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From the speeches

WMG and PTC: a new phase

A new phase has begun in the long-standing relationship between US software giant PTC and WMG, the international research and education group at the University of Warwick.

Today, 23 September 2008, an agreement was struck between the two powerhouses to bring in over £35 million of state-of-the-art product design and process management tools to WMG’s new Digital Lab and to initiate cutting edge visualisation research.

Executive Vice President for PTC Barry F Cohen, over from Massachusetts for the occasion, said it was a “very important day” for him and for his company.

The relationship goes back almost 10 years and Director of WMG Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya alluded to this in his speech. He said: “PTC have been and continue to be pioneers at getting design technology into schools. We were there together at the start and I told them how important it was to get this technology to children at an early stage in their education.

“If you can get youngsters excited about engineering and about product design and get them to go into companies able to contribute then that is a win-win for the company, the individual and the nation.

“If you ask me why I so strongly support Jaguar and Land Rover it is not because there is something in it for me, it is because I believe passionately that it is imperative for this company to survive. It is imperative for manufacturing to survive and for this we need young people who are excited and have the right skills.”

Mr Cohen, who presides over a company with a $1 billion annual turnover and with 5,000 employees around the world, praised Lord Bhattacharyya’s work. He said: “When I think about today’s world I think there are three characteristics that mark out success: leadership, innovation and partnership.

“In terms of leadership: Lord Bhattacharyya has always been first to spot threats and opportunities, and then, on innovation, to act on them before anyone else. This Digital Lab is the latest in a string of achievements of WMG.

“And Warwick was among the first institution in the world to recognise the importance of partnership; of working collaboratively with industry.”

The agreement also marks the foundation of a PTC Academy which will offer education and research projects to WMG’s students and will involve working with schools in the region to strengthen work already done by PTC in this area.

Mr Cohen said: “Universities are about educating students. But, for engineering companies, they may have to wait four or five years for graduate engineers to reach the skill level they need. If we put this technology and training into schools, we will have graduate engineers who may have spent 10 to 12 years working on the very software packages being used in companies such as Jaguar and Land Rover and BAE Systems.”

He added: “ Lord Bhattacharyya once told me that the definition of a world class company is one that knows how to give back to its community. He told me that success is about more than the bottom line, more than profitability. And he was right. By giving to the community in the way we have, we are helping our future customers, and that’s good for business.”

Over 5 million students around the world are learning about product development using PTC software in Design & Technology classes.  PTC donates it's Pro/ENGINEER software to secondary schools in the UK and over 10,000 teachers have been trained in the use of PTC software as part of the 'CAD in Schools' initiative.

The launch event to mark the partnership, held in WMG’s newest building, the £13 million International Digital Laboratory, brought industrialists, head teachers, academics and research students together for the signing ceremony plus a series of workshops demonstrating the technology.

As Mr Cohen said: “Products are not designed in one place; in a closed room somewhere. There is input from different companies and different teams from across the world and each person that is involved in that process needs to be able to see what is going on with the product at every stage.”

Lord Bhattacharyya backed this up saying: “When you are designing a car, there are 28,000 parts in the average car. This means multiple companies supplying components at different stages in the design process. If they are all able to access the right information at the right time then the savings in time and cost are immense.”

WMG’s Professor Vinesh Raja demonstrated haptics – using a piece of computer hardware similar to a stylus – to ‘feel’ objects in cyberspace and try out products like the Apple iPhone. The same technology is being developed to conduct virtual operations for training surgeons.

And Professor Alan Chalmers’ team showed their work on hyper-real visualisation and demonstrated how the way the human eye sees things could mean dramatic savings in computer processing power.

A PTC partner, visualisation company Virtalis, showed off their 3D representations of working CAD models. A realistic-looking computer model can be viewed and manipulated from every angle by designers, customers and marketers to better understand the product and to spot errors quickly.

For media enquiries please contact Zoë Howard, Head of Communications for WMG, on 07824 540845 or zoe.howard@warwick.ac.uk