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Making a Proposal for Digital Prototyping in 7 Steps

At the moment using digital prototypes can complement and, in some circumstances, even change using bodily prototypes. Digital prototypes assist cut back the dangers, prices, and time for growing progressive new merchandise. Design engineers can assemble and retailer 1000’s and even tens of millions of 3-D digital prototypes of a possible product in a design possibility tradespace. The efficiency and conduct of every digital prototype could be assessed rapidly utilizing simplified physics-based software program. Extra refined high-fidelity computational evaluation instruments can then be used to precisely predict the efficiency of essentially the most promising candidates—all this earlier than a bodily prototype exists. Lastly, if wanted, a bodily prototype of the ultimate design could be constructed and examined for ultimate validation of the design earlier than manufacture. Digital prototypes assist cut back the price of scientific analysis and handle analysis issues that can’t be addressed by way of experiments.

The primary enablers for digital prototyping are software program purposes and high-performance computer systems. Excessive efficiency computer systems are a commodity, however the wanted software program just isn’t. In lots of circumstances the required software program should be developed to satisfy the wants of digital prototyping. Growing efficient software program engineering practices for digital prototyping and different sorts of software program are essential analysis subjects for the SEI.

Regardless of its promise, digital prototyping presents a severe problem: engineers and scientists usually have no idea find out how to create a compelling proposal for a digital prototyping program—particularly the important thing software program element—and get it in entrance of the fitting set of eyes to acquire funding and assist.

This weblog publish, which is excerpted and tailored from Creating and Utilizing Digital Prototyping Software program, a e-book that I coauthored with Dr. Richard Kendall, outlines seven steps to create a compelling proposal for potential sponsors to assist a program to develop, deploy, and maintain suites of digital prototyping instruments. The suggestions within the e-book are based mostly on our expertise during the last 17 years establishing and sustaining the Division of Protection (DoD) digital prototyping program CREATE (Computational Analysis and Engineering Acquisition Instruments and Environments). Launched in 2006, the CREATE program allows DoD engineers and scientists to assemble digital prototypes of main weapons programs, equivalent to ships, air and floor automobiles, and radio frequency antennas.

Through the formative stage of CREATE, its founders (together with this e-book’s authors) didn’t have a information for growing and advertising proposals for virtual-prototype software improvement. To treatment this hole, now we have reviewed our experiences from CREATE and different advanced, science-based software program improvement applications, each profitable and unsuccessful, to establish the elements that led to their success or failure and to derive a set of classes discovered. Some examples of our sources embrace Software program Engineering for Science by Carver et al and the journal article “Software program Venture Administration and High quality Engineering Practices for Complicated, Coupled MultiPhysics, Massively Parallel Computational Simulations,” which I coauthored with Dr. Richard Kendall.

We ship these insights as a set of seven steps provided as a information for comparable undertakings. Though these steps may be thought-about apparent to anybody in Silicon Valley, now we have discovered that almost all engineers and scientists haven’t been uncovered to them. Few have expertise with growing proposals for the development of sturdy software program that they will use to make the shift to digital prototyping potential.

The seven steps we suggest for producing such proposals adhere to the rules described within the well-known Heilmeier Catechism, outlined in Determine 1 beneath. The Heilmeier Catechism was developed for assessing proposals to DARPA, and it has lengthy served as a information for producing proposals for profitable technical applications.

Determine 1: George H. Heilmeier, a former DARPA director (1975-1977), crafted a set of questions referred to as the “Heilmeier Catechism” to assist company officers assume by means of and consider proposed analysis applications. Supply:


Determine 1: George H. Heilmeier, a former DARPA director (1975-1977), crafted a set of questions referred to as the “Heilmeier Catechism” to assist company officers assume by means of and consider proposed analysis applications.

