Let Your Ideas Take Shape!

By James Dagg, Vice President – Product Development, Altair

When I was in high school and considering career choices, I had it easy. I only considered one option: becoming an engineer. My brothers and I spent our early years imagining, designing and building model planes, boats, go-carts, robots, furniture, electric motors, telescopes, ventriloquist dummies—you name it. Equipped with our father’s drafting equipment, basement workshop and unbounded encouragement we spent countless hours learning that it takes a lot of creativity and redesign to turn a concept into a reality. I eventually earned engineering degrees and entered the CAE world where I spent two decades using and creating CAE tools. I love CAE. Simulation and optimization are amazing stuff. And CAE truly makes our world better. Engineers with the right tools can do real magic.

But I have to confess that, in the world of CAE, I’ve often missed the satisfaction I felt at my father’s drafting board and in his workshop. We all get new design ideas we want to see come to life. Whether you’re a designer trapped in an engineer’s body or you’re only in engineering for that math and physics buzz, you ought to have the tools to explore your design ideas when a flash of inspiration hits you. Alas, as a CAE specialist, your options often are limited. Sure, you’re a whiz with your CAE tools, but your inner designer needs to d-e-s-i-g-n, darn it. And how many of us really know how to use the clunky corporate CAD system or even get access to it? Yeah, Google SketchUp is free and simple, but you’re idea is more interesting than a box with a hole in it, right?

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