To date I have had a couple of blog posts about IDEA Studio:
Last week I was able to see it in action first hand. I attended a presentation entitled Chaotic Mixing Design for Engineered Wetlands by Evan A. Variano and Cristina M. Poindexter of UC Berkeley.
Before this presentation I didn't know much about wetlands other than they are a habitat for aquatic animals/hydrophytic vegetation, and it's a good idea to preserve them. Evan and Cristina pointed out many reasons that wetlands are valuable including that they are a great source for creating soil. Wetlands also provide a natural mechanism for removing toxic materials from water. A key element of the purification process is a slow flow of water through the wetland. Purification is less effective if water is allowed to "take shortcuts" through the wetland. So these UC Berkeley scientists are studying ways to pump water into wetlands to reduce the number of shortcuts that get created by factors such as vegetation, wind, and topography.
Evan and Cristina spent 6 weeks in the IDEA Studio. They were able to use Autodesk Maya to model patches of wetlands and experiment with different pumping approaches. In a two pump scenario they evaluated, running both pumps at equal and continuous force resulted in numerous shortcuts. Contrary to what one might think, turning the pumps on and off randomly produced the greatest mixing ability of the wetland and minimized the shortcuts. Wetlands thrive on chaos! Evan and Cristina were able to present their findings easily using Autodesk Algor Simulation. Capitalizing on the fact that they were doing their work on Autodesk soil, Evan and Cristina met with Senior Research Scientist CTO-Autodesk Research, Jos Stam, fluid designer for Maya, to get first hand insight on Maya's abilities. Autodesk Labs own Eddy Kuo also provided some insight on modeling as well as Maya tips.
The IDEA Studio is a wonderful thing. Industry and academia really come together. This happens with shared knowledge, available space, free software, as well as a mutual appreciation for making the world a better place. I am proud to work for Autodesk.
Celebrating our mix of academia and industry is alive in the lab.