The continuous CAD conquest

Supplied by: Intercad Pty Ltd
01 March, 2011

Dianne Boddy, the 2010 winner of the AGM Michell Medal is one mechanical engineer that has seen it all, and after making the transition to Solidworks with Intercad, will never look back.

The idea of shifting from 2D to 3D was a very daunting thought for many of us - as was the thought of putting down a pen and picking up a mouse to the generation before us.

But time and time again - as impossible as it may seem - we eventually conquer the latest innovation and eagerly await the next installment.  Although, we can't deny that most of us have days when the constant changes to enhance the already incredible technological tools available to today's engineering industry sometimes make us want to throw in the towel.  Especially for those of us that consider ourselves 'old school'.  But for some of us, this is never an option.

Dianne Boddy, the 2010 winner of the AGM Michell Medal is one mechanical engineer that has seen it all, and after making the transition to Solidworks with Intercad, will never look back.

By happenstance, Dianne began her engineering career in Melbourne as a tracer, after being informed that the office job she had applied for was no longer available.  She loved it.  And before long was begging to be given the opportunity to create a design of her own - although, as Dianne recalls, it was probably just "to shut me up!"

At the age of 23, after 3½ years as a tracer and a myriad of challenging designs, she was promoted to Design and Factory Liaison for the extensive range of food processing, canning, freezing and harvesting equipment the company specialised in.

But it wasn't until her first patented invention in the late 1950's that her career really took off when she developed a new automatic peach feeding plant for canning.  Within a year, she found herself in the United States preparing production design drawings of her machine.  She also gained valuable experience in die moulding and the first generation of modern plastic production before her machine design was adopted for manufacture and world-wide distribution.

Throughout the next decade, she continued to excel in what is still a predominantly masculine field, and managed to achieve a number of world firsts on top of designing several complete processing plants.   In 1967 she became the Executive Engineer for Goulburn Valley canneries and spent six years updating and expanding all of the production facilities.

In 1973, she designed a fruit canning plant to establish a fruit canning industry in Western Australia.  Afterwards, she worked with three government departments on mechanical design projects to automate a protein extraction process from waste materials.

In 1981, she applied for the Director of Mechanical Engineering Design for a robotics system designed to shear sheep - a research project at the University of Western Australia.  She was instead, appointed as a consultant and before long, found herself designing state-of-the-art research equipment in the fields of Environmental Fluid Dynamics, Materials Testing and Geo Mechanics Centrifuges.

It was at this point that the University equipped her with a HP CoCreate 2D CAD Workstation. Dianne continued her work in robotics and in 1987, became world renown after receiving accolades for her paper in Technology Application in robotics from the international engineering community.

She upgraded to 3D a few years later, but initially found it problematic as her inadequate hardware disallowed her from using it effectively.  Not to mention that "the HP manuals for the Unix software took up nearly 1.5 meters of shelf space".  But with a system overhaul, she embraced the future of 3D CAD, although still remembers the sting that the "near $30,000" for the software cost her more than 20 years ago.  How times have changed.

Overall, Dianne found that her transition into 3D CAD during the 1980's wasn't the challenge she envisioned but rather, a logical step in the right direction.  After all, she was at the precipice of her work with robotics and Centrifuges and it was in her best interest to ensure she was using the best tools available to her at the time.

And her proactive endeavors certainly paid off when the US Army called to tell her, "you have a heck of a reputation for designing servo actuators for centrifuges."  Before promptly commissioning her to design servo controlled test actuators to operate at 350 gravities in the largest centrifuge ever built and installed in the world.

However, as time passed Dianne became aware that CoCreate and Solid Design were no longer meeting her (nor industries) CAD requirements and she began the search for a more suitable 3D MCAD solution.  "CoCreate and Solid Designer were not the preferred CAD design tool of the Australian industry or Universities so I felt obliged to change."

It didn't take Dianne long to decide that Intercad could give her the most appropriate solution with SolidWorks.  "SolidWorks utterly amazes me as to its potential."

However, ease of use, shear power and design accuracy weren't the only reason's she chose SolidWorks.  Nor was the fact that 95% of University engineering departments and a vast majority of industry not just in Australia but worldwide were using SolidWorks.

It was the complete solution that she found with Intercad.  They are a business partner that aren't just a software provider but a dedicated team of professional SolidWorks engineers, design and support personnel that will continue to ensure Dianne is getting the most out of her SolidWorks investment.

Still lecturing today, Dianne considers the work she did with the US Army to be the highlight of her career - although the Robotics Award she received in Japan comes a close second.  As does receiving the AGM Michell Medal for her contributions to the art of mechanical engineering and outstanding leadership.

Over the past 60 years Dianne has never ceased to design, with a reputed 2,000 documented designs today in a wide range of applications.  And it seems we may have yet to see her best work as she adamantly continues to embrace SolidWorks and the way of the future.

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