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by NSF-funded scientists on solid modeling led to widespread use of Computer-Aided
Design and Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAD/CAM), which has revolutionized
much of the manufacturing processes in the U.S.A.
CAD systems allow mechanical designers to create
geometric models of the parts they want to produce using computer graphics.
Digital descriptions are essential for computerized manufacturing, since
they can be interpreted to produce the instructions that computerized,
numerically controlled machine tools use to make hardware.
From small beginnings at Carnegie Mellon University and other institutions
in the early 1970s, NSF-funded research evolved into an average total
of several million dollars annually at dozens of universities. NSF was
willing to support and eventually encourage proposals to address problems
with design that neither private firms nor federal mission agencies were
interested in solving.
This process was seemingly instrumental to the successes realized through
CAD/CAM. For example, research at the University
of Rochester developed the first practical software for three-dimensional
modeling. This advance raised quality, reduced cost and helped the United
States regain the productivity it lost in the 1980s.
A significant development has been the CAD modeling of objects as three-dimensional
the virtual assembly of products,such
as the Boeing 777 aircraft. With NSF and industry
funding, a system to produce software was refined to the point where it
would be used by industry in 1982. More than 1,000 licenses have since
been issued, resulting in widespread industry use.
CAD is also used forthe
design of silicon chips.
For a number of years, NSF sponsored jointly with the Department of Defense's
(DOD's) Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) the NSF Summer Workshop
on Logic Synthesis, involving faculty from a number of universities, including
the University of California-Berkeley, Stanford and the University of
Colorado, as well as representatives from industry.
This workshop played a central role in the development of state-of-the-art
logic synthesis algorithms and prototype software systems that formed
the basis of most successful synthesis programs used in the electronics
Without this very sophisticated CAD software, it would not be possible
to design, build and verify the complex integrated circuits that power
the information technology age in which we are living.