Today, New Safety and Propulsion systems are creating culture clashes within the engineering community.

Functional engineering groups that don't know each other are being forced to work together.

Electronics engineers have to communicate with body and chassis engineers; hybrid-electric-vehicle development means electrical engineers have to collaborate with folks in powertrain engineering.

Communication problems among diverse engineering groups and trouble transferring data from one department to the next are causing engineers to spend as much as 50% more time reviewing design specifications and validating test results instead of doing more productive work, says Jon Friedman, automotive industry marketing manager for The Mathworks Inc., a major vendor of computing software to auto makers and suppliers.

MathWorks says its software can address this issue and dramatically reduce validation activities.

Called Early Verification, the process works with MathWorks' MATLAB and Simulink model-based design systems to ferret out flawed specifications and algorithms before they become embedded too deeply in a new design and before the product becomes a physical prototype.

Currently too many wrong specifications and flawed algorithms (electronic sequences of instructions) are introduced into the design of a new component or system and not discovered until very late in the product-creation process, Friedman says.

Engineers need to start thinking of algorithms being testable before they become a fundamental part of a new design, he says.

Early verification boils down to capturing requirements using executable specifications and taking the computer models created from that information and turning them into system-level test benches for algorithms and components, Friedman says.

“It's about simulating to evaluate the design tradeoffs and component interactions early in the process before the physical system exists. You find errors immediately where you introduce them.

“It's not about being perfect,” Friedman says. “You want to help engineers identify and throw out bad designs as fast as possible.”

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