Saturday, May 18, 2013

James T. Kirk, Plant Manager

If you think about it, the starship Enterprise is a plant (i.e. factory).

It's a plant that manufactures light-years.

Construction of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701 as depicted in Star Trek 2009

Kirk is the Plant Manager.

Spock is the Director of Technology.

McCoy is charge of EH&S.

Scotty is Director of Production (i.e. running the warp drive that produces all those light years).

And the SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) system is what they call the Enterprise's "Computer."

Nothing illustrates this better than this one scene from J.J. Abrams' 2009 reboot of Star Trek.

SPOILER ahead... If you haven't seen it, you should stop reading this post and go rent it on Amazon.

Then, you can go look up movie times and get tickets to the sequel(out this week).

Anyway, at some point in the movie, Kirk and Scotty get beamed aboard the Enterprise, but end up in utilities. Scotty gets beamed into the piping so Kirk has to go free him.

Where does he go?

Looks like an HMI (human machine interface) to me....

What's he doing? Oh, manually overriding a valve.

It's hardly recognizable as an HMI with those sexy lights across the top and snazzy faceplate graphics.

I guess they covered basic SCADA training in Starfleet ensign training.

But make no mistake. That looks like either a PLC (programmable logic controller) or a DCS (distributed control system).

And this is just for the utilities. The control system for the entirety of the Enterprise would be far more sophisticated.

I keep reading about how long we have to wait before we get Star Trek technologies... or how long before we have hoverboards...

But the fact of the matter is this. So long as we are minting CS and ChemE grads whose purpose in life is to get internet users to click on ads (as opposed to them creating and deploying SCADA software), it's going to be a long, long time.

At Zymergi, we're doing our part, furthering the deployment of these technologies by helping install, validate, and use these SCADA systems to manufacture biologics.

How about you?

Other reading:

All screenshots are from the Star Trek 2009 movie from Paramount Pictures, Spyglass Entertainment and Bad Robot Productions.

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