What is Computational Engineering?
Computational Engineering is a new paradigm where engineers write computer algorithms to encode the design process for an entire class of objects. This is in contrast to traditional engineering, where designs are created visually using a CAD program and the end result is a blueprint for just one physical part.
In the Computational Engineering paradigm, any object you create today, contributes to the code base of a development platform for the design of future objects of the same type. This codified aggregate body of knowledge of engineering enables us to create more and more sophisticated products over time.
LEAP 71 is at the forefront of this new paradigm, having pioneered some of the underlying concepts of Computational Engineering. LEAP 71 has released PicoGK, its foundational framework, as open-source.
A computational engineer breaks down an object into fundamental logical parts and builds dependencies, based on the the flow of information between these building blocks. In this first stage, the engineer is less concerned about how the resulting product will look like, but will focus on requirements, fundamental design rules, manufacturing methods, and physical constraints.
In the next step, the engineer will start encoding the construction logic. Given the constraints and the input parameters, how would a traditional engineer, with their domain knowledge and experience, create a three-dimensional design for the object? The initial implementation may be trivial, and serve as a placeholder geometry, until more advanced algorithms are developed.
The engineer will then iterate and build increasingly complex code that will result in more sophisticated output. To make the computational model robust, the engineer will sweep across a broad range of parameters and validate the resulting geometry, first visually, but increasingly by integrating either physical testing or numerical simulation.
The end result is a computational model of the design process for a certain class of objects. The software code will take the parameters and production constraints as input and output a manufacturable file.
This computational model can be deployed at scale, extended and improved by other engineers, and becomes tangible intellectual property in the form of a living code base.
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