Supply: Protection Advance Analysis Tasks Company

Earlier than beginning, it’s essential to evaluate whether or not switching to digital product design and testing can plausibly make a considerable enchancment in a company’s product improvement course of. It could possibly be, for instance, that present pc modeling approaches are too immature to assist the change, or that the computing energy wanted just isn’t available. Furthermore, there could also be insurmountable cultural obstacles to adoption of the paradigm.

Likewise, switching to using digital prototyping for scientific analysis needs to be carried out provided that compelling benefits could be gained over conventional scientific analysis strategies. As an example, supernova analysis performed by way of experiments with high-energy-density laser amenities, such because the Nationwide Ignition Facility (NIF) on the Lawrence Livermore Nationwide Laboratory, are possible, however very costly. Laptop simulations of supernova conduct that can be utilized to establish the important thing traits and physics components by evaluating the calculations with observational knowledge are each possible and comparatively inexpensive (Lamb 2011).

If transferring ahead is believable, then listed here are the steps.

Step 1: Develop a imaginative and prescient and establish a sponsor.

We’ve got studied and adopted dozens of digital prototyping applications by means of both private participation or commentary and evaluation. The applications usually begin with a small staff that develops an idea, or “imaginative and prescient,” for a way digital prototyping may enhance (i.e., make extra aggressive) a company’s product improvement or scientific analysis. In virtually all of the profitable circumstances we all know, the main focus was on a particular use of digital prototyping, equivalent to climate forecasting or plane design and efficiency evaluation. The staff was capable of flip its imaginative and prescient right into a proposal {that a} sponsor then accredited and funded.

The institution of an actual program is all the time preceded by the conversion of the imaginative and prescient right into a written proposal. Preparation of the proposal usually acquired assist (often at a really modest stage) from advocates inside the group who have been interested by exploring the idea. Generally a bunch of passionate volunteers have been the sparkplugs who acquired issues transferring and satisfied the group’s management that digital prototyping was value exploring.

With a imaginative and prescient in hand, the main focus ought to flip to figuring out potential sponsors. More often than not, the sponsor is the group’s administration staff or some a part of it. A little bit of evangelizing could also be required to get a dedication from a possible sponsor to fund the event of a proposal. Nevertheless, the assets wanted to develop a proposal are small in comparison with the potential profit. Our expertise with CREATE signifies {that a} good begin on a reputable proposal may even be developed by volunteers, working totally on their very own time.

Step 2: Do your homework.

The solutions to the next questions needs to be investigated in preparation for the proposal:

  • For product design, is the group dropping market share to an progressive competitor? How can digital prototyping assist repair this?
  • Equally, can using digital prototyping enhance the standard of scientific analysis by supplementing or changing massive, costly analysis amenities?
  • What are the best precedence wants for product design software program:
    • preliminary design?
    • efficiency prediction?
    • manufacturability?
  • What are the best obstacles that may forestall potential sponsors from adopting the digital prototyping paradigm:
    • a scarcity of appreciation by center administration of the results of the group’s declining competitiveness and the necessity to handle it?
    • concern about the necessity to prepare the work pressure in digital prototyping and the potential resistance to vary?
  • What do potential sponsors have to do to combine digital prototyping into their product improvement or analysis workflows to beat the obstacles?


  • What assets and modifications to the organizational tradition are required?

After finishing steps 1 and a pair of, the proposal staff needs to be educated concerning the candidate sponsor’s tradition, personnel construction, product design functionality and strategies, high quality management processes, and different attributes essential to transferring ahead. This data shall be essential in the course of the improvement of a plan that features estimates for the wanted assets (funds, time, coaching, computer systems, IT assist, and so on.). Pilot tasks could also be useful, in addition to the experiences of comparable non-competing tasks, if they are often shared.

Step 3: Establish and start to recruit potential stakeholders.

It’s important that the proposal staff domesticate assist inside every potential sponsor’s management staff and workers. Different stakeholders will seemingly profit from digital prototyping, and an effort to enlist their advocacy could be helpful. Adopting digital prototyping entails a significant paradigm shift for everybody. That stage of cultural change usually (often) encounters robust resistance, as Machiavelli famous in The Prince.

