COFES 2009 – Day 2

Introductions and Breakfast

Day 2 started out with breakfast at 7:30 am. Later representatives of the Technology Suite sponsors (Autodesk, Microsoft, Nemetschek, PTC, ShareVis, Siemens PLM and VX) introduced themselves and let us know what they were going to present in their technology suites sessions later in the day.



Keynote: Innovative Engineering for a Disruptive Time

Chuck House of Media X delivered a keynote speech on Innovative Engineering for a Disruptive Time. He is the executive director of Media X, Stanford University’s Industry Affiliate research program on media and technology. The speech was very informative and humorous, in fact, bordering hilarious. Consider this quote: “Carver Mead invented Moore’s law and told Moore about it who told the world.” His first slide asked us to “check conventional wisdom at the door“.


Chuck House

He dwelt on the reasons why innovation lags in most companies giving examples from the waves of innovation in Silicon Valley. In his opinion, innovative engineering in a desruptive time needs mavericks, people who don’t break the rules, but rather, who change them.

Technology Suite Briefings – Round 1

A technology suite briefing is held in a hotel room where people from the sponsor company meet one on one with a handful of attendees. The ides is not to sell a product. After all nobody comes to COFES to buy a CAD system. Rather the briefing is to discuss issues related to the company and its products.

The technology suite briefings for the first round were:

Autodesk – Hilde Sevens, Senior Product Line Manager, Manufacturing Solutions
Topic: Extending Digital Prototyping

Autodesk – Brenda Discher, Vice-President, Manufacturing Solutions
Topic: Digital Prototyping and BIM

Microsoft – Diego Tamburini, Senior Evangelism Manager
Topic: New Technologies for Software Developers

Nemetschek North America- Sean Flaherty, CEO
Topic: Nemetschek’s Vision for BIM and Design

PTC – Brian Shepherd, Senior Vice-President, Product Management
Topic: Social Product Development

ShareVis – Nail Sudin, CEO
Topic: PLM with Model-Based Workflows

Siemens PLM Software – Bill Carrelli, Vice-President Business Development
Topic: Differences between PLM for medium-to-large enterprises and PLM for small-to-medium businesses.

SpaceClaim – Chris Randles, President & CEO
Topic: Direct Modeling

VX Corporation – Mark Vorwaller, President
Topic: Capturing and Sharing Knowledge

I attended the SpaceClaim briefing where CEO Chris Randles and co-founder Blake Courter explained SpaceClaim’s product strategy and a need for its technology in a multi-CAD environment.


Chris Randles

DaS Symposium

While the Technology Suite Briefings were going on there was something called as the Design and Sustainability (DaS) Symposium. The founding members of the DaS Symposium include Autodesk, Building Smart Alliance, CIFE, Cyon Research, Gensler, Siemens, SolidWorks, Sustainable Minds, et al. The purpose of this symposium was to focus on how design software can facilitate the visibility of sustainability issues at the design stage.

Analyst Briefings – Round 1

An analyst briefing is quite similar to a technology suite briefing, just that the person discussing the topic is an industry renowned analyst who first gives a brief overview of one or more pressing issues surrounding his industry and then answers questions posed by attendees. These replies more then often spark off a debate with different points of view being expressed. This increased level of interaction is what makes it far more interesting.

The first round of analyst briefings for the day were:

Chuck House, Media X
Topic: Issues raised in his Keynote Speech

Deke Smith, Cyon Research
Topic: BIM Changes Everything

Don Brown, CPDA
Topic: Scorecard on Mechatronics

Joe Barkai, Manufacturing Insights
Topic: Will PLM Shake Off Its CAD Roots?

Jim Brown, Tech-Clarity
Topic: Design, Engineering, and Social Networking

Jon Peddie, Jon Peddie Research
Topic: Why Virtual Worlds Fail

Tom Pennino, TP Technologies
Topic: Interdependency of EDA and MCAD

I went in to attend Jim Brown’s briefing on “Design, Engineering and Social Networking”, but was pulled away for a private meeting. Before I left I caught Randall Newton hiding behind the door twittering away to glory.

