As the year 2012 comes to a close, I’d like to look back on some of my favorite “top 5″ engineering technology news articles from the past several months – you know, in case someone missed one!
Enjoy and Happy New Year!
- F1 Engineering and Computational Fluid Dynamics Explained
- Meet the Fastest, Most Powerful Science Machine in the World: Titan Supercomputer
- In Disneyland, Even A Gingerbread House Can Be Scary
- When Smart Cars Get Street Smart
- When Two Plus Two Makes More Than Four
Cockrell School of Engineering
F1 Engineering and Computational Fluid Dynamics Explained
Back in a mid-November roundup, I highlighted a piece where, Dipankar Choudhury, vice president of research at ANSYS, breaks down computational fluid dynamics (CFD) in layman’s terms and explains how it plays a starring role in the F1 racing industry.
F1 is considered by most to be the pinnacle of motor sports – their investments in best-in-class technology are substantial to give them an edge over the competition. CFD simulation is critical for teams to make little tweaks here and there that can earn even hundredths of a second in improved lap time.
In the months leading up to a race, engineers will collect loads of data about the performance of the car — one key area of experiment is turbulent drag, which is created by the downward force on a car and can slow it down. Engineers will also spend a good amount of their time optimizing a car in a different ways depending on the number of turns and straights a given track has.
In the long run — experts see CFD playing an increasing role in F1 motor sports and relying less on wind tunnel testing.
You could say that we know a thing or two about high-performance computing (HPC) here at ANSYS – which is why I picked this piece back in early November to bring to our blog readers.
Titan (the world’s fastest, most powerful scientific machine supercomputer) sits in a Department of Energy (DOE) laboratory in Tennessee. The size of a basketball court, it has seemingly incomprehensible compute power: it would be like if each of the world’s 7 billion people were to solve 3 million math problems per second. To better help you wrap your mind around just how fast Titan is, it would take 60,000 years for 1,000 people working at a rate of one calculation per second to complete the number of calculations that Titan can process in a single second.
That supercomputer also has a super price tag: $100 million (plus $9 million a year in electric bills — yet it’s also considered pretty energy efficient).
According to BBC, “Anyone spending more than 15 minutes in the same room with the Titan supercomputer must wear earplugs or risk permanent hearing damage.”
And what’s the purpose? To save the world, of course. No, seriously. The DOE wants to kill all known diseases, solve the world’s energy problems and understand the functioning of living cells — all of which need fast, brute-force computing power.
Back in mid-October, Halloween was fast approaching and I was curious to see what bright-minded engineers do in celebration of one of my favorite holidays — and I stumbled across this little gem!
Every year in the fall, Disneyland and Disney World are reinvented in the spirit of Halloween. Ghouls, ghosts pumpkins and the like are spread out every where and music from our favorite scary cartoons and movies are pumped throughout the parks.
But, something you may not know is that every year for the past 12 years, Disney engineers have gotten together and created eccentric Halloween gingerbread houses in an event called the “Haunted Mansion Holiday.” Visitors can find their creations displayed in the ballroom of the Haunted Mansion in the parks!
Disney put out a video highlighting some of the gingerbread creations — take a look:
When Smart Cars Get Street Smart
Infotainment systems, internet access and satellite navigation have been all the rage in 2012 – which is why I chose this piece for my year-end roundup of interesting engineering technology news articles.
Vehicles these days have it all. But let’s not forget about the researchers and their engineering technology working to make sure safety enhancements aren’t left behind.
The University of Michigan Transportation Institute (UMTRI) and the U.S. Department of Transportation(U.S. DOT) plan to install 3,000 wireless devices into 3,000 cars, trucks, buses, traffic lights etc. in Ann Arbor, Michigan, during a year-long $22 million smart-car testing program. The goal is to test how this wireless technology will operate in the real world.
For example, data will be transmitted among these devices and drivers will be alerted — via an audio or visual cue inside the cabin — to a potential accident or hazard that another connected device detected.
There are some pretty interesting societal benefits could arise from this effort: Beyond individual driver safety, fewer accidents theoretically should reduce traffic along with their associated environmental and economic costs. According to a report from the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) based on U.S. traffic congestion data for 2010 and prior years, commuter delays cost more than $100 billion, or nearly $750 for every commuter in the United States. UMTRI Director Peter Sweatman also said that connected vehicle technology has the ability to address as much as 80 percent of crashes of unimpaired drivers and greatly reduce carbon emissions.
When Two Plus Two Makes More Than Four
Simulation is the name of our game here at ANSYS, which is why I think this feature in Desktop Engineering that talks about multiphysics analysis deserves a second look this week.
“The value of coordinated simulation – kind of like multiphysics analysis on steroids.” I must say that from a creative perspective, I absolutely love this subtitle!
Multiphysics analysis is something that we’ve been preaching about for a while now here at ANSYS — our own Barry Christenson (director of product marketing) had a prominent role in this Desktop Engineering piece, but that’s not why I’m including it in my roundup. I’m including it because traditional simulation packages are fundamentally changing—not only to help different disciplines work with the same models, but also to share the results across higher level collaborations. All signs are pointing to this approach becoming a necessity of the future — with a rapidly changing marketplace, a systems-level view of simulation is needed for engineers to keep up and not lag behind.