Turkey, Team Building, and Spaghetti Towers: PADT’s Turkey Bowl 2014

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[EDITOR’S NOTE:  This was written some time ago and was set to automatically go out. But I just found it stuck in the “pending” folder.  So late, but here it is]  

It has been a great 20th anniversary year for PADT.  And we decided to close it out with some fun.  Now, if you know engineers, getting them to take part in any team building event is tough. And many of our employees came to PADT to get away from such things. The phrase "team building" causes a Pavlovian eye roll.  As we discussed options for November, we looked at a lot of activities. When we settled on doing an event that not only involved teams, but also color coded shirts, puzzles, and (gasp) a lean towards being healthier I said "we should try it, but it probably won't work" and hoped to be proven wrong. Even with the help of the great folks at Physix, I didn't have high hopes. But you don't know until you try.

I was proven wrong. 

Kickoff: Halloween and Pumpkin Launching

We started with a kickoff event on Halloween, which was nice enough to be on a Friday this year. In the past we have carved pumpkins and built a dry-ice pumpkin mortar.  This year we fed everyone to get them in a good mood and then put them in teams.  After some trivia contests we moved over the the first event – a pumpkin slingshot.

We finished up the kickoff event with rules and a list of ways to get points:  go to lunch with team mates, go for a hike, attend a class at Physix, get a fitness assessment, lose weight, answer the weekly quiz, and walk.  The easiest way to get points was to keep track of your step count.  

Three Weeks of Getting Points

The next three weeks were fun. Different teams approached things differently. Some opted to lunch together, often.

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Others did a fitness assessment or attended a class.  One team even tried to take a hike… on Photoshop:

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Funny how their picture on Camelback Mountain looks a lot like their lunch picture…  

After a bit of a kerfuffle on Body Mass Index results from the fitness assessment, we held a brown bag seminar by the lake.  The reason why Physix is a great match for PADT is that their approach to health is science and fact based.  No chakra alignment here.  So Shannon came armed with statistics, studies, and fancy measuring devices with dials on them that we could write down numbers from.

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There was also a weight loss competition.  Points for every pound lost. There are and will not be pictures from that portion of the event. But we can share that some people dropped a few pounds over the three week period, and some more than a few.  

Turkey and Contests 

At the end of the three weeks we gathered together again to take part in our annual Thanksgiving Feast, and compete to win some additional points for our teams.

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We started with a plank contest. Expecting 5 or so people to participate, maybe one from each team. Everyone gave it a shot:

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Most people lasted a minute, then they started to drop.  

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A ton of people lasted to 2 minutes, then 3, then 4.  6 people were holding at 4:30.

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Purple had a strong showing, Renee lasting past 5 minutes.  Clinton held strong for purple.  Don, and Demola held on for Orange and Black.

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In the end, Demola won a ton of points for his team, lasting past 6 minutes.  

Next we tried a relay event that involved passing a ball over our heads and taking a step, then running to the back, then passing… what was that again. It took us a while to figure it out.  In hindsight, we should have created a process diagram before the event.  

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But Green and Black figured it out and charged to the finish line… not even stopping when one competitor stumbled.  No one left behind, as long as they have the right shirt color.

Inside, we had a timed puzzle building event. It got kind of nasty when the teams realized that each team had two pieces from another puzzle. People get aggressive when points are on the line.  There may have been some hiding, there may have been some prying of fingers open.

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The last event was to build a tower out of spaghetti, string, tape, and a marshmallow. Whoever got their marshmallow the highest got the points.  Four of the teams built tripods and went for height.

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Two teams figured out that spaghetti bends and breaks.  Blue felt that building a box was better. I guess that is thinking outside the box?

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But the winner was a combination of tripod and "stoutness."  Green figured it out:

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There was a dessert contest as well. I grudgingly mention it because my dessert didn't make it into the finals… but I'm not bitter, not at all.

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After that we all went back to work while the PADT HR and Physix teams summed up all the points and figured out who won.  

Green, thanks to their tower, squeaked into third place:

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Some were happier than others about the competition.

Second place was won by the superior team, and we would have won if my dessert had been in the finals:

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And the winners were the Black Team.  

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You have to admit, they do look pretty confident.

What we Learned 

Overall, the three weeks were a nice distraction from a very busy period.  Some people that would not have normally spent time together, did. Some people learned a bit about fitness or nutrition that they didn't know before. A lot of people walked a lot more.  

We also learned a couple of lessons:

  1. You can have a positive and constructive team building event at a company that is kind of wired to go against such corporate group-think activities.

