NAFEMS Americas Conference 2016: Keynotes

NAFEMS Americas conference

NAFEMS is an international organization dedicated “to promoting the safe and reliable use of finite element and related technology”. Since its inception in 1983, NAFEMS has been a vendor neutral, not-for-profit, international membership association, owned by its members.

NAFEMS conference 2016Every two years NAFEMS holds its regional conferences and this year the Americas Conference was held in Seattle Washington, USA. The conference had 325 attendees from 18 countries which is twice the size of the 2014 conference and it makes the Americas conference the largest one this year. It provided 95 presentations from industry, software providers, researchers and academia, as well as ten training sessions.

The first day’s keynotes were presented by Dr. Halpern from Gartner and Joe Walsh from ASSESS. Both speakers pointed to the exploding use of simulation software due to software maturity, increased market competitiveness, increased regulations, and more complicated systems. With the increase in simulation usage the industry is also facing a lack of experts who are capable of understanding and using the tools correctly to provide reliable results.

One future trend that is hoping to bridge the gap between experts and other users are Smart Apps. Smart Apps cover a range of tools that could be very specific analysis tools that are almost plug and play, to adding knowledge into the current software that allows the expert knowledge and company procedures to be embedded into the tools.

Cloud-Based Computer-aided Engineering (CAE)

Two other disruptive trends that Dr. Halpern and Mr. Walsh see coming are cloud-based CAE and pay as you go pricing. Cloud-based CAE allows for greater access to your simulations whether you’re a single user wanting to work on a tablet, or a large design team spread across the world. Cloud-based simulation allows instant collaboration without software versions, licensing issues, or platform constraints. The pay as you go pricing model is very disruptive to the established CAE vendors. CAE software vendors are used to being able to charge tens of thousands of dollars for their software with annual maintenance fees in the range of 20% of the purchase price.

Although not called out by name, SimScale was shown on one of the slides when Dr. Halpern was talking about the disruptive nature of cloud CAE.

With over 95 presentations in just two and a half days it was impossible to see all the sessions.

Key Messages at NAFEMS Americas Conference 2016

The key messages of the conference were summarized by Dr. Rod Dreisbach of the Boeing Company (retired) on the last day. The key messages fall into the following categories:

  • System Modeling and Simulation
  • Predictive Analysis and Uncertainty Quantification
  • Computational Structural Mechanics
  • Multiphysics
  • Democratizing CAE

NAFEMS Dr. Halpern from Gartner and Joe WalshThe area of System Modeling and Simulation saw growth in a new paradigm: Thinking of a product as a number of cross-dependent systems. An increase in model based simulation, analysis, and systems engineering was shown. Including an increase in cross-technology simulations; coupling analysis, optimization, build, test, and certification. Advanced techniques were shown for concurrent simulation and co-simulation.

Predictive Analysis and Uncertainty Quantification shows an increasing demand for qualified fidelity of simulation results, addressing manufacturing product design issues and correlating with physical test data. A method of using calculated confidence levels (reliabilities) and sensitivities to replace “Safety Factor” was discussed.

Computational Structural Mechanics had several presentations on advanced modeling of composite structures with damage assessment. New methodology for modeling, optimizing, and analyzing contact, fasteners, fracture, noise, vibration, and additive manufacturing were showcased. A new method for multiscale modeling and analysis was shown.

The Multiphysics seminars showed advanced methods for performing cross-functional concurrent simulation and co-simulation, spanning thermal, acoustics, noise, vibration, fluid-structure, and CFD.

Democratizing CAE was a topic in the keynotes as well as several seminars. Much of the focus was on increasing the growth in deploying simulation application with embedded knowledge for performing engineering processes (focusing on smart apps for non-expert analyst to exploit CAE tools by a larger workforce). Simulation-based knowledge capture and reuse was also discussed.


NAFEMS has over fifteen working groups that promote the safe and reliable use of Computer-aided Engineering. NAFEMS has also published many books on the topics of CAE and it offers many classes on various topics related to the field. The Americas conference highlighted much of the work these groups have done over the past two years and it showed the organization’s desire to improve the state of Computer-aided engineering, FEA, Computational Fluid Dynamics, and more.

If you’d like to read more about NAFEMS, check out the organisation’s website here

SimScale is the world's first cloud-based simulation platform, enabling you to perform CFD, FEA, or thermal analyses. Sign up for the 14-day free trial and join the community of 70 000 engineers and designers. No payment data required.