Felipe Alejandro Rubio
Deputy Director for the Center for Engineering and Industrial Development (CIDESI) and Leader
National Center of Aeronautics Technologies (CENTA) Project
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View from the Top

New Center to Bring Multidisciplinary Approach to Research

Thu, 12/01/2016 - 10:43

Q: What led to the creation of CENTA and how does the center support the aerospace industry?

A: CENTA was generated alongside FEMIA, which required a center with a wide range of faculties including metallurgy, physicochemical tests, mechanical, environmental and nondestructive testing to address the needs of its members. The objective behind the center’s creation was to complement the local aerospace supply chain with applied research, product development and innovation. CENTA stands out as the only research center in the state servicing the aerospace industry with a multidisciplinary approach. CENTA will employ aeronautics engineers, chemists, physicians, mechanics and mathematicians, among other specialists, all of whom will focus on generating operations and solutions for the aerospace industry.

CIDESI was entrusted with CENTA’s development by CONACYT because CIDESI had eight years of preliminary research into composites and the characterization and validation of raw materials, finished products and processes for the aerospace industry. Through collaboration with FEMIA and CIDESI, we generated a detailed technological plan to address the industry’s needs, which will be implemented over 12 years in three stages. We expect the center’s first stage will be finished by the end of 2016.

Q: What forms the foundation of CENTA’s development?

A: There are three pillars to CENTA’s development. The first principle dictates the center must develop at a national level and while it will initially focus on Queretaro’s market, we are working with companies from other states. The center helped the development of a multi disciplinary approach. Being present in all aerospace related zones such as the states of Nuevo Leon, Chihuahua, Sonora and Baja California. Our goal is the integration of national capabilities.

The second pillar is industry collaboration to consolidate the aerospace supply chain, which is a feat urgently needed by the entire sector. Several OEMs, after entering the country, found gaps in the supply chain that diminish their competitiveness. The need to send a component outside of Mexico for certification or for treatment and bring it back can cause unforeseen costs and delays. Due to meticulous safety requirements, aerospace companies prefer to rely on functional parts and processes instead of risking changing them for newer, untested parts. Thus, enterprises take a long time to adapt to new companies' processes. Furthermore, since the aerospace industry requires very small volumes and has extremely high-quality standards, pieces take much longer to manufacture. While initially problematic, this is good for the industry as it translates to longer contracts.

The third pillar will be to support the certification of emerging aerospace companies. Aeronautics regulators do not have laboratories so all certifications in Mexico have to be performed with foreign representatives from OEMs, implying greater costs and potential delays. We want to be a technological wing that can support both the aerospace sector and any other company that may require access to highly advanced technologies and equipment.

Q: Besides finalizing construction, what steps are necessary to begin research?

A: Among our first steps will be the integration of a solid group of researchers and students and the expansion of our research areas to offer graduate programs. We are working alongside the industry to develop and repair composites, which is a complex and delicate process, and developing resins with ceramics and metal matrixes. Composites are occupying a central role in the industry. For instance, the Boeing 787 is made with composites.

We are nearing the end of the construction period and expect the laboratories to be operational soon. Once finished and fully equipped, CENTA will be the center with the widest and most varied composites equipment in Mexico. We will begin operations with research on highly advanced materials, safeguarding the design quality to be used in our plants. Secondly, we hope to begin designing for manufacturing. I believe the center can make a significant contribution to the aeronautical industry, offering simulation processes that reduce time spent on expensive physical experiments.