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February 9, 2022

Academic Stimulation with Simulation: Equipping Tomorrow’s Engineers

Simulation is an integral part of product design and development, affecting a wide range of industries — from chemical processing and healthcare to automotive and aerospace. Employers are looking for entry-level engineers who can hit the ground running, which means engineering students need to know simulation.

Academic leaders are on the front lines of bridging any skills gap between what engineering graduates are taught and what they need to know on the job. Increasingly, they are making simulation an integral part of their curricula — and not just to teach theory, but to provide hands-on learning experiences.

Simulation Skills: A Must-Have

“The University of Connecticut is laser-focused on graduating engineers that have the skills to make a difference on day one of their careers,” says Jeongho Kim, an engineering professor at the University of Connecticut (UConn) via a press release. “We can identify the critical skills our engineering students will apply on the job, like simulation, so they can hit the ground running and keep up with the rapid pace of technological advancement.”  

One of UConn’s closest collaborators is the Connecticut Manufacturing Simulation Center (CMSC), a high-tech research center where Kim serves as director.

“Over the past several years, we’ve trained more than 1,200 undergraduate senior students, and had 34 industry projects with small and medium businesses, more than 75% of which required Ansys simulation solutions,” Kim says. “This has made a positive impact on the employers in our state and better sets our graduating engineers up for success as they begin their careers. We’re excited to continue growing our usage of Ansys within our curriculum.” 

Bridging the skills gap in the engineering industry by integrating the study of simulation into fundamental degree requirements is a common goal among academic leaders.

Student on laptop with DieQuench simulation

“At West Virginia University (WVU), we teach every Mechanical and Aerospace engineering student Ansys Mechanical as part of our core undergraduate curriculum,” says Terence Musho, an associate professor at WVU. “We know from past graduates and our industry partners that there is a growing need for these skills when entering the workforce. Because simulation is becoming more and more widely used, we are working to expand our use of Ansys simulation into other parts of our curriculum.”

The increasing popularity and widespread use of simulation is evident. At press time, an internet search returns more than 600 million results just for the word “simulation,” validating its relevance in today’s culture even beyond the engineering industry. Members of academia agree, viewing simulation as a crucial instrument in any field to solve challenges we otherwise couldn’t.

“Currently, human beings have numerous limits for the mathematical calculation of complex problems present in any industry, not to mention the lack of time to accomplish them,” says Dr. Enrique Sosa, President at the Universidad Aeronáutica en Querétaro (UNAQ) in Mexico. “For this reason, humans have developed solutions through numerical simulation. Therefore, knowing how to use and interpret these tools is essential for any highly qualified professional.”

Echoing this sentiment, some universities are staying ahead of the curve.

“We work closely with Ansys because usage of their technology is increasingly a skillset required by employers,” says Sundar Krishnamurty, an engineering department head at University of Massachusetts Amherst, via a press release. “For the last 20 years, every Mechanical Engineering student has graduated the UMass program with Ansys experience as part of their core engineering curriculum.” 

Beyond the Books, Lifelong Learning

Aspiring engineers are gaining an edge with Ansys’ free student software products. The downloadable products are a key component of the Ansys Academic Program, which helps bridge the skills gap in the engineering industry by equipping students with the tools they need. To date, the program includes students across more than 3,300 universities in 91 countries by providing universities with deeply discounted software for use in the classroom while supplying students with free resources for self-learning.

Students have five free software options:

1. Ansys Student

2. Ansys Discovery Student

3. Ansys Electronics Desktop Student

4. Ansys LS-DYNA Student

5. Ansys SCADE Student

Additionally, through its digital learning component, the program features more than 200 free Ansys Innovation Courses, which complement the free student downloads. Students can dive even deeper into subject matter by engaging with experts and peers through the Ansys Learning Forum.

Equipped with simulation tools, students gain hands-on experience discovering solutions instead of just reading about them.

“CMSC applies their advanced simulation experience to teach undergraduate engineering students the skills they need to make an immediate impact without relying on case studies in textbooks,” says Kim.

Further, by solving real-world challenges, students not only learn outside of books and lectures, but have the opportunity to incorporate simulation skills in a more well-rounded way, according to professionals.

“UNAQ has three main approaches to integrate numerical simulation into its academic curriculum: through laboratory subjects dedicated to simulation, through practices in subjects like aerodynamics, and through activities that promote the development of hard and soft skills,” says Dr. Sosa in a press release.

For example, the UNAQ iFly racing team uses Ansys’ simulation solutions to model flight performance by calculating finite elements and volumes.

In addition to its academic program, Ansys supports continued education for engineers at any stage of their career through free Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) offered by universities, including Cornell University.

“Through our Ansys Academic Program students gain access to cutting-edge simulation tools both in and out of the classroom to obtain practical experience, which prepares them to enter the engineering industry,” says Prith Banerjee, chief technology officer at Ansys and executive sponsor of the Ansys Academic Program. “We are proud to help make this happen and look forward to seeing what the next generation of engineers create.”

For more information about the program head to the Ansys Academic page to learn more.

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