  2. Not everyone wants to participate. That's OK and it is no reason why those that do can't have fun.  And you can find small ways for people to take part.

  3. Some people are REALLY competitive. 

  4. The average core strength at PADT is stronger than we thought.

  5. The breath mints we got to combat coffee breath are 50 calories, and the average person has to walk around 500 steps to burn them off. 

  6. If you don't take these things too seriously, they can be fun and a nice break.

  7. PADT's employees are clever. They tried to get points for waking up in the morning and mouse clicks.  You have seen the Photoshop picture. They also wanted to pass off the PADT Medical skeleton as Don Pegg after his diet.  It didn't work.

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For those of you who are thinking of doing a similar event at your company, some key words of advice:

  1. Bring in someone to help that is a good fit for your culture. Don't try and fit a standard or large company approach to a small or medium company.  Find someone that gets you and maybe pushes your organization a bit further than you would push it on your own.

  2. Keep it short, keep it simple.

  3. Don't let the negative people drag it down. You will have some people that this is not a good fit for. If you try and please them, they will still be unhappy and it will lesson the event for others.  Just accept that not everyone will be on-board and move on.

  4. Place your tongue firmly in your cheek.  If you take these things too seriously, they will fail.  Make some fun of yourselves and the activity, it takes that edge off.

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If you do it right, you might even get engineers to touch each other.  

Press Release: Dedicated 3D Scanning Added to Round Out PADT’s Scanning Solutions

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PADT has been offering 3D Scanning solutions for some time. Over time the company has added the sale of 3D Scanning hardware and software, training for 3D Scaning, and limited 3D Scanning services.  With the addition of a full time scanning engineer, PADT is now able to offer deciated scanning servcies to our customers.

Ademola Falada joins our team from Minnesota where he worked for a scanner manufacturer, CGI, for two years after graduating with an engineering degree from the University of Minnesota.  He brings extensive knowledge of scanning equipment and the scanning process.  Since joining PADT in the late summer, he has been providing limited services to our existing customers as he builds up our scanning capability and puts everything needed to provide a world class service in place.  He will be assisted by engineers and technicians that have been providing scanning on a part time basis in the past.

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By offering optical and cross sectional scanning, PADT can provide a more accurate solution to a broader range of customers.  

Read the press release on this expanded service below

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You can also review our scanning services on our website

Or simply email us at rp@padtinc.com or call 480.813.4884 and our team will be more than happy to explain what we can do and provide you with a quote. 

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Press Release:

Dedicated 3D Scanning Added to Round Out PADT’s Scanning Solutions 

PADT now has a full time engineer and equipment dedicated to providing 3D Scanning services to customers.  Coupled with the sales and support of 3D scanners and software, PADT can now offer a complete solution to its growing number of scanning customers. 

Tempe, AZ – January 8, 2015 – Phoenix Analysis & Design Technologies, Inc. (PADT, Inc.), the Southwest’s largest provider of simulation, product development, and rapid prototyping services and products, is pleased to announce the addition of complete 3D part scanning to our services offering.  Based on growing customer requests, PADT has invested in equipment, software, and personnel to provide a dedicated resource in this area.  The company has been providing scanning as a service for many years, but on a part time basis when staff was free and customers could not find another resource.  PADT’s 3D Printing sales team has also been selling scanners and scanning software for over three years.  Bringing someone on board to focus on this critical need in product development was the next logical step.



3D Scanning is used by engineers to take a part in the real world and measure it accurately in order to get a model of the part on a computer.  This is done using a variety of technologies including lasers, patterned light, and high resolution pictures. The technology is used in product development to capture geometry of existing parts to reproduce (reverse engineering) them or design parts that attach or interact with them. It can also be used to inspect manufactured parts.



Ademola Falada joins our team from Minnesota where he worked for a scanner manufacturer, CGI, for two years after graduating with an engineering degree from the University of Minnesota.  He brings extensive knowledge of scanning equipment and the scanning process.  Since joining PADT in the late summer, he has been providing limited services to our existing customers as he builds up our scanning capability and puts everything needed to provide a world class service in place.  He will be assisted by engineers and technicians that have been providing scanning on a part time basis in the past.



“We are now ready to open our doors wide to customers who need accurate, timely, and useful scanning of their parts.” Commented Rey Chu, one of PADT’s owners and the Principal responsible for the company’s manufacturing services. “We never felt that we could deliver the level of service that customers expect from PADT until we had enough equipment and a dedicated engineer. We are there now.”



