By Anthony J. Lockwood
Back in the late 1950’s when I was more interested in the test pattern giving way to Howdy Doody, nimble minds, such as Turner and Clough, advanced the idea that matrix methods could be applied to computers. Over the next decade or so at NASA and at universities, research, software jockeying, and specialized engineering instruction emerged. Then, R.H. MacNeal developed SADSAM (later to become NASTRAN) and SDRC (now part of UGS PLM Solutions) developed MACE FEA and offered them for sale.
During the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, FEA, CFD, and symbolic manipulation materialized and evolved ever more rapidly. And no sooner had the first IBM PCs hit the shelves, than ALGOR introduced the first FEA software for that venerable DOS-based computer. This was a sea change: Before that you were talking big iron mini and mainframes—Amdahl, Prime, DEC, and IBM—in air-conditioned rooms with static-suppressing floors. Now you were talking about engineering analysis on desktop computers in everyday office settings.
Then in 1988, Stephen Wolfram dragged Mathematica out of the salons of academia and into the spotlight of mass media attention, giving us CAS (computer algebra systems). And all of this analysis stuff kept emerging from there, faster and faster.
Now, another revolution is shaking up engineering analysis: The convergence of analysis with disciplines such as MCAD and PLM, running on grid-interconnected, thousand-buck desktop workstations, each more powerful than yesterday’s million-dollar computers. Engineers, says Greg Brown of ABAQUS in Vince Adams’s article on page 12, “… are looking for a more unified approach to bring various technologies and disciplines together.” They’re getting it. But what do you do now?
Convergence smudges boundaries and challenges engineering skills by reordering the toolset. The mission of DE’s Elements of Analysis is to begin to clarify these changes and provide you with the news and information you need to leverage the evolution in engineering analysis so that you will succeed at your work.
This first edition of DE’s Elements of Analysis, like a first try at most anything, is a prototype, an ugly duckling. But from humble beginnings, such as the launch of ANSYS from John Swanson’s garage in Pittsburgh, great things emerge when engineers join together to work, share ideas, what-if, and experiment. The Editors of Desktop Engineering invite your participation in this collective. Send me your thoughts, comments, raspberries, and especially your insights via email at the address below.
Thank you, and, again, welcome to Desktop Engineering’s Elements of Analysis.