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MathWorks: Giving scientists and engineers the software they need


By Paul Brackley


It employs more than 4,500 people worldwide and its software is used in everything from data science and machine learning to embedded systems and robotics.

Its products are installed at 100,000-plus business, government and university sites across more than 185 countries.

Some of the MathWorks team at Cowley Park in Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell
Some of the MathWorks team at Cowley Park in Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell

Welcome to MathWorks, a developer of mathematical computing software for engineers and scientists, which has offices on Cambridge Business Park.

The company is sponsoring the STEM Initiative of the Year category in the 2019 Cambridge Independent Science and Technology Awards.

Headquartered in the US, MathWorks was founded in 1984.

“Jack Little and Cleve Moler, the co-founders of MathWorks, recognised the need among engineers and scientists for more powerful and productive computation environments beyond those provided by languages such as Fortran and C,” explains senior engineering manager Jos Martin.

“They combined their expertise in mathematics, engineering and computer science to develop MATLAB, a high-performance technical computing environment.”

The company has been profitable every year since they launched it.

They went on to add Simulink, a block diagram environment for multidomain simulation and model-based design.

“We continue to focus on MATLAB and Simulink, offering over 100 different specialised products spanning these two product families,” says Jos.

Jos Martin at MathWorks in Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell
Jos Martin at MathWorks in Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell

“Our primary focus is on engineers and scientists worldwide. Our goal is to offer them the solutions they need to address the rapidly-changing needs in their industry, allowing them to do their jobs better, faster and more collaboratively.

“We are also considered fundamental teaching and research tools in universities and learning institutions, with more than 6,500 colleges and universities around the world using MATLAB and Simulink for teaching and research in a broad range of technical disciplines.”

From data science and machine learning to embedded systems and robotics, MATLAB and Simulink have many applications.

“We offer support across industries from automotive, aerospace and electronics to financial services, biotech-pharmaceutical and many others,” adds Jos.

MATLAB has been expanded over the years into a programming environment for analysing data, developing algorithms, visualisation and numeric computation.

Interactive apps are used to show how algorithms work with data, and produce MATLAB programs to reproduce or automate work.

Simulink, meanwhile, can be used for applications such as modelling plant dynamics, testing smart devices and controlling robots.

“Engineers can design and simulate their system before moving to hardware, explore and implement designs that wouldn’t otherwise wouldn’t be considered, and do all this without having to write C, C++, or HDL code,” says Jos.

Among the exciting and fast-growing industries that MathWorks’ products are used in is in the design of automated driving systems, aiding sensing and path planning, for example.

The MathWorks team at work. Picture: Keith Heppell
The MathWorks team at work. Picture: Keith Heppell

The company has created the Automated Driving Toolbox and Vehicle Dynamics Blockset, which help to design, simulate and test advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous driving systems.

“The key challenge for engineers in this industry is how to keep up with three primary trends,” suggests Jos. “One trend is where the advanced levels of perception, enabled by deep learning, are contributing to the success of automated driving, from ADAS to fully autonomous driving.

“Another trend is to develop a virtual test ground for ADAS and automated driving features using the reference applications and the 3D environment.

“The third trend is creating co-operative communications technology that enables continuous, high-speed, authenticable interactions between moving vehicles – known as vehicles to everything (V2X).

“This has the potential to significantly change our roads for the better.”

Automated driving is just one of many fields in which artificial intelligence is key.

“AI is not just powering applications like smart assistants, machine translation, and automated driving, it’s also giving engineers and scientists a set of techniques for tackling common tasks in new ways,” notes Jos.

MATLAB is proving popular with those working with AI because it simplifies its adoption in engineering system design, offering a complete AI development workflow from data preparation, AI modelling and system design to deployment and integration.

Little wonder, then, that MATLAB was listed among the fastest-growing skills based on the employee profiles of five of LinkedIn’s top 50 companies – Google-owned Alphabet, Apple, Johnson & Johnson, Intel and Pinterest.

Cambridge Independent Science and Technology Awards 2019 logo (14178042)
Cambridge Independent Science and Technology Awards 2019 logo (14178042)

And that means MathWorks continues to recruit.

“Given growth in our Cambridge office, we expect to maintain a steady job creation pace through 2020,” says Jos. “In the UK alone, we have over 30 current openings spanning areas like engineering and development, sales and support, marketing and business operations.”

The MathWorks-sponsored STEM Initiative of the Year is a new category in the Cambridge Independent Science and Technology Awards that reflects the importance of ensuring wide access to science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses and careers. The winner will be announced on October 30, 2019.

Jos says: “What’s needed is a strong partnership between industry and academia, where companies help integrate their tools, like we do with MATLAB and Simulink, into the curriculum, help students prepare for competitions that are aimed at solving real-world challenges in aerospace, robotics, medical and maths, and support teacher education through access to workshops, tools and ready curriculum packets that can be brought back to the classroom.”

Read more

Meet the sponsors of the 2019 Cambridge Independent Science and Technology Awards



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