Randall Newton

Analyst Briefings – Round 2

The second round of analyst briefings for the day were:

Phares Noel, Cyon Research
Topic: Factory-Floor Time-Bomb

David Prawel, LongView Advisors
Topic: Extending the Reach of Product Data

Ken Versprille, CPDA
Topic: Trends in Design Data Quality

Jay Vleeschhouwer, Financial Analyst
Topic: Wall Street Perspective on the CAD/PLM industry

Bruce Jenkins, Ora Research
Topic: Strengthening Simulation’s Impact

Dave Jordani, Jordani Consulting Group
Topic: BIM – Innovation Under Construction

I attended Jay Vleeschhouver briefing on “Wall Street Perspective on the CAD/PLM Industry”. First Jay painted a horrifying picture of the mess that CAD vendors are finding themselves in, complete with numbers and their implications for the future. He noted that the more pressing current situation is that new license revenues are declining rapidly, and that there would be – or already are in some cases – resultant adverse effect on maintenance. He also noted that there were high chances that product development spending could be severely curtailed. He threw some light on the cost cutting measures of adopted by the CAD vendors and stated that customers were showing clear signs of deferring new purchases. Jay was of the opinion that a steep decline did not mean that there would be a steep ascent. In fact, he believes that the upturn, when it comes, will be slower than expected. He felt that Autodesk and SolidWorks may recover faster because their customers have shorter software procurement cycles.

Jay Vleeschhouver

When he eventually got down to talking about the Wall Street perspective on the CAD/PLM industry, he said that investors very rarely look at the software and technologies of the CAD vendors before investing their stock. At present, they are simply interested in cost management. He mentioned that a couple of private equity firms had in the recent past asked him to debrief them about the CAD/PLM industry. He feels that such kind of interest reveals that investors see some potential in the CAD/PLM industry.

Technology Suite Briefings – Round 2

After lunch, there were a repeat of the morning briefings which gave attendees the opportunity to attend a second briefing. I attended the briefing by Siemens PLM. Bill McClure, Vice President of the Velocity Portfolio, discussed Synchronous Technology and what had changed since it was introduced a year ago.

Bill Carelli and Bill McClure

Bill McClure let us know that they were getting ready to ship the next version of Synchronous Technology next month. Incidentally, Inventor Fusion also comes out next month. A major enhancement was the addition of a sheet metal system.

Technology Suite Briefings – Round 3

The third and final round of analyst briefings for the day were:

Steve Wolfe, Cyon Research
Topic: Affordable PLM

Chad Jackson, Aberdeen
Topic: The Innovation Transition

Marc Halpern, Gartner
Topic: Designing Green: Practical or Pipe Dream?

Monica Schnitger, Schnitger Corporation
Topic: Shifting Channel Models

Terry Wohlers, Wohlers Associates
Topic: Additive Fabrication for Mass Customization

Martin Fischer, CIFE
Topic: The Promise of VDC

I attended Terry Wohlers’ briefing on “Additive Fabrication for Mass Customization”. I have been conversing with Terry over email for a few years now. It was nice to meet him face to face for the first time.


Terry Wohlers

Terry spent some time explaining new methods of additive fabrication (or more commonly known as rapid prototyping) and new materials. He passed around physical models among the attendees, some of which could never have been created using normal machining. He answered question from his small audience and they had a lot of them.

Maieutic Parataxis

This is something that was started last year and became a hit. So they decided to do it again. Maieutic means “the midwifery of knowledge” and Parataxis means “the juxtaposition of ideas, without connection or conjunction”. Putting them together, according the COFES organizers, you get “a series of five-minute vignettes drawn from topics and ideas that, while perhaps not yet fully formed, are likely to impact your thinking about how we design, build, and interact with software in the future”.

A couple of these five minute presentations were fascinating, not always in the right sense. Among the presenters were Bill Barnes from Lattice Technology showing off his XVL file format and player. He showed how a 1.3 GB assembly could be reduced to 6.5 MB without any geometric difference at all. Gary Vanderplats, CEO of Vanderplaats Research & Development Inc. gave a presentation on “Optimization”. Jack Ring of Kennen Technologies LLC gave a presentation of “Transforms and Transformers”, of which I understood absolutely nothing. Here is one slide.




I am pretty sure his presentation made sense to a lot of people in the audience. Just that my level of IQ didn’t fit the requirement. Stephen Prusha of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab gave a presentation on “Next Generation Conceptual Design at JPL“. Simon Floyd of Microsoft gave a mind blowing presentation on “Work Styles & Interactivity in 2020” which included this video. Torben Sko, a PhD student came all the way from Australia and showed how by using a normal web cam and face tracking software he could navigate a first person shooter game in a real life manner. Truly amazing. Link.

Evening Under the Stars at La Puesta del Sol

To wrap up the day, all attendees were herded into busses and taken to La Puesta del Sol, a great western cookout in the middle of the desert. Last year I froze. This time I made sure I took my jacket with me. Far away from the city lights, you get a much clearer view of the stars in the Arizona sky. They even have a huge telescope.