A partnership between Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and ANSYS, a leading simulation software developer, will prepare future engineers for a manufacturing revolution.

The Canonsburg-based company has agreed to help build a 30,000-square-foot engineering lab on CMU’s campus. The three-story facility will sit between Hamerschlag and Porter Hall off Frew Street, and be outfitted with ANSYS simulation software.

The lab will help transition students into what’s being called Industry 4.0, a new frontier of manufacturing where testing, building and production will become more efficient, says Mark Hindsbo, CMO and VP of marketing at ANSYS. In order to succeed, new engineers must be proficient with simulation software, which can decrease the time necessary to introduce a product to the market.

“By and large, [students] can’t come out today like they did when I came out of school,” says Hindsbo, who studied physics and mathematics at the Technical University of Denmark. “They can solve and understand the equations, but they don’t come out with the usage of these technologies. It’s almost like being an accountant and coming out without having used Excel, or being a computer programmer never having used a programming language.”

The new building will provide a variety of resources to all of CMU’s College of Engineering disciplines and degree levels, from undergraduate to PhD. A large maker space will occupy the bottom level, where CMU students and faculty, as well as ANSYS and industrial partners, will have access to physics-based simulation tools and cutting-edge technologies for making, assembling and testing their designs. The second floor will house lecture halls, and the third floor will focus on research.

Plans for the new building also include an 11,000-square-foot nanofabrication clean room and manufacturing capability for large-scale projects.

Hindsbo says ANSYS’s investment would prove advantageous to CMU’s broad range of research in autonomous vehicles, additive manufacturing, robotics, and in the biomedical and mechanical fields. The new approach would streamline traditional testing methods such as build and break, a trial-and-error process where identifying flaws in a product could take anywhere from weeks to months. Simulation technology would enable hundreds of tests on one design in as little as an hour.

“We do have a unique opportunity because that manufacturing heritage is coming back,” says Hindsbo. “As you marry the physical world and the computer world, there are places like Silicon Valley that have that heritage from the computer world, but they might be lacking the manufacturing world. You have both ingredients here in Pittsburgh coming together in some very interesting ways.”

Groundbreaking for the building is scheduled for fall with completion set for sometime in 2018.

See the video below for more information on the partnership between ANSYS and CMU.