Penn State collaboration produces design software and license

Tim Simpson, professor of industrial and mechanical engineering, and a team of students and faculty in aerospace, industrial and mechanical engineering, the College of Information Science and Technology, and the Applied Research Laboratory have developed a suite of multi-dimensional data visualization tools to support model-based engineering and design.

"Engineers use computer models to analyze and simulate virtually every system before it is designed these days," Simpson said. "For example, aerospace engineers use computational fluid dynamics to analyze airflow over a wing, mechanical engineers use finite element analysis to improve the structural integrity of new automobiles and industrial engineers use simulation to optimize the flow on a production line."

He added that these models allow engineers to generate millions of alternatives before finding the best design. Optimization helps this process, yet engineers and managers want to see more than just the numerical results for the best design. In order to address additional concerns such as whether the best design has been selected, the limiting conditions for that best design, and what factors might lead to additional improvement, Simpson and his team developed the multi-dimensional visualization software.

The team worked with Rick Weyer in Penn State's Office of Technology Management to license the software to Phoenix Integration. The Penn State sofware serves as the foundation for the firm's new VisualizationPak, which is offered as part of its ModelCenter 10 suite of applications. According to Phoenix Integration, VisualizationPak enables visualizing multi-dimensional design spaces to easily locate best designs and present results in comprehensible HTML design reports while providing intuitive, interactive design exploration through a novel "design by shopping" approach to optimization.

The research done by Simpson and his team was supported by the National Science Foundation and performed in collaboration with engineers and researchers at Aerospace Corporation, Boeing, General Motors, Lockheed Martin and United Technologies Research.

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Last Updated October 25, 2011