At this year’s Supercomputing conference, Ohio made its mark with a $6.4 million public-private initiative designed to bring high performance computing (HPC) to manufacturers of all sizes—particularly to those small-to-medium-sized companies for which the technologies are cost-prohibitive.
Led by the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC), the AweSim initiative will bring needs-based manufacturing apps along with the necessary support to companies that could benefit from advanced simulations, but lack the resources to implement them on their own.
As Bill Feieresien, a senior scientist and software architect for Intel, points out, the role AweSim expects to fill is the one created when high performance computing can’t be successfully implemented in smaller businesses in the same way that they are in national labs.
“In order to enable smaller companies to use high performance computing and modeling and simulation, let me tell you a story,” says Feiereisen. “Traditionally everyone has thought that the way that you taught and provided high performance computing done was the way that it’s done by the big laboratories—the NASAs, the Department of Energy. What we have discovered in working together with OSC is the fact that there are a couple of items that do not allow the delivery model of the big laboratories to be scaled down.”
Rather than burdening manufacturers with costly upfront investments in infrastructure, software licenses and engineers who are trained to use and maintain these tools, AweSim looks to bypass these initial investments, offering simulation resources instead through a combination of its web portal, online training and even in-person training.
“There are two primary things that we have worked together with OSC to be able to address in changing that model such that it’s appropriate for small companies,” Feiereisen continues. “One of those things is that we have to be able to actually show usage cases, case studios, ‘how-to’s—however you want to label that—that actually incorporate the business return on investment in going from an experimentally based product development to a computationally based one.”
“The second area, which seems to be perhaps more important than the first, is to be able to educate engineers as to how they can actually wield those tools,” says Feiereisen. “In the big laboratories, those laboratories are capable of maintaining very highly qualified staff. They are there all the time. They are the people who actually invented how it was done. But small companies are not capable of maintaining qualified staff like that. So we have to be able to package these things such that they can be purchased and implemented with much less effort.”
AweSim brings its service to manufacturers through the Nimbis Services Online Marketplace, which displays a small library of apps, each of which fills a unique role for modeling products or the manufacturing process itself. Once the user inputs the design specifications and defines the problem they’re looking to solve, AweSim outputs the results both in report and visual formats.
Among the initiative’s additional engineering services are support from Altasim, Kinetic Vision and Total Sim. AweSim also includes an app developer kit for companies looking to customize their toolset.
“You have the network speed, you have high performance computing at market rates, and you have other players that are up here—both engineering providers and other folks that are outside your industry—and that’s an ecosystem I do not have in any other state or at any other institution,” says Tom Lange, director of Modeling and Simulation at Procter & Gamble.
The initiative is funded with help from Ohio’s Third Frontier Commission, Procter & Gamble, Intel, AltaSim Technologies, TotalSim USA, Kinetic Vision and Nimis Services.