Iowa State University nameplate

Inside Iowa State
Gold bar
October 10, 2003

Software assists with design-as-you-go

Good For Business logo
by Debra Gibson
Pitch the three-ring binders and tip the filing cabinets -- Proplanner is comin' to an office near you., to be exact. This online manufacturing design software helps engineers bring new or updated products into production faster and for less money than before, and then lets them share their design information with colleagues instantly.

It's the brainchild of a group led by Dave Sly and Helena Poist, both of whom have taught in the colleges of Business and Engineering, and who were involved in the founding of Cimtechnologies, one of the university's first incubator businesses.

In the "old days," manufacturers like the nation's major automotive companies bought Cimtechnologies software to more efficiently design their factories and shorten production cycles. Today, industries "rent" online software, (much like cable) to help facilitate "concurrent engineering." This process allows assembly lines to begin manufacturing a product while its designers still are working on its end stages. Information becomes accessible immediately to all involved in the process.

"We're creating software applications that help engineers determine how to make things, and then how to document how to make things," Sly said. Even today, many large manufacturers rely on complex paper trails or antiquated computer systems to record these processes.

Currently, Iowa companies like Maytag, Hon Industries and Lennox are evaluating and providing input and expertise for the online software applications, customized to a degree by site visits from staff and ISU student interns gaining valuable work experience. The ISU Research Park-based company also is or has been engaged in research projects with the Small Business Development Center, Pappajohn Center for Entreneurship, Center for Advanced Technology Development, the Iowa Manufacturing Extension Partnership and the industrial engineering department.

... Becoming the Best
Ames, Iowa 50011, (515) 294-4111
Published by: University Relations,
Copyright © 1995-2003, Iowa State University. All rights reserved.