Published in collaboration with NCMS
Digital Manufacturing Report

News & information about the fast-moving world
of digital manufacturing, modeling & simulation

Language Flags

Autodesk $21.7 Million Gift to Penn State Behrend Provides Access to Animation and Modeling Software


Investing in education is a time-honored tradition among high technology companies like Cisco, Google, HP, Intel, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, Texas Instruments and others.  Recently, in the field of advanced digital modeling and simulation, a gift on the part of Autodesk Software stands out. It directly addresses some of the more intractable problems facing the “missing middle,” those small to medium sized manufacturers (SMMs) who would like to embrace advanced manufacturing technology like 3D CAD and Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) but have neither the money, in-house infrastructure, or internal talent to do so.

The  $21.7 million gift to Penn State Erie, The Behrend College will provide its students with access to Autodesk modeling and animation software.  This is the largest donation ever received by Penn State Behrend.  Specifically the gift allows students to work with three of Autodesk’s key software suites:
•    Education Master Suite, which includes 3D CAD and engineering analysis tools
•    Simulation Moldflow, an injection molding simulation software that lets manufacturers optimize the design of plastic parts and injection molds, and study the injection molding process
•    Entertainment Creation Suite, a set of creative tools used by artists in game development, visual effects and 3D animation.  The suite was used to animate the last 17 films that won the Academy Award for best visual effects.

Faculty members in the college’s School of Engineering and professors in chemistry, psychology, game design, and management information systems are already using the software. Every faculty member and student at Penn State Behrend has access to it. Now they can use it for free.

Help for the Missing Middle
Accessibility to Moldflow by students and faculty is a good example of how a gift of technology can provide benefits not only for students and the school, but also for missing middle SMMs.

The relationship with Penn State actually started when Autodesk acquired the Moldflow Corporation in 2008. A number of the Moldflow applications engineers who had made the transition to Autodesk proved to be outstanding performers.  When their new supervisors looked into why they were so good at what they did and knew plastics so well, they found the common denominator was that all the engineers had gone through the plastics program at Penn State. This initiated a close relationship between the university and Autodesk, which culminated in the $21.7 gift.  In addition to the gift of the various software suites, Penn State teachers also have access to the curriculum that Autodesk has developed for these particular classes.

The students use the software in the College’s state of the art plastics lab to design and evaluate new parts. However, a good part of their educational experience is to work with a number of small to medium sized plastic component manufacturers to redesign existing tools.  The SMMs might want to optimize the design of older tools, or modify the design of the tool to get more throughput or decrease defects.  For example, they may change injection pressures to eliminate weld lines, change gate locations to bypass those lines, or design the part to be thick enough so that the mold cavity can be filled using only one gate (multiple gates can cause weakness at the weld lines).

Seamless Transition from School to Work

Among the characteristics of a missing middle company that wants to use advanced modeling and simulation in its operations is a shortage of capital to invest in the necessary hardware and software, as well as a lack of internal expertise in such esoteric disciplines as computational fluid dynamics and finite element analysis, and the internal IT infrastructure to support these activities. The Penn State Behrend program directly addresses these problems.  

Many of the students in their senior year involved in “capstone” projects working with an outside plastic company, find themselves with a job offer waiting for them upon graduation.

Thus the talent needed by the SMM arrives in the form of a well-trained college graduate turned employee who brings a wealth of knowledge about Moldflow and other CAD software to the company as well as direct experience designing the company’s products.  

Says Ralph Ford, director of the School of Engineering, “Graduates of Penn State Behrend and its School of Engineering have enjoyed a rich employment track record, and with access to this software, they will be even better positioned for success.”

For the SMMs, the capital requirements for the high performance computing capabilities needed to run this software is addressed by Autodesk’s cloud computing offering.  As we reported in an earlier article, last year the company acquired Blue Ridge Numeric’s and their 20 years of experience creating CFD tools.  This software joined Moldflow, Autodesk Inventor, and Autodesk Algor Simulation in a simulation portfolio that is now available in the cloud on a unique pay-as-you go model.  

