WMU News

Software company establishes design center at WMU

July 2, 1998

KALAMAZOO -- The Australian-based Moldflow Corp. has donated $2.9 million worth of computer hardware and software to Western Michigan University's College of Engineering and Applied Sciences to establish the Moldflow Center for Design Excellence in Kohrman Hall.

Moldflow, which has its U.S. headquarters in Lexington, Mass., will use the center as its North American training site, where it will conduct training, industrial seminars and customer visits. When Moldflow is not using the facility, WMU students and faculty will have access to the center for class projects, consulting and research.

Moldflow is a world leader in plastic simulation software used to design and produce plastic parts for the auto, aviation and electronics industry, among others. The software is predictive, making it possible for designers to sit down and do a "what if" scenario of a manufacturing run on a product and then change the design to correct errors before the actual tooling is made.

"We've had a long relationship with Moldflow in terms of developing training materials and consulting in the area of software interfacing, but this is the first time we've really formalized it and established a unique center," says Dr. Michael B. Atkins, chairperson of the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering. "This is clearly a marriage between the company and our capabilities."

Atkins expects WMU students and faculty to have access to the center at least 50 percent of the time. In addition to utilizing software packages available on the system for graduate and senior design projects, the students also will be able to observe the training sessions the company offers on a space available basis. The center, in conjunction with WMU's computer integrated manufacturing facilities, is intended to serve as a hotbed of research and consulting by faculty and students on design and manufacturing process issues for the industry.

Prior to locating the center at WMU, Moldflow considered other universities as well as establishing a stand-alone facility at another location.

"We chose to establish our training center at Western because of the 13-year relationship we've had with the University," says Jay Shoemaker, education manager of Moldflow in the United States and a WMU graduate. "The quality of the research has been outstanding, the computer facilities have been useful, and WMU has been cooperative and pleased to have our customers come on campus and use the facilities."

WMU originally became affiliated with Moldflow through students who worked for the company, which maintains a Kalamazoo office.

The center will be equipped with five computer workstations and 25 copies of Moldflow analysis software. In addition to providing all of the start-up equipment and expenses, the company also will provide for annual maintenance costs, which are nearly $1 million.

Atkins says plastics are becoming a primary industry in West Michigan, and the new center will dovetail with the plastics research going on at the University while offering a multitude of benefits to faculty and students.

"This keeps us in close liaison with the industry, gives us access to state-of-the-art technology that can be infused within our classes and opens many doors in terms of research and job opportunities for our graduates because we are well known in this particular area of education," Atkins explains.

Media contact: Julie Paavola, 616 387-8400, julie.paavola@wmichedu

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