The Power of Simulation

By Dean ~ November 30th, 2008. Filed under: Modeling, Systems Engr..

Dr. Joel Orr, Chief Visionary (what a cool title!) at Cyon Research Corp wrote a compelling justification for incorporating simulation into your design process.

“Why fake anything? Because it’s easier, cheaper, and faster to create a simulacrum than the thing itself. Because you want to be able to try things out in a space more forgiving than reality that lets you test concepts and ideas quickly and inexpensively. So when you produce the physical object, what you make will be close to the concept you had in mind at the beginning.”

Dr. Orr continues with, perhaps, the most interesting segment of his article.

“What’s keeping most designers from trying out simulation? My guess: Fear. Designers believe the software takes too long to learn and is too hard to understand. Even worse, they think time spent learning the software will weigh down their already overloaded schedules. Designers already know how to do their job. What’s in it for them to take on the challenges of learning simulation?

How about that doing so enhances your value to your employer and your customers. It also keeps you on the leading edge of the profession. And it enhances a resume, should the need arise to move elsewhere.”

This resonates with my experience at Foresight.  We often find that we’re spending as much time selling the benefits of simulation and modeling as we are the strengths of our own tool set.  As a true believer in the power of simulation to enable tradeoff analysis, confirm that designs meet requirements and to identify potential defects, I have to confess that this resistance to the concept of simulation is a new experience for me.  I suspect, however, that as system complexity continues to increase, as does the cost of failure, simulation will simply become a no-brainer.


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