Our expertise signifies that adoption faces much less resistance in two circumstances. The primary is with sponsors which have a historical past of innovation. The second is when a company has encountered an existential menace and it’s clear that digital prototyping presents a reputable technique to mitigate that menace. It’s arduous to overstate resistance to vary; evidently those that most want to vary are sometimes those most proof against it.

Along with funded efforts, senior folks within the discipline are sometimes prepared to spend time to debate points and provide recommendation to applications that they see filling an essential group want, as we noticed with CREATE. The proposal will seemingly not get far with out allies and supporters, each within the group and in associated communities. To enlist them, the proposal staff must do the next:

  1. Discover and establish stakeholders whose success shall be enormously aided by the enhancements that digital product design and testing can provide.
  2. Have interaction their curiosity and enlist their endorsement and assist.

Nevertheless, a little bit of warning is required. The most important goal of digital prototyping is to ascertain a aggressive benefit. The aggressive benefit could be misplaced if a competitor has detailed data of your program. It’s thus essential to just remember to solely share info with folks you belief and who shouldn’t have a battle of curiosity.

In follow, all these steps needs to be taken roughly concurrently. They’ll seemingly require a number of iterations and shut collaboration among the many proposal staff leaders and potential stakeholder teams. Crucial stakeholders are the potential sponsors, however all potential stakeholders are helpful; they supply gravitas.

Step 4: Consider the software program choices.

The proposal shall be stronger if it identifies at the very least a number of particular exterior examples of digital prototyping software program purposes that members of the potential sponsor’s group can acknowledge and perceive. The proposal shall be even stronger if the proposal staff can discover illustrative examples of software program purposes that reveal the effectiveness of digital prototyping for the sponsor’s product improvement or scientific analysis subjects. As an example, if fluid move is essential, an instance of using a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) code could also be applicable. CFD is ubiquitous within the evaluation of air automobile efficiency, lowering vehicle wind resistance, and designing quick crusing ships (such because the America’s Cup ships). These makes use of are wealthy sources of examples.

Efficiently establishing a digital prototyping functionality requires acquiring the fitting software program purposes, both by means of inner improvement or by exterior acquisition. The software program purposes will need to have the capabilities and options wanted to attain a aggressive benefit.

After finishing step 4, the proposal staff ought to perceive the technical challenges concerned in growing a product or conducting scientific analysis. An exception will be the challenges particular to growing physics-based, high-performance computing software program, which can be a brand new specialised space for a lot of software program improvement teams. Having the ability to overcome the challenges of growing physics-based high-performance based mostly software program is essential to the success of the proposal. If the staff doesn’t have already got that experience, it might want to purchase it to supply a reputable proposal and a profitable program.

Step 5: Assemble the proposal.

The target in step 5 is to show the imaginative and prescient of step one into a proper proposal for the software program improvement program that has an excellent likelihood of being accredited and funded. The proposal ought to have two elements. The primary half ought to

  • present a compelling description of the product improvement or analysis issues that digital prototyping will resolve
  • clarify why fixing these issues is essential to the possible sponsor, and
  • describe the potential impression of fixing these issues

Steps 2, 3, and 4 are mandatory precursors right here.

The primary a part of the proposal is an important half. It should set up the worth of digital prototyping to the success of the sponsors. If the sponsors will not be satisfied that what’s being proposed will make them extra aggressive, the second a part of the proposal (plans and assets) shall be irrelevant.

Proposal define.

