After participating in 2005 to the LHC particle accelerator design at CERN, the goal for my career was to further improve my education in advanced fields of engineering. The decision was driven by the fact that the requirements for LHC project did not allow errors or billions would have been wasted for a wrong design. As a young engineer I was impressed how nowadays you have the tools to simulate reality in its minimal details and deliver accurate results before any prototype has been built. Given my natural curiosity and the desire to understand “what is under the hood”, I decided I wanted to be able to develop such tools, rather than simply being a user of them. Moreover the desire of studying this field represented the perfect fit for my background in classical engineering and the personal passion for programming.
For these reasons in 2006 I moved to Chicago to study for a PhD in multibody dynamics with a project founded by Caterpillar. After earning my PhD I continued my research activity working for CAT in the Chicago area. In December 2011 I was offered a position in Ann Arbor by MSC.Software, the worldwide leader in virtual prototyping and owner of products like NASTRAN and ADAMS. MSC collaborated with NASA since the 60s to develop NASTRAN for aerospace programs, while ADAMS was born at the University of Michigan in the 1974 and through the years become the reference in multibody dynamic simulation software. Just to mention one of the last achievements, ADAMS played a key role in designing the rover Curiosity that NASA landed on Mars on August 5th 2012, especially for the ability to simulate conditions of operation unattainable on the Earth.
With the above premises it was obvious for me to accept the position and move to Ann Arbor, since it represented the possibility to work and learn from the people who made the history in my field of studying. The initial project from the 70s is still the core of today software – showing how much a good initial design can be durable – and some people who currently work at MSC in Ann Arbor have almost 30 years of experience in dynamic simulation. Every day I go to work I am amazed how much I can learn from the experience of my colleagues, wishing one day to have their same strength in this field.
It has to be underlined that the driven factor for virtual prototyping is not just the advantage of cutting costs and a faster deliverable design, but mostly the possibility to simulate conditions which are not easy to reproduce in real life and to perform optimization algorithms on virtual models unattainable with standard techniques. For these reasons the areas of application include typical engineering fields like aerospace, automotive, rail-road systems, while new developments in the medical field are the frontier of simulation. For instance using fluid-dynamics equations to model the blood inside human body is just fascinating and opens the possibility of studying new treatments for illnesses. I believe this is a valuable field where engineers and doctors can work together for making a positive impact on our society, as well as predicting the life of an aircraft, car or high-speed train via dynamic simulation makes everyday life safer.