- Article by Madeleine Swain
The 20th annual Congress on the Future of Engineering Software (COFES) is now underway. COFES runs from April 7 to 10 and for the first time is being held in Silicon Valley, at Menlo Park in California, US.
The think-tank event gathers vendors, users, press and analysts to discuss the most important issues facing both customers and providers of engineering technologies for product and building design. The three-day event is designed to foster thoughtful conversation.
“COFES is more relevant than ever,” says Pete Wells, COFES Institute board chairman. “Product and design complexity is increasing, at an accelerating rate. How the software industry supports designers of products and buildings is central to the mission of COFES. To support our mission, the COFES Institute is led by a board of directors and assisted by a board of advisers made up of seasoned professionals from the industry,” says Wells.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary, this year’s COFES theme is the convergence of technologies and the implications for software in design and engineering. Convergence is happening quickly. These technologies present tremendous opportunities for the products and buildings of tomorrow. However, design teams are struggling to keep up. Converging technologies such as additive manufacturing, artificial intelligence, augmented reality/virtual reality, generative design, IoT, machine learning and cloud computing, enable possibilities that were not even imagined before. This is creating a new reality for design teams.
The Dell keynote will be delivered by Curtis Schwebke, Vice President and Software CTO of Dell’s Client Innovation Group. The keynote will focus on new technology from Google (PWA) for developing industrial strength web applications suitable for the COFES audience of design, manufacturing and AEC. “We’re excited to join COFES 2019 and take part in the conversations that will shape the future of the engineering workflow, enabling our technical and scientific communities to change our world for the better,” says Chris Ramirez, Engineering, Manufacturing and AEC strategist, Client Solutions, Dell.
Rounding out the keynotes will be Elizabeth Baron, the principal inventor of the Ford Immersive Vehicle Environment (FiVE) process and technology and founder of Immersionary Enterprises. “Design is a team endeavour. Immersive collaborations allow teams, large or small, to actively participate and contribute. With the immersive approach, it is much easier to engage people with different technology experience, which aligns perfectly with the COFES 2019 theme of convergence,” says Baron.
In addition to the keynotes, COFES 2019 is packed with breakout sessions led by industry experts on topics associated around the theme of technology convergence.
This year, COFES is exploring new areas of focus that could extend beyond the current theme. One consideration is Women in Engineering. There will be a panel discussion led by women who have made an impact in the field. According to the National Science Foundation, overall, women have higher college graduation rates compared to men. However, men disproportionately outnumber women in the number of Science and Engineering (STEM) degrees received. The purpose of the panel is to begin the discussion on how COFES can contribute to bringing diversity into the field.
A new segment added this year is The Game Changers Challenge. This Shark Tank style rapid-fire session will feature eight start-ups in the engineering/manufacturing software space, which range from concept to shipping product. Participants will be judged by a panel of experts.