collaborate in this innovation effort as we collectively advance intelligent transportation in Canada.”

The size and complexity of software-intensive systems is growing rapidly and software for automotive systems embodies many of the challenges we face. Safety of computer systems in vehicles is particularly important as we strive to improve passenger safety and consumers show zero-tolerance for error. “As a leading supporter of collaborative research in Canada, we have helped build a strong automotive innovation network,” said Kevin Williams, president and managing director of GM of Canada. “NECSIS is a key initiative as we re-think the automobile and deploy innovative approaches to develop tomorrow’s technologies.”