Editor' Note: Engineering and Computing Science students and practitioners, this blog post is for you! Add this book to your shelf and start playing with Graphing and Simulation Tools right away.
Novedge: Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.
My name is Petru Aurelian Simionescu and I am an assistant professor at Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi in the mechanical Engineering program. I received my BS degree in Mechanical Engineering with an Automotive Engineering concentration from Politechnica University of Bucharest, a Doctorate Degree in Technical Sciences from the same university, and a PhD degree in Mechanical Engineering from Auburn University in 2004. Prior to coming to Texas A&M, I taught and conducted research at Politechnica University of Bucharest, Transilvania University of Brasov, Heriot Watt University, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Auburn University, University of Tulsa and University of Alabama at Birmingham. Early in my career I worked for four years in the automotive industry.
Novedge: You recently published a book titled Computer-Aided Graphing and Simulation Tools for AutoCAD Users. Would you care to give us a little summary?
The book is the sum of the research I have done in the past 20 years on information visualization, optimization, evolutionary computation, and on linkage, cam and gear mechanism design. In addition to AutoCAD and AutoLisp, there is also examples in the book of simulations done with Working Model 2D. There are also a number of Pascal programs and subroutines that come with the book - both as source code and executables. These include programs D_2D and D_3D which have several unique features, not available in popular graphing software like MATLAB, Excel or MathCAD. Here are some sample output by these two programs :
showing automatically the zeros and extrema of 2D plots with the possibility of exporting them to file;logarithmically spacing level curves in contour plots;
truncating 3D surface plots;
and representing the gradient using available data (i.e. no need to provide the gradient information separately.
With the book, the user will receive several AutoLisp application for animating DXF layers and for automatically generating 3D models with data read from file, and for generating involute gear profiles. You can see some sample animations here and here.
Novedge: Who would benefit by reading the book. Who is your target audience?
The book is intended for engineering and computing science students and practitioners. Although mentioned in the title, there is no absolute need of AutoCAD software to make good use of the book (at most of a DXF viewer which can be downloaded free from the Internet), and the knowledge of AutoCAD does not have to be extensive.
Novedge: What is the best advance in Engineering Software these days?
In the last 15 years there have been major changes in the Engineering Software industry, with mergers and acquisitions that brought together highly talented developers. This resulted in excellent CAD, CAE and integrated product development platforms. Winners will be those software companies that provide intuitive, carefully designed use interfaces to their product, and good documentation to their software. They should also have strong presence in academia, because students are the vectors to industry of these software products. 3D Model by Student Adam Ersepke.
Novedge: What software do you use, at school and at home?
Recently I use MATLAB and Simulink to model the power flow in the planetary transmission of a wind turbine. We are trying to experimentally verify the results obtained. I am also using SimWise 4D and Working Model 2D. I also use AutoCAD and Inventor, but less of the latter because I was able to find talented student to do the CAD work (see 3D models by students).3D Model by Student Andrei Draghici.
Novedge: What kind of research are you involved in?
With help from my students, currently I do research on the design of reconfigurable machinery, renewable energy and robotics.I also remain interested in automotive technology i.e. steering and suspension system design and condition monitoring.
Novedge: What advice would you give to people looking into going to college to study mechanical engineering?
A Mechanical Engineering can land a graduate to job in many industries: automotive, aerospace, electronics (think of all heat transfer and forced cooling that go in a computer), ship building, oil and gas etc. To be successful in these professions, in addition to good math and science training, there is a need for technical and managerial knowledge. Since a professional in the US will change more than half-a-dozen jobs in a life time, it is advisable for the engineering student to develop a broad range of interest, including in the classical mechanical engineering disciplines such as machine design and manufacturing processes. Knowledge of at least one CAD package is a must for any mechanical engineering graduate. With out one is like majoring in computer science without knowing a programing language.
Novedge: What does it take to be a good teacher?
To know the material that you are teaching and be able to relate it to your students with reference to what they should know from other classes and everyday life. To be considerate of their teaching load (is not only your class that matters), and also approachable. I like to tell my students that they are my retirement plan i.e. hey alone will keep the country going in two or three decades from now. So if they are well prepared and practice their professions ethically and competently, we will all do well.
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