I think it’s gone the opposite way.
Never before have we been able to interact, discuss, ruminate and hypothesise about everything and anything. Our hyper-connected world allows us access to the thoughts and opinions of millions of people we’ve never even met, let alone would trust to make decisions for us. What’s happened is that, in our search for “the answer”, all we’ve done is create a never-ending repository of minds which will cause us to ask more questions the more we think about it. Analysis and simulation have progressed so rapidly that we find ourselves constantly asking “Is that right? How do I know that’s accurate? How can I get even-more correct?” I’m sure that’s not the response that the developers of the technology wanted their products to elicit. They’re striving to be ever-more accurate, to be ever-more “unquestioning”, yet we the users simply ask more questions when they provide more accurate answers.
This issue of benchmark asks questions of varying importance, ranging from “does multi-physics make fools of us all?”, to the more easily answered “is an engineer more dateable when dressed in Prada instead of hand-me-downs?”. And that’s a big part of NAFEMS’ role (not the style-advice part, unfortunately). To question. To allow you a forum to question the products, the technology, the accuracy of results, and the very processes you go through each day in order to carry out your work.That’s why forums such as the NAFEMS World Congress are so important. Yes, there are many presentations that will tell you how a particular problem was solved, using a particular piece of software and methodology, but the beauty of these events is that for every presentation extoling the virtues of a particular method, there is always a question at the end which leaves the presenter having to “get back to you off-line” (i.e. “hands-up – you’ve got me”).
What the past thirty years of NAFEMS has done is to give you the forums, the opportunities, and the outlets to question if what you’re being told is the definitive answer. And you know what? That is the only way to push anything forward. Until someone is asked a question they can’t answer, or haven’t thought of before, they’ll gladly take credit for producing something that is emphatically correct. And then, when they’re asked that question, they have to go back and make the thing better. Make it more robust. Make sure that there’s even less scope for that awkward ‘curveball’ question the next time they present their wares.
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