ASSESS Initiative and the Future of Simulation – from Dreams to Actions



In two previous (2016 and 2017) issues of Autodesk® Partner Solution Design Guide I already wrote about ASSESS Initiative and vision of analysis and simulation software future, jointly developed by leading experts of CAE vendors, commercial customers and academic users. This article contains the latest update on ASSESS Initiative development.

But first let’s remind you of the 8 main components of ASSESS initiative vision to make analysis and simulation software an everyday tool of ordinary designer:

  • A move to Design-Centered Workflow in which the simulation would be performed by non-experts (designers) in close integration with other CAD tools to drive effective design decisions.
  • The development and wide usage of Pre-CAD Analysis and Optimization software tools (such as topology optimization and other aspects of generative design) to drive very early design decisions at the conceptual and pre-design stage – and eventually even without traditional design phase at all (directly to 3D printing).
  • The ability to incorporate into simulations the appropriate physics fidelity at adequate speed with quantified error.
  • Knowledge capture and reuse tools should be proposed along with CAE software, to capture experts’ and reuse knowledge and experience both on creating appropriate calculation models on different design stages and appropriate interpretation of analysis results and decision making on their base.
  • The ability to combine heterogeneous and multi-level models of complex systems in an automated and reliable way for multi-discipline analysis and optimization.
  • Ease of Use & Usability of CAE software has to focus on enabling the user to leverage Systems Engineering and Simulation to achieve his goals and make decisions in a timely manner without requiring extensive expertise and probably requires layered access to software features/options (similar to level of detailing in 3D viewing).
  • Web/Cloud/Mobile deployment of simulation software should make it available on any device and at any location and significantly decrease total cost of ownership for end user.
  • Licensing models should be revisited, to make them more flexible and affordable for different categories of users.

Any practical activity for implementing of this vision into reality is impossible without creating solid organization framework. And such framework is now in place and started working!

ASSESS Initiative Advisory Committee and its activity

The Advisory Committee of 55 members-volunteers (including the author) was created under the leadership of Joe Walsh. The Committee first met at COFES 2016 in April 2016 and since then has regular online meetings.

The first task naturally was to create an overall ASSESS initiative document (ASSESS manifesto) to explain everybody our ideas and intentions. This work was done, and the document is published and available here. The important part of the document is how we are going to convert our vision into practice. To do this the ASSESS Initiative under the guidance of the ASSESS Initiative Advisory Committee will use a variety of activities, including but not limited to:

  • Supporting an annual ASSESS Congress bringing together the community of domain experts, industry analysts, software providers, researchers, and others in the community of Engineering Simulation to review the current status, issues, goals and actionable items of the ASSESS Initiative;
  • Creating multiple opportunities for meetings, discussion and experience exchange;
  • Facilitating collaborative assessment and planning across the community of domain experts, industry analysts, software providers, and researchers targeted at increasing the usage and benefit of Engineering Simulation;
  • Enabling focused research activities targeted at addressing the key themes and challenges around ASSESS;
  • Promoting breakthrough technologies for more effective and more efficient Engineering Simulation solutions;
  • Encouraging software strategies which are in line with the ASSESS philosophy:
    – “Fit for Purpose” Apps
    –  Knowledge capture & reuse
    –  Shareable software components
  • Collecting and publishing ASSESS success stories;
  • Supporting appropriate standards development

Along with ASSESS Manifesto, 7 other working groups were created and started their work in frame of ASSESS Initiative Advisory Committee: Funding possibilities; Benefits and values; Democratization of Engineering Simulation; Confidence of Engineering Simulation; Business challenges; Intersection of systems and classical simulation; Alignment of Government, research and commercial. Each of them considers corresponding parts of ASSESS vision or activities to elaborate on how to go ahead on this part. In the same time ASSESS Initiative LLC company was registered to provide necessary financial and organization management.

The results achieved by of Advisory Committee and Working groups were reported to COFES 2017 in April 2017, as well as to a number of other CAE communities (NAFEMS, INCOSE and other), with which Advisory Committee established cooperation. The web-site https://www.assessinitiative.com was created and is supported to provide all ASSESS-related information, document and links. Discussion group “ASSESS next steps” also was created on Linkedin, which now has more than 200 members.

