Interview with Teresa Anania – Part 2

<< Part 1

Deelip: There is criticism that Autodesk, along with other CAD vendors, is trying to make engineers out of CAD operators by giving them dumbed down analysis tools inside of MCAD systems. The argument is how can you expect a CAD user to do an FEA analysis if he does not even know the units of stress or hasn’t heard the term “Von-Mises” before in his life?  In fact, I interviewed Blake Courter, one of the co-founders of SpaceClaim, yesterday and he had some pretty strong views on this subject. He even went to the extent of calling it disgusting and sickening. You have come from ALGOR and you know what kind of people that you were selling your products to. And here you are trying to peddle a dumbed down version of that extremely powerful technology to CAD users. I happen to have my own views on that critism. But I am curious to know your thoughts on this.

Teresa: This is a good topic. There is no doubt that others before Autodesk have tried to do some things that have kind of set a paradigm. So no matter what our intentions are as compared to someone else, they may look the same, but they are really not. I think our strategy is spot on. First of all, our customers are asking for software on the designers desktop that really do not validate the product’s safety or does not become the go or no-go on the design. But rather to allow them to optimize, allow them to innovate, allow them to do things that otherwise honestly don’t get thought of untill its too late. Now that being said, every company is different. If they have a team of analyst engineers that is absolutely focused on optimization during the design process, then that team needs tools to complete the task. The good thing is that they do not even need to know CAD. Fusion allows them to edit geometry without going back to the CAD department. So we are providing tools for that kind of a organizational structure. But many of our customers might not have four year mechanical engineering degrees. But they want them to be able to do first pass analysis and then leave the go or no-go validation decisions to the analyst engineers. So we want to provide for tools for both, and do it responsibly. Unlike some of our competitors, we are not dumbing things down. We are not smoothing. We are not approximating. We are not estimating. I mean, our software does not produce results that look accurate but are not. We are providing a simpler interface, no doubt. We are limiting our options. You don’t want to put multi-physics into Inventor Professional. You wouldn’t even put CFD. But you would put some basic linear static stress, some rigid body analysis and some design optimization. And so we are doing it responsibly by only looking to our customers to determine what is needed by the designer so that the entire organization can benefit from upfront analysis. Like in the case of Moldflow, we are not putting MoldFlow Insight technology in the CAD operators hands.

Deelip: That’s another thing I wanted to ask you. Is the high end complicated stuff going to find its way into Inventor over time? Or is it going to stay out of Inventor as it is now?

Teresa: Absolutely. We are not following the path of some of our earlier competitors that frankly took very powerful code, dumbed it down and put it in all the CAD tools. We believe that our customer’s are different and we recognize that there are many engineers need absolute power. I mean, they do not want to have to live with, say for instance, not being able to see their mesh, or not being able to choose between different element types and probably have to trade accuracy for speed. So I think we are trying to provide a scalable solution, make it affordable, make it easily accessible. I call it “on ramp”. I mean you cannot do a ton because probably the designer should not be doing too much. And then when they want more we have a solution for them that interoperates with the original CAD model. Look what designers are doing today versus what they were doing ten years ago. There are many that are able to do linear static stress today who would not have touched it ten years ago.

Part 3 >>