I attended the recent Robotics Summit & Expo in Boston, and one of the highlights was hearing Jon Hirschtick’s keynote. Hirschtick is General Manager, Onshape and Atlas, PTC — and is famous in engineering circles as being the fellow who created Solidworks. He was also a member of the famed MIT Blackjack Team, which was the basis for the 2008 feature film, 21.
Hirschtick feels that as CAD tools themselves get more powerful, a lot of things that used to be external simulations will be able to be done right in the software. Even today, he said they have customers using their built-in kinematics and animation, where it used to take separate packages.
“What we’d like to see is more and more tools,” he said. “More tools are going to cloud systems and you see things like Ansys [buying] a cloud native simulation company. When these tools come to cloud, you might say, ‘Well, what’s the difference?’ The difference is now they’re on tap for everyone you want to give them to. Now you can share them across your whole team. So, I would like to see a new world where more and more of the advanced stuff comes into the cloud in the core CAD tools.”
He also said that this means engineers will have the opportunity to use much more computing power than could be had in a single desktop computer today. Instead, he sees an engineer firing up their computer and the simulation will simply stream to them. Additionally, he believes that the digital twin concept will mean more IoT usage, so we can actually connect the physical to the digital twins.
Hirschtick related seeing a recent experiment where a university used the CAD model to drive the physical machine and vice versa.
“Is that something that could have been done 10 or 20 years ago?” he asked. “Maybe, but it would’ve been a lot harder. Today, with everything in the cloud, you don’t really worry about configuring so much of that. It’s a much more straightforward process. We’re going to see more of that in our connected world.”
Lastly, he praised the security aspects of the cloud. The biggest security risk, he contends, are the files and software in your laptop.
“How many of you have your company’s digital master files right now on a laptop? You’re carrying them around. Think about that,” Hirschtick said. “How is your laptop security against defenses? With the cloud, the beauty is we … eliminate the most vulnerable parts of the process, which is the data and software on the local computer. Because there isn’t any. If you take one of our customer’s laptops, sorry, evil person — there is no data to steal.”
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