NASA Spinoff

Integrated Design Tools Reduce Risk, Cost

According to Scott Ragon, director of research at Phoenix Integration, “Given a fixed amount of time, designers can consider a greater number of alternatives.” With ModelCenter automating the execution of a variety of systems, designers can more efficiently meet design requirements, which translate into a time savings, or they can review more design options in the same amount of time, which allows designers to experiment with a greater number of possibilities, perhaps finding a better solution to a problem. As Ragon explains, the program will either provide “better design results in the same time, or the same results in less time.”

Ragon notes, however, that ModelCenter does not automate the design process. Qualified engineers still make the final design decision; the framework simply makes them more efficient at the process.

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory will be employing ModelCenter to design new space architecture concepts, and engineers at Ames Research Center’s Systems Analysis Branch have taken advantage of the design tool in their quest to improve aircraft safety and efficiency, minimize the environmental impact of aviation, and increase the competitiveness of the U.S. aviation industry.

Primarily, teams at Langley are using the software as part of the NASA Fundamental Aeronautics Program (FAP), which is assessing concepts and technologies for a wide range of air vehicles. One focus of FAP is design and testing of new subsonic fixed wing aircraft that would lower noise and emissions while increasing performance. Langley engineers will realize reduced risks and cost by using ModelCenter’s physics-based models early in the design process.

Langley’s Mark Guynn, who worked on this project, says, “The workflow process capability developed under this SBIR and commercialized in ModelCenter 9.0 was instrumental in the Subsonic Fixed Wing Project, meeting a major project milestone this year.”

Today, over 1,000 engineers in over 100 different locations can use the SBIR-funded technology, which will allow NASA and industry to design innovations from next-generation air vehicles to consumer electronics.

ModelCenter® is a registered trademark of Phoenix Integration Inc.