ASSESS Initiative and the Future of Simulation – Launching the Simulation Revolution

In three previous (2016, 2017 and 2018) issues of Autodesk® Partner Solution Design Guide I have already written about the ASSESS Initiative vision of analysis and simulation software future, jointly developed by leading experts of CAE vendors, commercial customers and academic users1,2,3. This article contains an update on the ASSESS Initiative.

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 every engineer:

  • 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.
    But serious practical activity for implementing this vision into reality is impossible without creating a solid organization framework – and such framework is now in place and working!

ASSESS organization framework and activity in 2018
ASSESS Initiative LLC was formed in mid-2016, and the ASSESS membership program was opened to the general public in Jan 2018. Currently the membership number is about 100, including 11 sponsors of different levels. For a symbolic annual fee ($200) everybody can get access to all of the ASSESS materials.

The web-site was created and is supported to provide all ASSESS-related information, document and links. “ASSESS Initiative” and “ASSESS Next Steps” groups in LinkedIn social network were also established and currently include 168 and 226 members respectively.

Another very useful resource, recently developed by active ASSESS Initiative participant Malcolm Panthaki and his colleagues, is “Rev-Sim”website It contains lots of related presentations, videos, success stories and other related resources, as well as access to industry experts, service and software providers, for end users, who would like to participate in the democratization of simulation.

The Advisory Committee of 57 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 had regular online (and offline – at ASSESS Congresses) meetings. Working groups on different ASSESS-related topics were created and started working, including the groups on: Funding possibilities (Short name: Funding); Marketing & Outreach (Outreach); Benefits and values (Benefits); Democratization of engineering software (DoES); Confidence of engineering simulation (Credibility); Business challenges (Business); Intersection of systems and classical simulation (Systems); Alignment of Government, research and commercial (Align); Generative design (Generative).

One of the important ASSESS activities is preparing and publishing papers on different aspects of the ASSESS vision and its implementation. Two positioning papers (answering the question “what to do” – in details!) were prepared and published by the Align and DoES theme working groups. The most significant achievement of 2018 was the recent publication of the first ASSESS Strategic Insight Paper “Understanding an Engineering Simulation Risk Model”, prepared by Joe Walsh in concert with the Credibility working group and in cooperation with other ASSESS members and partners. This paper answers not only on the question “what to do”, but also on much more tough question “how to do” for one of the most difficult ASSESS themes. The paper is based on and incorporates the experience of NASA-STD-7009A standard and Sandia Predictive Capability Maturity Model (PCMM) and proposes specific methodology to estimate simulation credibility in numbers!

Further plans for 2018-2020 include positioning papers on Business, Credibility, Systems and Generative, as well as Strategic Insight papers on Align, Business, DoES and Generative.

In the same time ASSESS members actively continued to present and promote its vision on different industry events, such as COFES, NAFEMS CAASE, INCOSE IS, CAE Conference, and more. And the topics highly resonate – it’s really surprising for the author how quickly acceptance of some ASSESS ideas (like Pre-CAD Analysis and Optimization) has evolved along the classical 3 phase scheme from «Naive idea, impossible to implement» through «Well, maybe…» to «Everybody knows that this should be done this way». Just an example – a month ago on CAE Conference 2018 Oil & Gas section I had an opportunity to take in my hand a working valve produced using topology optimization and generative design!

ASSESS Congress 2018
The main ASSESS event in 2018 – 3rd ASSESS Congress – was held 28-30 October 2018 in Chateau Elan Winery & Resort (, GA, USA. Beautiful architecture and landscapes (in addition to delicious wines) helped participants from over 70 companies put aside their everyday troubles and consider/discuss the future of simulation. The Congress was supported by 27 (!) sponsors, including 4 Platinum sponsors (Autodesk, AMD, Dassault Systemes Simulia, and NAFEMS).

Software vendors represented 52% of attendees – largest part – but this time they represented a much wider spectrum of different types of software vendors. “Traditional” big CAD/CAE (and hardware) vendors were represented by such companies as Autodesk, AMD, Dassault Systemes, Siemens PLM, and ZWCAD. Other FEA, CFD and PLM software vendors included Aerion Technologies, ARAS Corporation, BETA CAE Systems, Coreform, and INTES. Environments for simulation of complex multiphysics systems was represented by Modelon, MapleSim (Maplesoft) and Phoenix Integration (ModelCenter). Special simulation-related software vendors also attended including: aPriori (cost estimation software), PSRE Co (Piping and pressure vessel analysis), Sigmetrix (tolerance analysis), ZMT Zurich Medtech (medical device industry CAE software). And (what seems to be especially important!) there were software component/library/tool developers for almost all main aspects of ASSESS themes:

  • FEA or CFD mesh generation: Computational Simulation Software; Creative Fields Holding Company; Program Development Company
  • Optimization tools: Collier Research Corporation; ESTECO
  • Topology optimization and generative design: Frustum Inc; nTopology; Sandia National Laboratories; SciArt Software
  • User-friendly simulation results visualization: Tecplot Inc; Visual Collaboration Technologies Inc
  • Simulation in the cloud: Onscale; The Ubercloud
  • Excel-based simulation: EASA
  • Product data interoperability: ITI Global
  • Simulation credibility: SmartUQ

Software vendors at the ASSESS Congress were complemented by several influential CAE software distributors and service providers (Digital Product Simulation, EnginSoft, ESI Group, Eckdyn Analysis Solutions, Engineering Simulation Consultancy, Front End Analytics), as well as a number of well-known CAE experts and market research companies.

