SSA Blog

Big Science, Art and Illusion: The 2015 SCC

Posted by Laurence Marks

This has become an annual feature of my blogging.  The post SCC round up.  Well the bits I can remember, because to be honest some of it is a bit of a blur.  

Lets get the lightweight stuff out of the way first.  I have, if you read back through my postings, been somewhat dismissive of the entertainment laid on at previous DS events; the plumbers from Dusseldorf with their ersatz Jake and Elwood show being perhaps the most memorable.  Any right thinking person’s blood should run cold at the thought of a magic show.  You’ll like this etc.. But the act on Wednesday night at the gala dinner was amazing, even if there was a view on our table that some of the people called on to the stage were not, shall we say, very familiar.

After last year, where some of the content was greeted with a level of enthusiasm appropriate to German artisans singing Soul Man, this year was right back on track.  Day one keynotes:  Airbus and Max Plank Institute.  I’m sure all the presentation material will surface elsewhere in due course, so I’ll just make 3 comments. 1. The sheer scale of Airbus models never fails to impress.  If you can show a picture which is the finite element version of my view on the way to Berlin you are doing something quite impressive. 2. If Airbus really do fly those 3D printed parts I’ve lost a bet.  And 3. Who could fail to be impressed by Martin Hilchenbach from the Max Planck Institute? Rocket Science; equations and multi-body dynamics all delivered with a heavy German accent.  Just like rocket science should be.  And the pictures of the comet his lander landed on looked simply stunning when projected at “conference scale”.

Technology?  Well for me the stand out was the 3D printing process modeling.  As somebody who’s got into this “out of hours” and isn’t unfamiliar with some of the issues this production process brings to the party, seeing the Simulia developers tackling this in the virtual domain was really very interesting.  Especially as, even though I’m a late convert to this, 3D printing will become a mainstream production process, and the impact of production on material properties and residual stresses will be as important with this process as any other.  Great stuff. 

The Exxon keynote seemed to have been reworked by the corporate marketing machine, but was nothing if not topical.  Fracking is a technology which could be said to divide opinion.  But as a technical exercise, and one which simulation has a huge role in, it is both fascinating and challenging.  And it’s plain that the developers have been doing significant work to increase the capabilities of Abaqus for these applications.  

Thursday was labeled throwback Thursday.  And it largely featured Eric Waybrand doing the “what’s new in the next release” talk that was a favorite in years gone by.  Again, without going into details that will be repeated elsewhere it looks like there is some more impressive solver technology coming.  And something which will increasingly become a feature of our industry was a valedictory talk.  I first met Franz Peters, when he worked for MARC, which it has to be said was some time ago. As this was Franz’s last SCC he presented a history of simulation, illustrated with numerous personal references.  Rarely have I seen so much good will in a room – Franz, I’m sure, will be missed when he does retire. 

So as I said last year, the real value of these meetings is the opportunity to network with the DS staff you generally only get to email.  We had some great meetings, which moved SSA and customer projects forwards, and to be honest we also just had a great time. Too great one night, as the casualty rate on Thursday morning demonstrated.

So Berlin; as usual I spent the time talking, networking and watching technical presentations, which meant that I didn’t see anywhere near enough of Berlin, where they really seem to have turned architecture into an art form, maybe next time.

 The SCC 2015