The main ASSESS event in 2017 – 2nd ASSESS Congress – was held 1-3 November 2017 in Bolger Center in Potomac, MD, USA. Representatives of more than 50 companies (mostly on the level of CEO or VP) participated in plenary meetings, technology briefings and brainstorm sessions to share experience and to develop next steps. It is interesting that in contrast with the 1st Congress, this time software vendors (49% of participants) didn’t dominate the forum: a wide variety of CAE end users and their communities in commercial, government and other segments took active part in discussions. Nevertheless almost all of the most influential traditional CAE software vendors (ANSYS, Autodesk, COMSOL, Dassault Systemes, Siemens PLM etc) also participated. It is also very interesting (and inspiring!) that along with “traditional” and new classical CAE software (FEA, CFD etc) vendors, the software/component/service developers in such critical for ASSESS fields as Uncertainty Quantification, Optimization and Generative design, now became important part of ASSESS Congress and shared their experience at technology briefings. This includes such companies as Altair Engineering, ESTECO, Noesis Solutions, nTopology, SmartUQ, and SCIART.

There were two excellent end user keynote presentations during the plenary sessions. Tina Morrison, Deputy Director of Division of Applied Mechanics from US Food and Drug Administration, made a very comprehensive and impressive report on usage of modern Modeling and Simulation software for medical devices development. Bob Tickel, Director of Structural and Dynamic Analysis, Corporate R&T, from Cummins, Inc, presented review of past, current and future Modeling and Simulation at Cummins.

2 rounds of brainstorm sessions were focused on 8 so named “ASSESS Themes” – the most important aspects of ASSESS development. This includes:

  • Democratization of Engineering Simulation (DoES)
  • Engineering Simulation Credibility (ESC)
  • Integration of Systems and Detailed Sub-System Simulation (Systems)
  • Generative Design (new theme on ASSESS Congresses!)
  • Aligning Commercial, Government and Research Interests and Efforts (Align)
  • Business challenges
  • Potential Game Changers
  • Looking Forward

The frame of the article doesn’t allow to review all interesting ideas proposed on these sessions, so below are only some of them which seems most important for the author.

It was proposed by DoES session to more actively use Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Engineering Simulation.
The ESC session recommended to use the NASA Technical Standard NASA-STD-7009A for modeling and simulation (https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20160011121.pdf) as a basis for further work on this theme.

The Systems session also made strong ascent on Machine Learning and AI, as well as need of correspondent APIs and libraries of accredited component models.

And the most important potential game changers (by opinion of correspondent session participants) are Generative design, AI, and the Internet of Things.

General discussion at plenary session of the Congress allowed the attendees to discuss next steps, which includes: development of research articles or/and guidelines on main ASSESS themes; collecting and sharing end user experience and success stories; intensifying exchange on technology innovations in Engineering Simulation; contacts with universities for more active CAE usage, including Engineering Simulation student competition; contacts with game industry for creation of engineering modeling and simulation games for children.
Of course all this activity will need funding. So the ASSESS Initiative membership program will be started from the beginning of 2018. For a small symbolic membership payment ASSESS Initiative members will get free access to all ASSESS research results, documents and file, and newsletters, as well as special discounts for annual congress participation. In the same time ASSESS Initiative sponsorship program will be started.

ASSESS Themes and CAE Conference 2017

Just after the ASSESS Congress the author participated in CAE Conference 2017 in Vicenza, Italy, which was held 6-7 Nov (see http://www.caeconference.com/). And it was stunning to see from all conference presentations how widely ideas of ASSESS are not only shared but actively implemented by CAE Community! This year practically all keynote presentations were directly related with ASSESS ideas and methods of their implementation, including such ideas as Simulation Data Management and Autonomous Engineering Design. The author highly recommends to study them in details, and especially keynotes of Eric Landel (Renault, President de la Section Technique Simulation de la SIA), Jinhwan Choi (Kyung Hee University, Department of Mechanical Engineering), Tom Kindermans (ANSYS Vice President EMEA) and Emilio Juarez (3D Printing Director EMEA at HP).

PSRE – leading by example

Piping System Research & Engineering (PSRE) Company, as professional CAE software developer for piping and vessels analysis and one of initial participants of ASSESS initiative, completely shares ASSESS vision and makes its best to follow this vision in its software products. We already started to use elements of Machine learning and AI in our own software.

In our multiphase flow software Hydrosystem we implemented one of the most modern and advanced models – Unified model from Tulsa University Fluid Flow Projects (TUFFP). But to correctly define all settings (closure relations) for the model, multiphase flow expert is necessary. So we decided to use TUFFP experimental database for multiphase flow and developed and embedded into the software some kind of expert knowledge system. Now Hydrosystem finds the most suitable settings for dimensional parameters of user’s multiphase flow on the base of available and embedded into the software experimental results. In this way our software now able to provide more accurate multiphase flow simulation for non-expert users! See more information on this development in our report.

Join the ASSESS initiative membership and sponsorship programs, and let us work together for better future of Simulation!

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