The ASSESS 2017 Congress took place November 1-3 in Potomac, MD. The second-annual congress was organized by the ASSESS Initiative to help shape engineering simulation product strategies for the next decade. The invitation-only event was limited to 150 people, and included simulation software vendors, industry consultants and end users who, after listening to daily keynotes, broke into small groups to discuss topics related to supporting a revolution in engineering simulation.
Day one’s keynote was presented by Tina Morrison, Ph.D., deputy director, Division of Applied Mechanics, Office of Science and Engineering Laboratories, Center for Devices and Radiological Health, U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Even a title that long doesn’t touch on why the FDA is presenting at a simulation and analysis conference. Morrison is also the chair of the new FDA-wide working group on Modeling and Simulation.
“In silico clinical trials use computer models and simulations to develop and evaluate devices and drugs,” wrote FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., in a blog post this summer. “Modeling and simulation play a critical role in organizing diverse data sets and exploring alternate study designs. This enables safe and effective new therapeutics to advance more efficiently through the different stages of clinical trials. FDA’s efforts in modeling and simulation are enabled through multiple collaborations with external parties that provide additional expertise and infrastructure to advance the development of these state-of-the-art technologies.”
Morrison’s presentation at ASSESS is one example of that outreach and the agency’s willingness to collaborate with simulation software vendors and medical device manufacturers to streamline the acceptance of simulation results in the compliance process.
Bob Tickel, director of Structural & Dynamic Analysis within the Corporate R&T division of Cummins Inc., gave the day two keynote presentation. His group is primarily responsible for providing design guidance for key structural components and systems for future products as well as evaluating, developing and documenting new tools and methods. At ASSESS, Tickel gave an overview on the future of modeling and simulation at Cummins.
The real work at ASSESS took place in the breakout sessions. Groups of 10 attendees broke off into individual conference rooms to participate in a 2.5-hour moderator-led discussion of the following topics:
- Democratization of Engineering Simulation
- Engineering Simulation Confidence & Governance
- Integration of Systems and Detailed Sub-System Simulations
- Alignment of Commercial, Research and Government Efforts
- Business Challenges
- Generative Design
- Potential Game Changers
- Looking Forward
To keep the discussions frank and encourage participants to share their honest opinions, DE agreed not to report on the working group details or participants. Time flew by in the working sessions I attended, as moderators had the challenging task of directing the wide-ranging discussions toward a consensus. Most of the working group sessions will result in research papers on those topics, which will be available to attendees and soon to ASSESS Initiative members.
The ASSESS Initiative grew out of a loose collaboration between Brad Holtz’ Cyon Research and Joe and Bonnie Walsh’s intrinSIM. At this year’s congress, Walsh announced a membership program to expand the ASSESS initiative’s efforts beyond the annual congress. The organization says the ASSESS membership program is appropriate for all organizations engaged in analysis, simulation and systems engineering related to engineered products and processes. It is offered to individuals and there are three tiers of group memberships, all of which provide access to all ASSESS initiative “deliverable documents” at no charge, including research papers and survey research.
For more information, visit the ASSESS Inititiative.