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Why Attend COFES?

April 27, 2005

Filed under: event — Terry Wohlers @ 09:17

COFES2005 was held April 14-17 at the beautiful Scottsdale Plaza Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. (COFES stands for the Congress on the Future of Engineering Software.) Each year, the event concentrates mostly on design and product lifecycle management (PLM) problems and solutions, although it also covers related subjects. This year, it included discussions on topics such as multidisciplinary tools, supply chains, project portfolio management, Six Sigma, and customer buying decisions, as well as perspectives from Wall Street.

An analyst briefing was held on the future of 3D printing and rapid manufacturing—a subject that has not been covered in the past. At COFES, an analyst briefing is an informal session that takes place in a hotel suite. The host is asked to give 5-10 minutes of opening comments to launch a discussion centered on the subject. PowerPoint presentations are not allowed. With the aid of some interesting example parts that were passed around, it didn’t take long for the group to begin thinking and talking about where this fascinating technology is headed. The questions, answers, and observations were interesting and lively and it really could not have gone much better.

COFES is held at the busiest time of the year (for Wohlers Associates), so it’s difficult to break away for 2-3 days in April. However, it was absolutely worth it again this year and I recommend it highly. If you want to rub elbows with the Who’s Who of the CAD/CAM/CAE/PLM industry, COFES is the place to be. Many of the industry’s most prominent pioneers, luminaries, analysts, and consultants attend. Suits or ties are not allowed and shorts and sandals are encouraged. At this year’s event, the informal and relaxed setting once again promoted the kind of interactions that led to exploring a wealth of new ideas and business opportunities. It was a privilege to attend and I look forward to next year’s event.

Why Not Go Metric?

April 10, 2005

Filed under: life — Terry Wohlers @ 07:04

Robert Lipsett, engineering manager at Danaher Motion, makes a very compelling case as to why the U.S. should adopt the metric system. In his article title It’s Time go Go Metric in the April 4, 2005 issue of Design News, Lipsett points out that everyone around the world, except for the U.S., uses one language for measurement and that’s metric. The U.S. is the only industrialized nation to not standardize on it.

Lipsett goes on to say that every other country is demanding that more U.S. products are built and labeled to metric standards. Even long-time customers from the European Union no longer want nonmetric products. Likewise, they do not want to supply the U.S. with nonmetric products due to additional costs, Lipsett explained. Our on-going resistance to the metric system can only make it more difficult for the U.S. to compete outside its borders.

I encounter the problem all the time. When attending meetings and conferences with international attendance, I cringe when a U.S. speaker presents length and weight details but does not use the metric system. Can you imagine someone from outside the U.S. trying to understand feet, yards, and pounds? Publications, documentation, and engineering drawings are also a problem. If the U.S. continues to stubbornly refuse to adopt the metric system, we will continue to communicate poorly and leave the rest of the world wondering why we don’t get it.

Do we not have the intellectual capacity to grasp that 10 millimeters = 1 centimeter or 1,000 grams = 1 kilogram? I would like to believe that we do. So what will it take to make the conversion to the metric system? I wish I had the answer. Currently, it doesn’t seem as though we are making an attempt and this is very unfortunate.