Bridging the Gap Between Industry and Academia in Simulation Technology

By Sophia Jin

Simulation technology has come a long way in recent years and plays an important role in revolutionizing many industries. The aerospace industry is among one of the sectors that has benefited from the success of simulation applications to date. This episode of “Innovation in the Classroom” welcomes two experts in simulation technology; Jonas Edman, business development consultant of Simcenter academic solutions, and Dr. Tom Stoumbos, simulation and test leader at Northrop Grumman, a pioneering company responsible for some of the world’s most advanced products. Tune in to the podcast to hear their insights on the role of simulation technology in aerospace engineering and the importance of partnering with academia and other industry partners when it comes to innovation!

The evolution of simulation technology

Jonas and Tom start off this episode by discussing the past, present, and future of simulation technology in aerospace engineering. Tom shares his experience with the increased use of simulation technology in the aerospace industry, noting how the ability to simulate products and concepts in real time has streamlined testing and design. He explains how the ability to run simulations in parallel with the design process reduces risk for launches and helps put products on the market quicker. Furthermore, Tom illustrates how modern-day technology like the digital twin and artificial intelligence are powerful assets for complex operations and decision-making in industry. However, he also asserts that artificial intelligence can never replace human creativity, and that engineers are comparable to artists in that they need to comprehend the physical and mathematical underpinnings of simulation models and understand how these models are put together.

The importance of innovation in industry and the role of academia

Tom also shares his thoughts on what drives innovation in the aerospace industry and how academia can have a positive impact. He notes how private funding allows for more innovation and less constraint compared to government-driven initiatives, which has cultivated a surge in space applications, including communication, exploration, mining, and infrastructure. Tom and Jonas also discuss the role of academia when it comes to innovation. Tom explains how academia plays a significant role in innovation by providing valuable contributions that are not bound by industry constraints. Thus, collaborating with academia can allow for the infusion of new ideas and concepts into products, improving their quality. Tom encourages engineers to continue their education and engage with academia to stay updated on technological advancements and new concepts. He suggests that collaboration between experienced senior engineers and creative, youthful minds brings real-life problem solving skills and innovative thinking to the industry. Moreover, this collaboration also benefits academia by providing students with a real-world engineering environment that teaches them how to appreciate an interdisciplinary perspective and be better team players.

Bringing the real-life reality and problems along with the creativity of the youthful minds; I think it’s a recipe for great success.

Tom Stoumbos

Northrop Grumman and Siemens collaboration

Tom has been working with Northrop Grumman to simulate and test complex space vehicles, and recently Siemens was selected as a top supplier for the company. Tom shares the lessons he has learned from the Northrop Grumman and Siemens collaboration. He brings up the fact that Siemens shares a similar mindset as his team regarding the value of partnerships and collaborations; just as Northrop Grumman sees the benefit of working with universities and engineers, Siemens also engages with universities and exhibits similar energy. Furthermore, Siemens provides tools that empower them to develop innovative designs that align with the mission objectives for their customers. Simultaneously, Siemens’ support system enables them to understand how to use these complex tools effectively. Through this collaboration, Northrop Grumman’s engineers have gained a better understanding of mathematics, physics, algorithms, and how Siemens’ algorithms and tools come together to run simulations and create space vehicles.

The future of simulation technology

Tom and Jonas close this episode with a discussion on the future of simulation technology. Tom expresses an interest in innovating the manufacturing process, mentioning the possibility for launching individual parts and assembling them in space itself. He explains the importance of fully embracing the virtual world and digital transformation in order to realize these kinds of innovative advancements. He also emphasizes that collaboration between industry and other sectors drives this future innovation. Small businesses play a significant role in the industry, transitioning innovative research and ideas from universities and contributing to the larger industry. Tom highlights Siemens as an example of a company that brings together great minds from smaller industries to create sophisticated tools and solutions. In addition, the collaboration between industry and academia is crucial in driving innovation and making concepts a reality. He believes that giving students the opportunity for real-world experiences can drive creativity and bridge the gap between theoretical learning and hands-on practical application.

Tune in to the full episode to hear more about Tom’s thoughts on simulation technology and the collaboration between academia and the aerospace industry!


Jonas Edman:

Tom Stoumbos:

Innovation in the Classroom Podcast Podcast

Innovation in the Classroom Podcast

Innovation in the Classroom by Siemens explores best practices to empower the next generation of digital talent. In this podcast series, Dora Smith takes you through discussions with leading voices from the world of engineering education who are preparing future engineers in Academia 4.0 to shape the world of innovation.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at https://blogs.sw.siemens.com/podcasts/innovation-in-the-classroom/bridging-the-gap-between-industry-and-academia-in-simulation-technology/