In May, Siemens Corporation, the U.S. Subsidiary of the electronic and engineering conglomerate Siemens AG, delivered a $440 million in-kind grant to Youngstown State University.
The grant provided YSU with Siemens’ state-of-the-art product life cycle management software — a high-end software that allows users to trace the life span of any product, whether or not it is even on the drawing board or about to be shipped to market.
“One of the key things that we do in general is that we work with universities, community colleges — even down to the high school level — to provide our technology to learning institutions, so that they have the advantage to work with, what we consider to be, leading edge software to educate their students to be used in a manner to get them prepared for the careers with a lot of our top customers.” said Michael Senediak, Solutions Consultant at Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software Inc. “
The grant was procured by YSU due in part to Eric Spiegel, CEO and president of Siemens U.S.A, being from the city of Poland. It was also, as Michael Hripko, director of STEM College Research and Technology-based Economic Development points out, because YSU has once again entered the national playing field in science and technology.
Siemens’ PLM software has been used by technology giants such as NASA — for the Mars’ rover — and by Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, Space X, for space launch vehicles.
“Siemens’ PLM offers a life cycle management functionality. What that means is from the very beginning of the design — through its manufacturing, through sourcing, through assembly and eventually through recycling — the entire product life cycle is managed through one comprehensive suite of software,” said Hripko.
Pieces of a product used to be produced separately and assembled down the line, but this software allows manufacturers to introduce a level of synergy that would not be possible through a basic blueprint.
“You know if you think of an engineer years ago who would design the blueprints for a part, and a another engineer at another desk would design another blueprint for a part. And those are two very discrete designs, two very static designs. The evolution of designs has gone from discrete design to system designs. Those two parts fit together and should be designed together,” said Hripko
The STEM College is in the midst of deciding how to implement the PLM software into their program. Students do have access to PLM software currently, but they have little direction.
Hripko said that the STEM College’s present-day plan is to weave the PLM software into the curriculum. It would instruct students in the software and give them direction for their future designs.
The other facet of this software, outside of the university, is its ability to work in tandem with modern industrial techniques such as additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing.
The National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute is at the forefront of bringing additive manufacturing to the contemporary industry, and YSU has a close-knit relationship with the Youngstown based institute. This offers students not only exclusive access to high-end 3-D printing software, but it gives them the opportunity to use 3-D together with PLM software.
“I think the idea of what PLM and other types of products can do is they are looking at the total package of where I create to where I dispose and what I am doing in between. Do I really need to produce a thousand of these when I really only need a hundred?” said Scott Deutsch, manager of communications and special programs for NCDMM. “I think the ability of additive in general is its ability to create only what you need and customize it as you go. It is the idea of digital on-demand manufacturing.”
Michael Hripko, for his part, said he believes that PLM and additive are a perfect fit. Together they can help streamline the manufacturing process to a new degree.
“Additive manufacturing relies very closely on good design principles, “said Hripko. “You are able to simulate application conditions [with PLM]. So, you know that the lunar rover is going to work well because you have basically simulated those pressure and temperature conditions and the interrelationships of the parts.”
Luckily, these prodigious changes to YSU are not years off. The software has already been partially implemented into the engineering program. In June, Siemens Corp delivered the software. Throughout July, they began to prepare the YSU network.
Now, 200 licenses have been obtained and the software has been installed in the engineering design lab. However, the STEM program does not plan to limit the PLM software to just the engineering program.
“We think its primary use is going to be in any of the engineering disciplines, but we’re looking for opportunities to really expand and extend to our STEM discipline and then even beyond STEM to other academic disciplines,” said Hripko. “We might see synergy with Health and Human Services. We might see some synergies in the creative arts.”