The scanning lab consists of two CGI Cross Sectional Scanners for high fidelity scanning of complex plastic parts with internal features, a Geomagic Capture blue light scanner, and a Steinbichler high resolution blue light scanner currently under evaluation. This combination of equipment is matched with the full suite of Geomagic scanning software to provide inspection data, cleaned point clouds, tessellated solids (STL), or usable CAD models. 



Customers who are interested in having parts scanned, or who want to learn more about the service, can contact the team at 480.813.4884 or scanning@padtinc.com 



Phoenix Analysis and Design Technologies, Inc. (PADT) is an engineering service company that focuses on helping customers who develop physical products by providing Numerical Simulation, Product Development, and Rapid Prototyping products and services. PADT’s worldwide reputation for technical excellence and an experienced staff is based on its proven record of building long term win-win partnerships with vendors and customers. Since its establishment in 1994, companies have relied on PADT because “We Make Innovation Work.“  With over 75 employees, PADT services customers from its headquarters at the Arizona State University Research Park in Tempe, Arizona, its Littleton, Colorado office, Albuquerque, New Mexico office, and Murray, Utah office, as well as through staff members located around the country. More information on PADT can be found at www.PADTINC.com.

Getting to know ANSYS – SIwave

This video is an introduction to ANSYS SIwave – an analysis tool for Integrated Circuits and PCBs

In Memoriam: Dr. Mark Johnson

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A picture of Mark in his office at PADT. The equations on the white board were not put there for the picture. This was taken after a meeting where he and members of his team solved a tough rotor dynamics problem for a customer.
It is with incredible sadness that we must inform you that our friend and co-owner of PADT, Mark Johnson, passed away on November 25th from complications due to melanoma. He was with his wife, resting comfortably when he left us. This is a huge loss to anyone that ever knew Mark.

He joined PADT in the early days with the goal of building the company’s product development capability.  His focus and the focus of his team was using engineering to make the world a better place.  They did this directly through their work in alternative energy and medical devices and indirectly by helping companies from a wide range of industries.  There are hydrogen powered cars and buses today humming down the street using pumps and blowers that were Mark’s creations. Doctors are using devices every day to treat patients that Mark helped to design and test.  He also participated in the Startup and Medical Device engineering community in Arizona, serving as a judge, mentor, and board member across multiple organizations.  And as a co-owner of PADT, he helped direct the company, contributing strongly to our culture and reputation in the community.

Before joining PADT, Mark had a similar impact at Garrett (AlliedSignal, Honeywell), The University of Arkansas, and Ballard.  Few people in our industry had such a strong understanding of engineering fundamentals and his ability to apply that basic knowledge to help customers across industries will be sorely missed.

Outside of work, Mark was a loving father and husband, who always took time to be with his wife and two children.  Those of you who knew him outside of work know how important they were to him, and he to them.  

Since his passing many people have asked how they can honor Mark or share their thoughts on him.  We are recommending that those who wish to honor him simply follow his example.  Look for the good in people, help others when you can, and always ask questions.  Mark was a master questioner and often answering those questions revealed more to the person he was asking the question of than anyone else.  He often began meetings with new customers and partners with a simple statement: “I want to warn you, I like to ask questions, lots of questions.”

In that this blog is mostly read by people in technology, the best way you can honor his memory is to carry on his mission of using technology to make the world a better place. Help a startup, develop a more efficient system, commercialize a new technology that improves the lives of the less fortunate, enhance patient care, or help to explore and understand our universe.  There are so many ways that those of us involved in engineering and science can make a huge difference, just as Mark did.

Please feel free to leave your thoughts about Mark in the comments below. If you would like to send a note or card to his family, please mail it to:

Mark Johnson Memorial
PADT, Inc
7755 S Research Dr, Suite 110
Tempe, AZ  85284

The family has asked that any donations be made to Heifer International or Hospice of the Valley.

Coming Soon to CEI

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Check out this great video from CEI about PADT’s new office in Phoenix.
Watch this space for more details as we get closer to launch.

Video Tips: Using ACT to change Default Settings in ANSYS Mechanical

A short video showing how ACT (ANSYS Customization Toolkit) can be used to change Default Settings for analyses done in ANSYS Mechanical.  This is a very small subset of the capabilities that ACT can provide.  Stay tuned for other videos showing further customization examples.

