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We recently spoke to Prasad Mandava, Co-Founder and CEO of Visual Collaboration Technologies, (VCollab) to ask how his career began in simulation and why he chose to participate in the Revolution in Simulation.

How did you first become involved with engineering simulation in your career?

It was 1985 when I was pursuing my master’s degree in structural engineering.  I rather hated theoretical mathematics but loved applied math, especially numerical methods followed by an introduction to finite element analysis to solve problems in physics. I really liked the ability to solve complex physical simulations using approximate methods like FEA.

Most importantly, the engineering judgement required to model a problem and then interpret the results was fascinating to me. I started to see the great potential to improve engineering design work by using simulation earlier in the design cycle.  I began my career working as FEA analyst in a space program during the late eighties and feel ever so fortunate to have that experience!

Why is VCollab participating in the Revolution in Simulation? 

As an ardent champion of simulation technologies and the business value it offers, I have always felt that the usage of simulation software has not grown as widely and fast as it should.  When the Revolution in Simulation (Rev-Sim) initiative was launched last year, I was immediately compelled to join the team of other simulation experts who felt as I did and contribute to this unique collaborative alliance.

There is certainly a timely opportunity for an initiative like Rev-Sim to educate current experienced practitioners as well as the younger generation in new technologies that improve the utilization of simulation software.  I also believe in the necessity for a revolution in the expectations of both users and providers of simulation software that in turn can fuel the development of better products that will benefit future generations.

Why is expanding the use of simulation technologies through the democratization of simulation important to your customers?

I think it is important to not only to the customers, but also to the providers, students and everyone involved in the product design cycle whether they be engineers or not.  When simulation is left in the hands of few experts, the companies they work for are not maximizing the benefit of computational analysis in their product development.

The movement to democratize simulation helps our customers to increase the utilization of simulation technologies in designing better products from the start and bringing those products faster to the market. This allows our customers to enhance productivity and improve collaboration among the different product development teams by expanding the usage of simulation beyond the experts who are often a choke point in the project schedule. The result is an acceleration of innovation across all product development stakeholders in the organization.

What do you see as the most important benefits and can you share an example or two?

There are numerous benefits beyond companies performing more simulation work earlier in the design cycle when it is most cost effective. Democratizing the use of simulation visualization thru “3D Dynamic CAE Reports” can help companies improve the communication and collaboration among not just the engineering analysts but also within globally-dispersed engineering teams of the OEM and their supply chain partners. This leads to faster preliminary design concept decisions and improved final design performance with reduced calendar time.

I recently heard a compelling story from one of VCollab’s key customers.  He mentioned that while a team of his simulation experts worked diligently to perform a design space exploration that did indeed produce an optimized design, the product designer was able to create a better design alternative in less time when he was given access to a 3D visualization simulating the operation of the entire product assembly.  This is significantly different than sharing a static PowerPoint slide of pretty pictures with a designer. Improving the “visual CAE collaboration” between analysts and product designers led to better designs and faster time to market.

The net is that visual collaboration tools that improve the downstream consumption of simulation results and decision making can have as big of an impact as democratizing the actual analysis software, and in the process improving the quality of designs and capacity for continuous innovation.

What are some of the challenges that you have also witnessed in democratizing these simulation technologies?

There are indeed substantial technical challenges such as the sheer size of simulation data sets as the complexity and fidelity of multi-physics simulations increase. As the capability of simulation software expands, the features of the software tools become more advanced requiring more training and time to become competent. As a result, extracting then visualizing key simulation data results and creating CAE reports that are understandable by others has become a challenge for even expert analysts. That’s where VCollab helps. Finally, resistance to change within organizations and in their functional silo teams is a challenge most of us know all too well!

What does VCollab offer now and what can we expect to see into the future that helps industry overcome these hurdles?

We develop easy to use tools for not only CAE experts but also for non-CAE experts like designers and project managers to consume simulation information thru 3D Dynamic CAE Reports that help them to optimize designs more easily, faster, and with greater confidence. Our tools shrink the time lag between engineering analysis, product decision making, and final design validations. This helps the enterprise to maximize the ROI from their existing simulation investments.

Our VCollab team works not only closely with our industrial customers but increasingly collaborates with leading simulation software providers to advance the democratization of engineering simulation visualization. As we have done for the past decade, we will continue to focus on developing easy-to-use tools to improve visual CAE communication and collaboration between all of the different stakeholders who may not have an engineering background such as those in business development, customer support, and supply chain logistics.

Where can readers go to learn more?

Visit the VCollab website at www.vcollab.com.

Thank you, Prasad!