Designing Engineers

What if the Wright Brothers had tested their flying machine on a computer before launching it on a North Carolina beach? They could have drastically shortened the time from idea to working prototype.

As part of a $320 million U.S. government initiative, researchers in Oregon State’s Design Engineering Laboratory will apply the time-saving benefits of computer design and testing to new manufacturing products and processes.

“In design, the idea is to fail early and often, so that we succeed sooner,” says Matt Campbell, professor of mechanical engineering and a leader in the initiative. “Our digital tools will predict performance and where failure will occur, and reduce or eliminate the need for costly prototypes. Then we’ll use 3-D printers and other tools to automate and streamline actual manufacturing.”

Advances have already been made at OSU in failure propagation analysis, verification tools, automated machining and assembly planning.

The initiative is led by UI Labs of Chicago. Industrial partners include General Electric, Rolls-Royce and Microsoft. Through the Oregon State University Advantage program, OSU will continue to apply results with companies such as PCC Structurals, Blount International, Daimler Trucks, Intel and HP.