Traditional simulation software can run anywhere from twenty thousand dollars up to hundreds of thousands for just the base package.  By being able to access the software in the cloud, the SMMs are spared the upfront costs of deploying a high performance computing infrastructure and the people to run it.  Instead, a relatively modest workstation can run the CAD software using resources available in the cloud.  And the price is a fraction of the cost of a conventional package purchased under license.

It is this combination of an influx of new talent already familiar with running the SMM’s jobs on Moldflow, and the low cost and accessibility of the Autodesk simulation software in the cloud that adds another dimension to the quest to bring advanced digital manufacturing techniques to the missing middle.

RSS Feeds

Subscribe to All Content


Feature Articles

Titan Puts a New Spin on GE’s Wind Turbine Research

Unlike traditional energy sources, wind is a trouble to tame, which has led GE to turn to advanced simulations at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to put the technology on track to cover 12 percent of the world's energy production.
Read more...

Lighting a Fire Under Combustion Simulation

Combustion simulation might seem like the ultimate in esoteric technologies, but auto companies, aircraft firms and fuel designers need increasingly sophisticated software to serve the needs of 21st century engine designs. HPCwire recently got the opportunity to take a look at Reaction Design, one of the premier makers of combustion simulation software, and talk with its CEO, Bernie Rosenthal.
Read more...

D-Wave Sells First Quantum Computer

On Wednesday, D-Wave Systems made history by announcing the sale of the world's first commercial quantum computer. The buyer was Lockheed Martin Corporation, who will use the machine to help solve some of their "most challenging computation problems." D-Wave co-founder and CTO Geordie Rose talks about the new system and the underlying technology.
Read more...

Short Takes

Local Motors and ORNL Partner for Automotive Manufacturing

Jan 24, 2014 | Local Motors, a vehicle innovator, and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have announced a new partnership that they hope will bring change to the automotive industry.
Read more...

Robots Showcase Skills at DRC

Jan 22, 2014 | A month ago, the DARPA Robotics Challenge Trials (DRC) commenced. The main goal of the event was to aid in the development of robots that will someday respond to natural or even man-made disasters. At this year’s DRC, prototype robots from 16 teams were put through a series of trials in which they were to showcase their skills.
Read more...

Advanced Modeling Benefits Wind Farms

May 25, 2011 | Advanced computing resources optimize the site selection of wind farms.
Read more...

Not Your Parents' CFD

Oct 13, 2010 | Outdated beliefs stand in the way of greater CFD adoption.
Read more...

Manufacturers Turn to HPC to Cut Testing Costs

Oct 06, 2010 | Supercomputing saves money by reducing the need for physical testing.
Read more...

Sponsored Whitepapers

Technical Computing for a New Era

07/30/2013 | IBM | This white paper examines various means of adapting technical computing tools to accelerate product and services innovation across a range of commercial industries such as manufacturing, financial services, energy, healthcare, entertainment and retail. No longer is technically advanced computing limited to the confines of big government labs and academic centers. Today it is available to a wide range of organizations seeking a competitive edge.

The UberCloud HPC Experiment: Compendium of Case Studies

06/25/2013 | Intel | The UberCloud HPC Experiment has achieved the volunteer participation of 500 organizations and individuals from 48 countries with the aim of exploring the end-to-end process employed by digital manufacturing engineers to access and use remote computing resources in HPC centers and in the cloud. This Compendium of 25 case studies is an invaluable resource for engineers, managers and executives who believe in the strategic importance of applying advanced technologies to help drive their organization’s productivity to perceptible new levels.

Conferences and Events

Featured Events



Copyright © 2011-2014 Tabor Communications, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Digital Manufacturing Report is a registered trademark of Tabor Communications, Inc. Use of this site is governed by our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.
Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Tabor Communications Inc. is prohibited.
Powered by Xtenit.