Commercial end users represented 22% of attendees and included such famous companies as 3M Company, BorgWarner, HOK, Huawei, MBDA, Parker-Hannifin Corporation, The Proctor & Gamble Company, and Whirlpool. The academic community (6%) was represented by Eastern Virginia Medical School, Georgia Institute of Technology, HC Simulation and University of Mississippi Medical Center, and Lawrence Technological University. Government institutions (4%) included Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and NASA Glenn Research Center.

This year the ASSESS Congress used both its traditional form of work (plenary keynote presentation and brainstorm sessions) and new form – “Notes from the front” presentations.

Two keynote presentations addressed the issues which were not seriously covered at ASSESS Congresses so far.

Mark Meili, Director Modeling and Simulation at The Proctor & Gamble Co., in his very interesting “Diffusion of Innovation” keynote considered the process of innovation adoption from the viewpoint of social science. Unfortunately, Engineers and software developers are mostly unaware of social laws and inclined not to take them into account. Who of readers know, for example, about Roger’s innovation adoption curve? In our approach to end user software vendors often don’t fully take into account how decisions are made in modern human society and what factors really influence the speed of innovation diffusion. Mark Meili’s presentation includes many specific ”common sense” recommendations we so often ignore. Let’s stop doing this!

Dimitri Mavris, Director of Aerospace System Design Laboratory, in his very impressive keynote “The creation of a Digital Twin of the Georgia Tech Campus” shared with participants experience of Digital Twin creation and even demonstrated some of its features and applications which enable GT campus planning and operation for a 20-30 year horizon. The topic of Digital Twin(s) and the role of simulation in their creation and operation was recently added to the focus of the ASSESS Initiative, as it promises to widely extend simulation usage from the design phase to the complete life-cycle of the product or facility. Mavris’s keynote definitely demonstrated big opportunities of Digital Twins and their potentially significant role in future of simulation.

“Notes from the front” presentations were, without any doubt, a big success of ASSESS Congress organizers. In ten 15-minute notes their authors had to share with participants in very “condensed” form of their latest ASSESS-related achievements, experience, vision and/or problems. Though these 10 notes were very different in their subject, scope and level of detail, all of them were really interesting, informative and appealing to discussions. I will only shortly describe four of them which are the most sensational and informative for me (or which I at least partly understood).

Andreus Vlahinos from Advanced Engineering Solutions in his «From Topology Optimization to Generative Design» note presented a brilliant review of current status of Generative design development, its problems, main aspects (Topology optimization; Automatic CAD reconstruction; Lattice structures and their classification; Smart lattice generation with topology optimization; composite metamaterials and their effective properties; Cell homogenization; Interactive design exploration; Modern optimization algorithms, and 3D printing) and perspectives. I highly recommend anybody interested in Generative design to study this presentation!

Ted Blacker from Sandia National Laboratories, famous developer of CUBIT meshing library, reported about huge progress on «Plato» project for developing the software for generative design. The Plato software now supports all main features of generative design, works quite quick and will be available within several months as open-source software!

Hubertus Tummescheit, President of Modelon Inc, presented the latest advances in Modelica and projects of Modelica Association to create the framework of complex system simulation. Functional Mockup Interface and other open standards and interfaces create a wonderful opportunity to embed or connect any specific simulation software component to this framework. Kudos to Hubertus for this openness, interoperability and hard work to support it!

Katie Lewis from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in its “Integrating Machine Learning with Simulation” really shocked participants, concentrating huge amounts of information about her team researches, methods and results in short 28 slide presentation!

2 rounds of brainstorm sessions were focused on 7 already listed “ASSESS Themes”: Align, Business, Credibility, DoES, Generative, Systems and Digital Twins. It was of course difficult to expect that 1.5 hour brainstorms could produce results of the same level, as systematic long term researches of working groups – so maybe this form of work will require some changes on next ASSESS Congresses. Nevertheless, results of some brainstorm sessions were quite interesting, with accurate definitions, priorities and fresh ideas. I personally liked the Digital Twins and DoES sessions results – and especially the DoES discussion on the role of embedded intelligent in the software (i.e. knowledge capture). It seems for me to be the issue which still doesn’t receive enough attention in frame of ASSESS. So the session made a very good job of exploring the whole range of possible methods and tools for knowledge capture – from simple “Paperclip” to expert systems and machine learning.

PSRE – stake on ASSESS ideas
Piping System Research & Engineering (PSRE) Company, as a 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 many elements of ASSESS approaches for DoES in our own software.

And now we officially declared that our policy is based on ASSESS vision and goals, and we propose our PASS software as Smart Simulation & Sizing Tools for Every Piping And Equipment Engineer/Designer! (see )

Join the ASSESS initiative membership and sponsorship programs, and get access to all valued information and resources mentioned above! Let us work together for launching Simulation Revolution!


Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google
  • TwitThis
  • Free Download


    Download the latest issue of the Autodesk® Partner Solutions Design Guide 2019 and subscribe to receive future issues and the quarterly email newsletter

Extension Media websites place cookies on your device to give you the best user experience. By using our websites, you agree to placement of these cookies and to our Privacy Policy. Please click here to accept.