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ODU's Noor and CAEE Have Prominent Roles in International Computer-Aided Engineering Summit

Ahmed Noor, the Old Dominion University William E. Lobeck Professor of Aerospace Engineering and director of the Center for Advanced Engineering Environments (CAEE), will deliver a keynote address and host tours of CAEE when NAFEMS, the influential international arbiter of standards in computer-aided engineering, comes to Hampton Oct. 29-31 to hold its 2008 North American Regional Summit.

About 200 industry leaders, researchers, and software and hardware developers will participate in the meeting, which is being billed as having one of the most innovative agendas ever for visionaries interested in how the engineering simulation industry will evolve between now and 2020. One thread of the conference will involve a Boeing Co. PLASVEE Challenge to solicit approaches to the computer-aided design of a futuristic personal land-air-sea vehicle.

"We at ODU are very pleased that we can open our doors at CAEE to the summit participants and demonstrate our work," said Noor, who is one of the eight members of the meeting's organizing committee. "And by all means, we want to be very active in the PLASVEE Challenge."

Noor's summit-opening keynote address, "Pathway to Future Computer-Aided Engineering Technologies and Their Role in Ambient Intelligent Environments," will be at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 29. The CAEE tours will be held in stages between 4:30 and 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 30.

Other keynote addresses will be by Takeshi Abe of Ford Motor Co., Tom Hughes of the University of Texas-Austin, Mary Boyce of MIT and Joel Orr of Cyon Research Corp. Full agenda and contact information is at www.nafems.org/events/2008/naregionalsummit/agenda. Individuals who are not registered for the full summit will be allowed to make arrangements to attend sessions that interest them.

NAFEMS is an independent, not-for-profit organization that helps to maintain standards in computer-aided engineering analysis, and, more specifically, in finite-element analysis. The organization was founded 25 years ago as the National Agency for Finite Element Methods and Standards by the United Kingdom's National Engineering Laboratory. It has since adopted the acronym for its name and become an independent, vendor-neutral organization.

In the early 1980s, with industry turning increasingly to computers to solve practical engineering problems, questions arose about the reliability of software implementations. NAFEMS sprang from the UK's desire to promote the safe and reliable use of finite-element and related technologies. Initial efforts concentrated on developing benchmarks against which stress analysis codes could be tested. NAFEMS published the results of these benchmarks for a variety of codes, and the software industry responded by adopting the tests as a method of improving and verifying the accuracy of codes. Today, NAFEMS is the premier global organization dedicated to the advancement and improvement of engineering simulation.

The summit, which will be held at the Hampton Roads Convention Center, will include a first-of-its-kind "Vendor Forum" in which representatives of 13 companies involved in computer simulation will sit together on a panel exploring standardization issues and ways to improve outcomes for end users. Other subjects on the agenda are in the broad areas of 1) business developments to increase the financial impact of computer-aided engineering investments, 2) technical developments to improve speed, accuracy, reliability, accessibility, and applicability of results, and 3) human issues, including teaching simulation as part of the basic engineering curricula.

A recent article in Mechanical Engineering magazine credited CAEE and Noor with the development of "computer-based tools intended to stretch the imagination and address the subtleties of the relationship between a user and a machine."

Among the technologies being developed and tested at CAEE are those that allow people to communicate orally with computers. Unlike clumsy voice-activation systems of the past, these new interfaces are much more like person-to-person communications. A user can speak a command to a computer-generated avatar-an animated, human-like figure-that responds much like a human would. If the computer has understood the command, the avatar smiles and nods. If it has not understood, the avatar frowns and displays the body language of frustration. A similar CAEE avatar can broker Internet searches and provide search-engine results in ways that are especially customized for the user.

CAEE is located in the Peninsula Higher Education Center in Hampton.

This article was posted on: October 14, 2008

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