Along with the three subjects above, first half ought to embrace the next:

  • an outline of the stakeholder communities (together with the sponsor)
  • a compelling and credible imaginative and prescient for a way the proposed software program purposes to allow digital prototyping shall be used
  • a plan to cope with the adoption problem—persuading the product designers or analysis scientists to maneuver from a bodily prototype or experiment-based workflow to a digital prototyping workflow
  • an outline of the required software program purposes that shall be wanted, whether or not by means of inner improvement, from exterior sources, or each
  • a reputable strategy and plan for a way the software program purposes could be both developed or acquired from exterior sources after which deployed
  • if the software program is to be developed internally, a reputable strategy for recruiting and organizing the software program improvement staff that may efficiently develop and deploy the required software program
  • an outline of the organizational construction of the proposed program, together with the next:
    • names, skilled credentials, abilities, and expertise of potential program and improvement code staff leaders and staff members, if potential
    • background, abilities, and expertise of potential members of the consumer group
  • the reason why the proposed program will succeed and why the proposal is credible (Software program improvement is a dangerous enterprise.)

The second a part of the proposal ought to embrace these parts:

  • an outline of the assets required for this system (funding, skilled employees, pc and pc infrastructure assets, enterprise assets, validation knowledge, and extra)
  • a high-level conceptual improvement and deployment plan (together with a notional schedule) for the staged supply of the software program’s options
  • a short-term plan for beginning up this system in the course of the first 3 to six months if the proposal is accredited

Step 6: Market the proposal to the potential sponsors and stakeholders.

For advertising to a company or authorities engineering group, the sponsors are the company administration, together with the engineering and monetary managers, the company advertising group, and the engineering consumer teams. For advertising to a scientific analysis group, the sponsors are the management of the establishments that execute analysis tasks and the organizations that fund or approve the establishment’s analysis program.

Advertising the primary a part of the proposal ought to handle these areas:

  • the necessity for change
  • the imaginative and prescient for the position of digital prototyping within the path ahead
  • a plan to interact the stakeholder group
  • a reputable software program deployment technique (together with software program improvement or procurement)
  • Affirmation that this system management can assemble a reputable software program improvement staff and lead it to success

If the potential sponsors will not be attracted by these subjects, they won’t have an interest within the particulars of the execution plan. It’s essential that the proposed funds, schedules, and deliverables be lifelike and that the proposal staff can defend the numbers. Potential sponsors will use the realism of the funds, schedule, and program targets as an essential measure of the proposal’s credibility.

The proposal is primarily a bid to develop (or procure) and deploy software program to assist the digital prototyping functionality that the sponsor wants. Right here “deploy” signifies that the software program turns into a part of the product improvement workflow. It’s also essential to not underbid the fee and the time. If the sponsor agrees to fund the challenge, the event groups shall be accountable to ship an inexpensive approximation of the deliberate software program on time and inside funds.

It’s important for the sponsor to know that the software program’s capabilities will in all probability be delivered incrementally and that it should be supported for so long as the consumer group relies on it. The engineering and analysis necessities will evolve and alter, and the software program might want to change to satisfy the brand new necessities. As well as, computing applied sciences (together with pc architectures and pc safety safeguards) are regularly altering, and the software program should adapt to those modifications. It’s a fallacy to assume that the software program will ever be “completed.” As quickly because the assist for the software program purposes ceases, it’s going to die.

For brand spanking new groups growing software program, the funding ought to begin at about 20 p.c to 40 p.c of the deliberate asymptotic funding stage and ramp as much as it over a interval of three to five years. If the staff shall be staffed by workers of the sponsor, build up extra quickly may be potential. If present software program is being configured (versus developed) to assist the digital prototyping paradigm, much less time shall be wanted.

Step 7: Reply to proposal determination.

If the proposal is accredited, transfer ahead with planning and executing the proposed program (Chapter 7 in our e-book consists of subsequent steps). If the proposal just isn’t accredited, discover out why it was poor and see in the event you can treatment the deficiencies. If not, do a autopsy retrospective to extract the teachings discovered and take into account whether or not to strive once more with one other candidate sponsor.

Alternatives and Challenges for Digital Prototyping

Wanting forward, there are alternatives (and challenges) for digital prototyping, together with

  • sustainment
  • manufacturability
  • design automation
  • autonomous programs
  • operational simulators for coaching, certification, testing, and exploring operational choices
  • digital scientific experiments
  • uncertainty quantification


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