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The most helpful phrase I’ve used over the past few years is ‘why?’. Colleagues will be groaning as I prepare to pull up my soapbox and engage in my favourite office rant. It has helped me gain clarity, force perspective, and ground ideas. I’ve called it a phrase rather than just a word, quite deliberately, because it stands on its own. “Why?” is acomplete question and one of the most pertinent you can ask. If it can be answered well, then everything is good, and you can keep calm and carry on. If answering it is a struggle, that tells its own story. If you can’t define why you’re doing something, proposing a change to something, or rejecting something, then you probably shouldn’t be doing it.
As we neared the end of our slow progress through the fog of 2020-2022 and started to look to “get back” to where we were before , “why?” really had a chance to shine. Many of us are now, at the very least, back in a central office part of the time. That’s mostly because we’ve asked ourselves the question and discovered that the answer isn’t necessarily to go back to exactly what we used to do. At NAFEMS, we asked ourselves about in-person events and large conferences –were we going back to them? The answer was loud and clear – yes. Why? In-person interaction with peers and colleagues ensures ideas, technologies, and standards progress quickly and effectively. The impact of a group of people with a shared interest and knowledge coming together to focus on that for a solid period of time, in one place, is huge. As I think we will all agree, you can’t replicate that properly in an online environment (yet). The critical point is that these choices are not binary – they’re not all or nothing. Working from home has its place as part of a hybrid work strategy, in the same way that time in a central office is valuable. Online conferences and webinars provide something different to in-person events and are just as valuable as part of a mix.
Last year, we held our first in-person World Congress since 2019, and its success was beyond our expectations (well, maybe not mine, but I have a bit of a reputation for optimism!). So, with great excitement, we’re looking to 2024 and a programme of regional conferences that is bigger than ever before. A bold move, maybe, but one which has passed the “why?” test with flying colours. Our community benefits massively from coming together at events like these, and the more local groups we can have actively taking part, the better for us all. The range of topics we’re looking at is constantly expanding, with AI (yes, I’m sick of the term too), Digital Twin, and Machine Learning taking centre stage. Why are we covering these? They’re the future. Every engineer needs to get ready (if they’re not there yet) for the impact these technologies will have, make sure they’re skilled up, and also have complimentary skills in areas such as verification and validation to make sure these new and exciting technologies are used correctly, safely, and in the proper context.
I urge you to submit your presentation for your local NAFEMS Regional Conference (NRC) and get involved. These will be fantastic events, and your involvement will make them richer still. Before that programme starts, our ASSESS Summit 2024 will happen in Atlanta, GA, in March. This gathering of expert minds in simulation will help guide and push the industry forward. Look at what is being discussed, who is participating, and register if you and your company want to be part of that discussion.
As we move beyond NAFEMS’ first 40 years into our next phase, we’re launching several new products, services, and experiments, all with the aim of furthering our goal to provide knowledge, international collaboration, and educational opportunities for the use and validation of engineering simulation. A few weeks ago, we launched our AI-Powered Direct Question search, Aiolas. This service, exclusive to NAFEMS members, will answer your simulation questions and point you towards the relevant NAFEMS resource you need to continue your research. Ask a direct question, and you’ll get a direct answer. Have a play with it – it will definitely surprise you!
As well as a leap into new technology, we’ve also launched EMAS – The NAFEMS Journal. This regular open-source journal will accept submissions from NAFEMS members and event attendees and is already receiving a great response. As is the new ‘NAFEMS for Students” section of our website, where a range of helpful resources are available for free, to all students.
And to round it off, our online Learning Hub, again exclusive to NAFEMS members, has been refreshed, revised, and relaunched, giving members access to a range of on-demand learning, all direct from the NAFEMS website.
Why? Because this is what NAFEMS is about – delivering value to our members and the wider community and driving simulation and analysis forward.
Enjoy this issue of benchmark.
David Quinn - Editor
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|10th January 2024