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ANSYS BLOG

April 28, 2022

Academia Evolves to Meet Industry Demand for Simulation

There is a unifying belief gaining momentum across engineering disciplines and fields from academia to industry: Training in simulation technology is critical.

In fact, higher education institutions are integrating simulation into engineering curricula more and more each year. Many universities gain access to affordable software for use in the classroom or in research through the Ansys Academic Program, while other learners directly access Ansys’ free student downloads to explore simulation on their own.

Still, members of academia feel more awareness is needed to establish simulation education as a core requirement in engineering curricula at the undergraduate level. At the forefront of this initiative are thousands of dedicated engineering educators around the world who transform their classrooms, teaching styles, and lesson plans every day to integrate more cutting-edge simulation tools and hands-on learning. Course by course, these academic leaders are vying to bridge the skills gap in the engineering industry by preparing aspiring engineers in the most engaging and effective ways with the tools they need to succeed after graduation and solve some of the world’s most complex problems.

Some of these simulation enthusiasts will discuss this effort at the virtual Simulation World 2022 conference on May 18 as part of the “How Academia is Shaping the Future” track. With 11 speakers from top universities and educational institutions, this corner of the conference will highlight how — and why — academic leaders are making a case for simulation to become a fundamental component of every aspiring engineer’s academic experience.

Digital: It’s Virtually Everywhere

Let’s look at high-speed digital engineering. This field requires more than basic technical knowledge about connectivity, according to Eric Bogatin, an adjunct professor at the University of Colorado-Boulder (UCB). Bogatin, who also serves as the dean of the Signal Integrity Academy, says there are critical elements to consider in such fast-paced digital communication links, including signal integrity, power integrity, and electromagnetic interference. More importantly, he says there are not enough engineers trained with these skills to fill the industry’s emerging needs, which could impact national security.

Adding to this problem, defense-related industries have an even bigger challenge due to hiring restrictions from the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) that limit the candidate pool to U.S. citizens only. Furthermore, the proportion of high-speed digital engineers who are also U.S. citizens is below 30% and decreasing every year, he adds.

To mend this gap, UCB will launch a new master’s degree program in high-speed digital engineering in 2023 that will integrate and feature Ansys’ best-in-class electronics simulation.

Attend Simulation World to hear Bogatin’s proposal to remedy the dilemma on an even greater scale by having the Department of the Defense issue government-funded scholarships to entice and support U.S. citizens to get advanced degrees in electrical engineering.

But even engineers outside of electronics are pleading the case for simulation integration in the classroom. To learn more about this leg of the initiative, check out “Undergraduate Digital Wonderland [Simulation in Lecture-based Courses]” from Ivana Milanovic, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Hartford.

In this presentation, Milanovic will demonstrate how digital engineering and simulation are essential skills in today’s engineering industry across all disciplines. As such, Milanovic asserts that implementing computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and finite element analysis (FEA) tools into core engineering curricula not only improves the quality of learning for students in the classroom, but also prepares them for industry after graduation.

“Irrespective of which kind of engineer you are — a mechanical engineer, electrical, or any other specialty — you will have to have a knowledge of simulations in your professional career,” she said in a previous blog. “It is inevitable at this point.”

Hand Me That Tool, Please

Bogatin and Milanovic will be joined by nearly a dozen other academic figures who echo their feelings. Rajesh Bhaskaran, director of the Swanson Engineering Simulation Program at Cornell University, will discuss the need to close the gap between conventional engineering programs, which consist of topic-based learning, with project-based learning programs that incorporate hands-on learning with simulation tools.

Topic-based learning, says Bhaskaran, focuses primarily on simple geometries and linear physics that can be solved via hand calculations or short computer programs, whereas project-based learning gives students an opportunity to learn engineering the way it is practiced in industry. While select project teams involve more complex geometries and nonlinear physics, standard engineering courses generally do not.

To make simulation more accessible, Cornell has developed virtual certificate programs in collaboration with Ansys that are designed to serve both college students and working professionals.

“Simulation is a disruptive technology that can be used to transform engineering curriculum at the university level,” said Bhaskaran in a press release. “As simulation becomes a standard for teaching physics, nearly every engineering graduate should be able to use simulation software effectively. Together with Ansys, we look forward to preparing engineers with the simulation skillset they need.”

Globally, the sentiment is the same. The Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IITB) recently created a course to provide students with hands-on simulation experience through a semester-long project to analyze ventilation in shared on-campus learning spaces. Students were able to apply the CFD theory they learned in the classroom to a relatable real-life challenge that affected all students returning to campus after the pandemic.

In “Enhancing Student Learning with Hands-on, Socially Relevant Projects,” hear Janani Srree Murallidharan of IITB detail the impact of incorporating such projects into engineering courses for overall learning outcomes, student engagement, and career readiness. 

Building Brighter Futures with Simulation

Additional simulation advocates from academia presenting at the event include:

  • Daewook Kim, The University of Arizona
  • Yu Feng, Oklahoma State University
  • Gregory Huff, Penn State University
  • Shuvo Roy, University of California, San Francisco
  • Jayanta Kapat, University of Central Florida
  • Chris Whitmer, Parametric Studio
  • Adel Nasiri, University of South Carolina
  • Bert Blocken, Eindhoven University of Technology and KU Leuven (Earth Rescue Track)
  • Ken Craig, Univeristy of Pretoria (Earth Rescue Track)

Simulation World is just one of several annual Ansys events designed to inspire, educate, and demonstrate how simulation enables innovators locally and globally to bring their ideas to life by developing world-changing products and technologies. The event is open to anyone with advance registration, including students, professors, researchers, engineers, management, and thought leaders. Register for Simulation World today!

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