After winning the 2015 Innovation Award in the PhD category, Umberto Papa joined the company following an internship dedicated to a project on Structural Health Monitoring. Today, at the Leonardo site in Pomigliano d’Arco, he handles the technical coordination of the Global Combat Air System programme in the field of aircraft technology engineering. This highly ambitious project announced by Italy, the United Kingdom and Japan will revolutionise the concept of air defence and sees Leonardo as a strategic partner of the Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP), aimed at creating a new-generation system of systems for multi-domain operations.
One of his greatest challenges was to “acquire the technical engineering skills that would allow me to work with colleagues, also at the international level, who do the same as me while following different methods and cultures”.
A big leap into the future, after his MSc in Aerospace Engineering and PhD in Science and Technology Research. At Leonardo, Umberto instantly got to work on the C-27J Spartan Next Generation programme, in particular on the aircraft’s civil certification: “here you can practice what you’ve learned at university and apply it on one of the many Leonardo products, while having fun.” As with other colleagues, the C-27J, a programme developed entirely by Leonardo, represents a testing ground brimming with opportunities to “learn about different areas of engineering, not only in the job I was in, but also in relation to operations. The experience has allowed me, in particular, to gain a broad overview of the aircraft and everything related to it, from design to flight tests and through to delivery to the customer”.
Among the technologies that most engage and fascinate him, digital twinning - i.e. the modelling of digital environments - “has always been the area of science that engages me most. It is motivated by the need to simulate and replicate resources, physical phenomena and systems behaviours in order to optimise certain operations during the design phase. Other aims are to decrease the number of tests to be carried out during verification and validation, or to conduct predictive maintenance.”
Umberto’s personal passions, such as microelectronics and photography, in some ways contribute to his progress at work. “Microelectronics and the development of automatisms (in short, modelling) are centred on programming; being able to programme has helped me enormously at work, for example to automate and simplify calculation processes. My interest in photography, instead, has been instrumental in writing documents and presentations. Particularly important in this regard are the correct use and management of space in a slide or document page, effective colour management and, above all, the ability to capture the most fundamental elements to be conveyed. Yes, to ability identify the right information and data for optimal communication of a message, whether for technical or other purposes.”