Has Simulation Software Made Us Smarter?

Sept. 20, 2019
One cannot question the advanced capabilities of modern simulation software tools, but how is that affecting the next generation of engineers?

Today’s high-frequency simulation software tools provide engineers with advanced capabilities that were simply not available in years past. These tools are obviously a tremendous benefit to today’s engineers tasked with solving complex problems. So, one could argue that today’s engineers have a clear advantage over previous generations of engineers who did not have such sophisticated tools at their disposal during the design process.

However, with simulation software reaching such an advanced level, one could speculate whether these tools are having a positive impact on younger engineers. Simply put, have the capabilities of today’s simulation software tools prevented younger engineers from learning theoretical concepts?

How-Siang Yap, Genesys product manager at Keysight Technologies, responded, “Initially, engineers might be tempted to rely on brute-force optimization or automatic circuit synthesis to do their jobs. But that’s only until they realize the truth about ‘garbage in, garbage out,’ in which there’s no replacement of learning the theoretical concepts behind good engineering. Advanced simulation capabilities enable them to expand the application of fundamental theoretical concepts to tackle problems that are many orders of magnitude more complex than problems that can be solved manually.”

Following on that, another question could be: Compared to past generations of engineers, do younger engineers have an easier path to success thanks to the capabilities of today’s simulation software tools? Yap answered with, “Yes, definitely. Today’s simulation tools enable fast exploration of multiple design options to determine the optimal combination of performance, size, and cost that can be accurately realized in actual hardware with minimal or no iterations. These simulated design explorations replace traditional ‘cut-and-try’ techniques, enabling younger engineers to gain design and troubleshooting experience much faster to tackle ever more complex designs.”

One additional point, brought up by an engineer at a recent conference, is that as a byproduct of advanced simulation software tools, engineers are now required to produce more (at least in his case). So, in that sense, simulation software hasn’t necessarily made the job of an engineer easier, but rather it’s resulted in even more work.

No matter where you stand in terms of this debate, there’s no doubt that simulation software has had a significant impact on this industry. And you can bet that the companies providing these tools will have more tricks to unveil in the future.

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