The example .xml and python file is located below.  Please bear in mind that to use these “scripted” ACT extension files you will need to have an ACT license.  Compiled versions of extensions don’t require any licenses to use.  Please send me an email (manoj@padtinc.com) if you are wondering how to translate this example into your own needs.

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Video Tips: Workflow for Designing Electric Motors in ANSYS

A quick video showing you a great workflow for designing electric motors. It shows going from a quick template based design tool to a full 3D analysis tool

Still Time to Attend an ANSYS User Group Conference

conference-2014-logoApril is almost over, and you know what that means? It’s time for the ANSYS Convergence Regional Conference to begin.  These free events are held once a year and are an opportunity for the entire spectrum of ANSYS users to get together for one day. Each event is a bit different, but the goal is the same:  Users share presentations on what they have done and the experts from ANSYS, Inc. share what is new and exciting with the products.  

These events are technical in nature, with a general session followed by specific technical tracks.  

conf2And PADT will be at the Santa Clara and Houston events this year, highlighting our services and products and presenting in Santa Clara.

The four US events are:

There are also 12 events in Asia, 12 in Europe, 7 in Latin America, and 7 in  the Africa/Middle East region.
See the full list here.

Remember, it’s free and always educational.  Even in our modern world of blogs, forums, and webinars, it is valuable to just spend some time talking with experts and other users.

PADT is a “Silver Sponsor” so we would love to see you there!

Getting to know ANSYS – Rigid Body Dynamics (RBD)

This video is an introduction to ANSYS RBD – an add on module to ANSYS Mechanical for analyzing rigid mechanisms.

Getting to know ANSYS – Icepak

As part of our “Getting to know ANSYS” video series, this video is an introduction to ANSYS Icepak – an electronics thermal analysis package in the ANSYS Product Suite.
 

“Getting to know ANSYS” Video series

The ANSYS Product Suite contains a large number of modules that are each tailored for a particular area in the simulation and analysis world.  We, at PADT, realize that many of our customers are not aware or are confused at where each of these modules fits in to the analysis spectrum. 

The “Getting to know ANSYS” videos will hopefully help everyone to understand these modules a little better.  Each video will focus on one module and will showcase the following in a mixture of presentations and mini-demos: 

  • What each module is
  • What are its capabilities
  • Why is it useful
  • Who can benefit from using it

The videos will be in the “Getting to know ANSYS” playlist on PADT’s Youtube Channel.

Please feel free to let us know how the videos are and definitely let us know which module that you are interested in and that you’d like to see next. That will help us to plan these future videos accordingly.

You can reach out to me directly at manoj.mahendran@padtinc.com for questions or followups to these or the Focus Video Tips” videos. 

Thanks!

Video Tips: Drop Impact using ANSYS AUTODYN

This is a quick video showing an example of doing an impact study using a steel slug and a reinforced concrete block.

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Customers in the News: Space Data Corp Demonstrates Communications Balloon at Near Space Alliance

CaptureIt is always great to see PADT customers in the news.  This past weekend, January 25, 2014, our long time customer Space Data Corp. launched “a 15-foot latex balloon to carry communications equipment aloft to above 65,000 feet to relay voice and data over a 600-mile range.”  This was at a meeting of the Arizona Near Space Technology Alliance, an organization we suspect may have more PADT customers as members.

Read about it here, or watch the video.

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The article also points out the two of our local US Representatives, Kyrsten Sinema (D) and Matt Salmon (R) were there.  It was great to see actual bi-partisan support for local business and technology.

PADT has been providing Space Data with design, simulation, prototyping, and manufacturing consulting help since about the time the company was founded.  The company was an early adopter of the extensive use of rapid prototyping in the design and test of their systems, long before it was considered cool and called 3D Printing.

Every time we see one of their balloons go up, we feel proud to have contributed to their growth and success.

 

Video Tips: Multiphysics Simulation with ANSYS Maxwell and ANSYS Mechanical – Part 2

This is Part 2 of our 2 part video series showing you a multiphysics simulation with ANSYS Maxwell and ANSYS Mechanical. In this video we take the results from ANSYS Maxwell and use it to compute the temperature distribution and finally the structural deformation due to the current through the parts.

The Part 1 video can be found here

Video Tips: Multiphysics Simulation with ANSYS Maxwell and ANSYS Mechanical – Part 1

This Part 1 of 2 video shows you the first half of a multiphysics simulation using the low-frequency electromagnetics tool ANSYS Maxwell to do an eddy current analysis. Part 2 will involve taking the results of this analysis and transferring it to perform a thermal-structural analysis using ANSYS Mechanical.