Irish space industry start-up Nitrexo has announced the launch of their European-wide Digital Engineer® product, backed by the European Space Agency. Developed in response to an ESA call for COVID-related projects, Digital Engineer® is an Artificial Intelligence smart software robot (smartbot) designed for distributed learning and working environments. The project won €500,000 in support from the ESA in space-based funding to bridge the gap between engineering education and industry.

“The last year has changed not only how and where we work, but also how and where we learn,” explained Nitrexo CEO Yannick Melameka. “Students in the space industry can use Digital Engineer® to consult an expert engineering knowledge base in seconds via the AI chatbot and smart speaker. Both students and professionals can ask Digital Engineer® to execute standard tasks for them, and they can also teach the Digital Engineer® new skills, so the AI becomes smarter and faster for each project iteration. It’s like having a lab partner, tutor, and study buddy for engineers all in one.” 

Based at National Space Centre’s (NSC) Space Campus in Cork, Nitrexo is leading a consortium with both NSC and German software company L-One Systems to develop and deliver the Digital Engineer® product to market over the next 9 months. 

“We’re excited to be part of the Digital Engineer® project launch on World Innovation Day,” commented Bruce Hannah, CTO of National Space Centre. “Partnering individual engineers with AI smartbots is the kind of innovation that multiplies human potential and allows democratization of expertise. Digital Engineer® has the potential to revolutionise the engineering academic environment.”

The AI is currently beginning trials at four universities across Ireland, Belgium, Spain and the UK. It will be initially offered to colleges and universities providing space engineering studies to become a “study buddy” to students and reduce lab and research centre costs. Nitrexo is currently scouting partners for the next phase of trials. 

Fiona Nic Riabhaigh

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