TACC, DOD Engage in Four-Year Transformational Design Project

February 12, 2018

Feb. 12, 2018 — The Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at The University of Texas at Austin today announced that it has partnered with the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to provide researchers with access to advanced computing resources as part of an effort to develop novel computational approaches for complex manufacturing and design problems.

TRADES, which stands for TRAnsformative DESign, is a program within the DOD Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The essence of the program is to synthesize components of complex mechanical platforms (e.g., ground vehicles, ships, or air and space craft), which leverage advanced materials and manufacturing methods such as direct digital manufacturing. To balance the freedom of shaping with material distribution requires rethinking the relationship between computers and users as the number of design possibilities exceeds human capacity and current state of the art systems. One of the major thrusts in this program is to understand how massive amounts of compute power could fundamentally change the way we approach design problems and associated computational tasks.

The program is a 48-month effort addressing two Technical Areas (TAs). In TA1, performer teams will explore and develop new mathematical and computational foundations that can transform the traditional design process. Ten teams from industry, academia, and government are evaluating competing approaches in TA1. TRADES leadership will evaluate these approaches against a set of challenge projects that will be released over the life of the effort.

TA2 is for the provision of a software integration platform for TA1, creating a common resource for collaboration and sharing of prototype implementations; this technical area is awarded to TACC.

When DOD deploys a new system in the field, total system costs include not only the cost to produce each article, but also the R&D costs that went into developing it, and the costs of maintaining and operating that system over its functional life. Bringing advanced computation to the manufacturing and design processes allows designers to evaluate new designs from a physics perspective to answer questions like: How do we balance shaping versus material distribution? How can we create infield spares and compensate for dramatic different material properties (e.g., create a polymer component to replace a metal part)? What design spaces open up with advanced materials and additive manufacturing processes? How do we effectively convey these new design options to a designer?

TACC’s approach will be to provide a comprehensive platform that these researchers with varying technical backgrounds can use to easily construct new environments in support of developing computational methods, creating and using data visualizations, and analyzing large or complex experimental data sets. TACC cyberinfrastructure tools and services are built upon open source whenever possible.

The technologies TACC will provide in support of the TRADES program feature:

  • High performance computing
  • Rapidly configurable cloud computing
  • Flexible storage
  • Diverse user interfaces
  • Existing training

“TACC has constructed an unparalleled cyberinfrastructure for engineering and science researchers,” said Dan Stanzione, executive director of TACC. “Applying this with DARPA in advanced manufacturing will show how higher education computing technologies can transform U.S. manufacturing and provide a competitive edge.”


Source: Faith Singer-Villalobos, TACC

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