Changing Roles in a Challenging Environment

In our annual poll of executives at leading analysis and simulation software companies, we posed questions dealing with virtual prototyping, the changing role of the analyst, and how the economic environment is affecting software users and vendors. Here’s what they had to say about market trends for 2010, and maintaining competitive advantages in a challenging business market.

The role of the analyst continues to change and evolve, particularly as today’s economy dictates doing more with less. Engineers and designers must possess a new skill set that often includes more in-depth analysis and simulation. “It’s no longer possible for engineers to completely specialize in one small part of the process,” said Jon Friedman, aerospace industry marketing manager for The MathWorks. “As a result, engineers who used to be able to focus on just analyzing the performance of a design are now also part of the design team.”

“It’s true that our economic situation is demanding more out of the classic engineer,” said David Weinberg, president and CEO of NEi Software. “Currently, the designer who once in a while may use simulation products is being asked to take on more analysis work.”

“The goal with analysis software is to give you the best answer in the shortest amount of time, and it is the responsibility of the analyst to make the correct assumptions to create the most realistic virtual model.” - Dave Weinberg, NEi Software
A problem with designers and engineers having to perform more analysis and simulation tasks is the software itself, and how easy it is to learn and use. “The current economic climate is a period of adjustment for both design engineers and analysts,” said Svante Littmarck, president and CEO of COMSOL. “Everyone wants to get the most out of the available CAD and analysis software tools, not only to optimize designs, but also to encourage innovation. From an end-user’s perspective, it’s important that moving within a CAD and analysis toolset is unobstructed.”

“Increasing the intuitiveness of the software and automating tasks wherever possible is key to getting novices using simulation tools,” according to Bruce Klimpke, technical director of Integrated En - gineering Software (IES). “Trying to do design without proper simulation tools is the wrong starting point. In an economy where doing more with less is expected, the importance of simulation has increased.”

While designers may be required to perform more in-depth analysis and simulation tasks, organizations can make it easier by using the software tools to their greatest advantage. According to Dipankar Choudhury, vice president of corporate product strategy and planning at ANSYS, “There will always be a need for experts who understand deep, comprehensive physics concepts. At the same time, not every user will require the same level of technology, because he or she may not have the need to model complex physics. A good use of both these sectors is to have experienced staff develop templates for repeatable tasks, assigning the non-experts to do the follow-up work.”

“We’ll continue to see CAE users moving beyond simply analyzing one instant in time. Instead, simulation will routinely include large-scale motion, impact and stress analysis, and other multiphysics effects.” - Teresa Anania, Autodesk
Teresa Anania, director of mechanical simulation at Autodesk, believes that the role of the analyst continues to evolve and change, but for different reasons. “This is simply a natural progression caused by advancements in today’s computer- aided engineering software — not a significant side effect of today’s economic climate,” she explained. “This progression continues because analysis and simulation software has become more user friendly, particularly for CAD users. In an increasing number of applications, design engineers are able to perform analysis and simulation tasks. In fact, anyone who uses CAD software can learn how to use today’s CAE software.”

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