NAFEMS is now officially 25 years old! Whilst there has been some debate about the precise point in time at which NAFEMS came to life, it is generally acknowledged that the official launch was the meeting at the Café Royal in London in November 1983.
At the time, as NAFEMS was getting started, finite element analysis was just starting to enjoy widespread usage for industrial applications, and the general usage of computers within homes and offices was beginning to take off.
Now, 25 years on, computers dominate every office, and simulation technology is mature and is now an integral part of the mainstream design process. Or is it? Personally, I am of the firm opinion that FEA, CFD and other related technologies are still very much in their infancy: that engineers will look back in 25, 50 or even a hundred years from now and be amused at how crude and unreliable the methods of today are, when compared with the technology that is yet to come. The vision of a general engineer utilising simulation with little or no training, and without any guidance from a specialist has, to date, only been realised for a tiny percentage of applications. The technology itself continues to be developed at an ever-increasing rate, and the complexity of the applications which industry would (in an ideal world) like to tackle still comfortably exceeds the available capabilities.
Elsewhere in this issue, you can read a review of the NAFEMS 2020 event that took place recently, where many leading individuals from the world of simulation focused their attention on giving a meaningful prediction of the role that simulation might play in the society of 2020. Many of the delegates that were present told me that they had gained an invaluable insight in to the future. A clear picture emerged of simulation as a vibrant, healthy sector of industry. For me, one of the most fascinating presentations was given by Marc Halpern of Gartner, Inc who drew on trusted research to give a considered view of Product Performance Simulation in 2020. Within his talk**, he caused some amusement by putting up a table of predictions of future developments made in the 1980’s and showing that, whilst a few had been achieved, many of them still remain a long way off!
In the past 25 years simulation has come a long way, exploiting the spectacular advances in available computing power to drive substantial and tangible progress across a broad spectrum of engineering topics. In the future our industry will certainly be delivering even more benefits. In the present day and faced with the current challenges of economic turmoil, the role of simulation in helping to create better products more efficiently has surely never been more welcome.
** Marc’s presentation and accompanying abstract can be viewed by visiting www.nafems.org/halpern
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The International Congress on Simulation Technology for the Engineering Analysis Community moves to Crete, Greece for 2009.
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