A Very Different Kind of Startup

In the Pacific Northwest there is a very different kind of startup emerging in the shadows of Microsoft, Amazon and Boeing. Hardware is being built, software is being written, and deadlines are being made (and sometimes missed). But this startup in Tacoma, Washington is not fixed on competing with their friendly giant neighbors to the north. To the contrary, its “employees” aspire to work for them one day. That’s because this startup is no company at all. Rather it’s a high school that just completed its first year.

The School of Industrial Design, Engineering and the Arts, better known as iDEA, runs on an innovative concept that invites local businesses into the school as a partnership. Working as mentors or adjunct instructors, these “community partners” work directly with the students in a project-based learning framework. The projects may range from developing software apps, to wooden boats, to bicycles, to guitar pedals. One look around the reconfigured gymnasium packed with CNC machines, lathes, and countless other tooling equipment and it’s easy to see how serious they are. They are going to build stuff — lots of it! Continue reading

Embedding ANSYS AIM into a STEM Education

In a high school classroom, we battle constantly against a storm of changing technologies, competing educational needs, time and materials. As technology advances and industries change, educators do their best to keep students competitive and prepared for these changes. It becomes increasingly difficult, though, to develop meaningful challenges for students because of the cost of materials and other resources.

At the same time, it is challenging to justify the time and importance of your content against other subjects in the school, such as math or science. With the power of ANSYS AIM and ANSYS SpaceClaim, the technology education classroom has been given an important tool to fight back against the storm. Continue reading

Pretty and Smart – STEM Issues

I am always thinking about women in engineering, and how to get young girls more involved in STEM, and some of the challenges they’re faced with. Today I’d like to share a story along that same vein. It’s a little long, but please bear with me, there’s a point. I promise.

A few weeks ago I was on vacation with my family and in-laws. Among the ten of us, was my 11 year old niece, I’ll call her “Miss M.” One evening, we were on our way out to dinner after swimming, waiting for the elevator. I checked my appearance in the mirror and scowled. I have hyper-pigmentation on my face that appears almost as dark tear streaks on my cheeks. I also have mild rosacea that causes redness around my nose. I started wearing make-up regularly just over a year ago to even out my skin tone and have become used to my made-up look. I scowled because the hyper-pigmented parts of my skin were readily apparent in the lobby light. Continue reading

Eighth Grade Engineers and STEM

I am feeling excited and a bit worried today. Recently, I had the pleasure of hosting a young lady, I’ll just call her Miss E, as part of a job shadow program we do with local 8th grade students interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). Miss E had an enthusiasm for engineering and learning about engineering, mechanical engineering and robotics in particular, that was contagious.

girls in STEMShe easily grasped engineering concepts, asked excellent questions, and amazed me with her computer skills. She had the ability to extend what I taught her about engineering simulation at the start of our time together and her own life experience to the fluid dynamics and structural mechanics tutorials she did during our meeting. Miss E has had several other excellent opportunities to be exposed to engineering and each one seems to add to her excitement and commitment to an engineering education after high school. Continue reading

Games: An Abstraction of Reality

Abstraction is a fundamental principle of engineering. It allows engineers to ignore the seemingly infinite number of details about reality that don’t impact the solution to a problem, and instead focus on the few details that do affect the problem. The simplified problem is (hopefully) easier to solve. But abstraction is not limited to the field of engineering. Most of us make useful abstractions each day.

Whether a professional sport or a chess match in the park, games provide us with a very useful abstraction of reality. We can worry only about how to hit a round ball with a round bat, or determine only how to deal with the Queen’s Gambit while we blissfully ignore the rest of reality (if only for a few minutes).


But games provide more benefit than just the occasional leisure time activity. Educators have found that games can be a useful vehicle for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. In the same way engineers have used abstractions for centuries to progress technology, educators have now begun to use an abstraction to educate the next generation of engineers. At ANSYS, we are proud to support games that promote STEM education, like BAJA SAE India and BEST Robotics. Continue reading

This Week’s Top 5 Engineering Technology News Articles

Happy Friday, folks!  This week’s roundup of the latest engineering technology news happens to have a theme – space and education. I didn’t intend for it to be this way, it just happened! There is lots of interesting content floating around this week, from new games being launched to teach kids how to code and the UK figuring out they need more engineers, to algae being researched as a potential alternative fuel source by NASA and the first simulation of asteroid exploration.

And remember, if you come across an interesting engineering or engineering technology article that you think should be included in my weekly roundup, feel free to send it over: social@ansys.com

For the instant gratification types:

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