WMU News

Corporate/WMU partnership brings cutting edge tools to students

October 27, 1998

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- A West Michigan corporate/University partnership announced today will put more than $50 million worth of state-of-the-art, computer-aided design software in the hands of Western Michigan University engineering students.

Genesis Modeling Technologies of Grand Rapids and Johnson Controls Interiors of Holland have teamed up with IBM and Dassault Systemes of France to place CATIA, an integrated design/modeling system used by the world's leading manufacturers, in WMU computer labs. The University already has begun making needed hardware adjustments so that the first 18 CATIA workstations are operable by the start of the winter 1999 semester.

The development means that WMU's College of Engineering and Applied Sciences will be the only engineering school in Michigan and one of only a handful in the nation to have a full CATIA training facility. CATIA, developed by Dassault Systemes, is used internationally and covers the entire range of product development tasks from design and testing to manufacturing and marketing. The system, which is marketed worldwide by IBM and locally by Genesis, is considered the standard in the aircraft industry and is widely used by the world's leading automobile manufacturers.

"We are absolutely delighted that our corporate partners in this venture recognized the quality of our programs and have made a commitment that will enhance the skills of our graduates and make them prime candidates for employment," said Dr. Elson S. Floyd, president of WMU. "Our engineering graduates already are widely-regarded by industry as being 'job ready' and having the practical experience that makes them immediately productive. This public/private partnership will take our engineering programs beyond the cutting edge and will mean our graduates will have the most sought-after skills in industry today."

Genesis and Johnson Controls are providing the resources needed to implement IBM's CATIA Higher Education and Training program at WMU. The program provides colleges and universities with the advanced CAD technology at dramatically reduced prices. Genesis will donate installation of CATIA as well as ongoing training and support for instructors. Johnson Controls, which uses CATIA in its manufacturing environment, will provide funds to maintain the system at WMU.

The addition of the CATIA system to the University's computer-aided design capabilities, means that WMU's students will have access for training and research to three of the top four CAD systems in use in industry today. The fourth is a proprietary system used by a single corporation.

The first students to use the CATIA stations will be sophomore-level students enrolled in an introductory course on computer-aided design. Students in the course will get a thorough grounding in CATIA and other design software and will then able to use the software as they progress through the engineering program and complete work for their mandatory senior design project.

"We will be teaching engineering as it is applied in industry on the tools that are used in industry," said Dr. Michael Atkins, chairperson of WMU's Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering. "With state-of-the-art tools like this, we're not lagging behind industry. We're walking side by side."

Atkins says that one of the strongest aspects of the new partnership is the commitment by the corporate partners to continually update the CATIA software and train instructors in new developments as they occur.

"Our students will get the best instruction from the best-prepared instructors using up-to-date materials," Atkins said. "You can't beat that."

Installation of the CATIA system is the second major software development for the WMU College of Engineering and Applied Science in recent months. Over the summer, the University launched a partnership with another international software design firm, Moldflow, making WMU the North American training site for that predictive simulation system. Atkins says models created in the CATIA package could be imported into Moldflow software for predictive analysis of product parts. Access to both types of software, he said, makes WMU unique in its level of engineering training technology.

"This technology means we're strengthening our capabilities across the design, testing and manufacturing continuum," said Atkins.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 616 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

Additional media contacts:

Mike Shore, IBM North America (203) 486-7834,<shore@usibm.com>

Don Kines, president, Genesis Modeling Technologies (616) 974-3150, <dkines@genesismt.com> alternate contact at Genesis is Judy Cisler (616) 975-1300, <jcisler@genesismt.com>

James Kremkow, chief engineer, Johnson Controls Interior Components, Holland, Mich., at (616) 394-8820, <James.G.Kremkow@jci.com>

Dr. Michael Atkins, chairperson of WMU's Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, at (616) 387-6518, <michael.atkins@wmich.edu>

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