Cornell University’s College of Engineering and ANSYS are training future engineers worldwide to become proficient in engineering simulation solutions. Through the SimCafe wiki, which was developed in part with National Science Foundation support, students at Cornell and elsewhere are preparing themselves for success by learning to use – for free – the same tools utilized by thousands of engineers in virtually every industry. ANSYS donated the simulation software for the development of the site.
SimCafe has helped integrate simulation into 12 mechanical and aerospace engineering courses at Cornell. Outside of the university, SimCafe has attracted more than 130,000 visitors from more than 150 countries including users from over 170 educational institutions.
“The effective integration of industry-standard simulation tools with traditional engineering education makes learning more practical and engaging,” said Rajesh Bhaskaran, director of engineering simulation at Cornell’s Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. “It also gives students unprecedented opportunities to learn in a self-paced, hands-on manner not only simulation but also core engineering concepts. This helps us better prepare students for the modern engineering workplace.”
A series of learning modules is available for free online and runs with ANSYS software. Using SimCafe, students engage in a systematic process for checking results, including comparing to their hand calculations. Many of the SimCafe modules juxtapose traditional textbook content with the numerical approach that ANSYS software uses. SimCafe includes a template that contributors can use to create new tutorials for the site. The template ensures that tutorials follow a standard format and use best practices in instruction even though they are developed by different authors.
“When I arrived at Cornell a decade ago, Dr. Bhaskaran and I collaborated on integrating ANSYS® Fluent® into our Intermediate Fluid Mechanics class,” said Lance R. Collins, dean of engineering at Cornell. “The experiment was incredibly successful, as students found they could more easily grasp difficult concepts by exploring them with the software. SimCafe takes that experiment to a whole new level. I am thrilled to now see our early success replicated across so many different classes and projects worldwide.”
Added Murali Kadiramangalam, director of the academic program at ANSYS, “We are proud to help a leading institution like Cornell prepare engineering students worldwide to use the latest engineering simulation software. In developing a high comfort level with these product development tools before entering the workforce, students will be more valuable to their employers and more satisfied in their careers.”