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Automotive IESF 2013

Mike Jensen

Mike Jensen

Posted Sep 30, 2013

Another IESF is in the Mentor Graphics history books. Record crowds gathered at the Ford Convention & Event Center in Dearborn, Michigan to learn about automotive system design using the latest Mentor Graphics tools.

Along with hearing from keynote and industry speakers representing a broad spectrum of experience in automotive development, attendees chose from a long and varied list of technical sessions on topics ranging from wire harness design to mechatronic system simulation to infotainment design to design data management. Many of the presentations in these sessions were recorded and will soon be posted on

For my part I presented in two technical sessions. In the first session I talked about the challenges of mechatronic system design, including how SystemVision and SystemVision conneXion can help integrate different, and often disparate, system elements (think analog and digital electronics, sensors, actuators, a mechanical plant of some sort, and software) into a single design and analysis environment. To illustrate SystemVision’s capabilities, I used our Electronic Throttle Controller example, which shows SystemVision working in its sweet spot of mechatronic system design. And while the entire system can be thoroughly analyzed using just SystemVision, the analysis gets even more interesting and powerful when SystemVision is linked with other tools and processes, such as Simulink from The Mathworks, LabVIEW from National Instruments, or C++ code, using SystemVision conneXion.

In my second presentation I used our Automotive Electrical System example to illustrate why simulation is an important and effective tool for analyzing a vehicle electrical distribution system. For this session I showed how SystemVision can be used to detect hidden system faults, and therefore help design teams understand how a realistic sequence of events can easily cause system problems. In this case, a week connector caused an electrical system failure. The solution? Simply raise the connector’s voltage rating. An easy fix, but a problem not easily detected without simulation. The point of my presentation was showing how simulation is an effective tool for determining wire component sizing specifically, and deriving electrical system design rules in general.

In addition to the technical sessions, an Aston Martin graced the conference center lobby floor, and Oliver Kuttner, Founder and CEO of Edison2, brought his X-Prize winning car to show and tell. The contrast between the two cars was of course striking: the Aston Martin on one end of the scale representing some of the best high-end sports car engineering in the world, and Oliver’s car on the other end of the scale looking a little quirky, but sporting some of the best fuel economy numbers in the industry. Oliver’s X-Prize winning car has inspired the development of Edison2’s Very Light Car concept vehicle, which Oliver claims gets 115 miles per gallon on the highway with no electrical assist. Pretty impressive. And he has some interesting ideas about the future of the automobile. I will let you know if we get to post the video of his presentation. In the meantime, visit his website at for a quick overview of his ideas and the engineering behind the Very Light Car.

So what really is the automobile’s future? Will it trend towards the Aston Martins, or the Very Light Cars? Since not everyone can afford the Aston, logic dictates the trend will be toward Very Light Cars — improved fuel efficiency for internal combustion drives, longer range for electric drives, all the while being safer to drive and more connected. I for one am looking forward to what will certainly be very interesting industry developments.

Of course, advances in automotive technology require advances in design methodologies. And better methodologies depend on capable design tools, which is where IESF comes in. It is a perfect forum for learning about Mentor Graphics tools for meeting the technology demands of more advanced automobiles. IESF was, as always, an interesting, fun, and informative event. Attendees learned about Mentor Graphics tools, and Mentor Graphics folks learned how design teams user our tools, or where they could use our tools, to improve design processes. As always, my conversations with attendees uncovered more application possibilities for SystemVision. If you are new to mechatronic system analysis using simulation, visit the SystemVision and SystemVision conneXion websites to learn how the SystemVision tool family can help you design better performing systems, automotive or otherwise, in less time, and at lower cost.

IESF, Mechatronic, SystemVision conneXion

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About Mike Jensen

Mike JensenMost career paths rooted in high technology take many interesting (and often rewarding) twists and turns. Mine has certainly done just that. After graduating in electrical engineering from the University of Utah (go Utes!), I set off to explore the exciting, multi-faceted high tech industry. My career path since has wound its way from aircraft systems engineering for the United States Air Force, to over two decades in applications engineering and technical marketing for leading design automation software companies, working exclusively with mechatronic system modeling and analysis tools. Along the way, I’ve worked with customers in a broad range of industries and technologies including transportation, communications, automotive, aerospace, semiconductor, computers, and consumer electronics; all-in-all a very interesting, rewarding, and challenging ride. In my current gig, I work on technical marketing projects for Mentor Graphics' SystemVision product line. And in my spare time I dream up gadgets and gizmos, some even big enough to qualify as systems, that I hope someday to build -- providing I can find yet a little more of that increasingly elusive spare time. Visit Mike Jensen's Blog

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