Case Study

Demonstrating leadership and innovation through advanced PLM curriculum

Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana (UPB)

University provides students with real-world experience for each stage of the product lifecycle; graduates adopt cutting-edge PLM tools in the workplace

Trendsetter among higher education institutions

In 1998, Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana (UPB), located in Medellín, Colombia, was in search of the latest 3D design tools, including those used by other higher education institutions around the world. After conducting research to determine the most advanced product lifecycle management (PLM) tools across industry and education, UPB contacted the leading PLM providers. Ultimately, UPB found Siemens PLM Software’s technology not only to be among the most advanced, but UPB also noted that the Siemens team was the most proactive in assisting the university with its requirements. This resulted in UPB receiving a grant for using Solid Edge® software in the classroom. In fact, UPB was Siemens PLM Software’s first customer in Colombia.

That was the beginning of a 12+ year relationship between Siemens PLM Software and UPB, a relationship that UPB credits with enabling the university to become established as a pioneer and trendsetter among higher education institutions around the country. “UPB has become a point of reference as other schools request its opinion when acquiring new design software, even asking that our institution provide training on how to better take advantage of Siemens PLM Software’s tools,” says Silvio Andrés Salazar Martínez, a mechanical engineer and research leader at UPB.

Salazar notes, “UPB and Siemens PLM Software have similar business priorities, as we both have a long-term vision for our relationship with customers. In our case, we want our students to be successful and competitive in the real world, both at the local and international levels. Siemens PLM Software has helped us accomplish that goal.”

UPB is currently training its students using a broad array of product lifecycle management tools from Siemens PLM Software: Solid Edge software, NX™ software, Teamcenter® software, and Tecnomatix® software.

The “relationship” – a critical success factor

“Siemens PLM Software is a true ally for UPB, offering the institution the ability to handle all stages of the product lifecycle with CAD (computer-aided design), CAE (computer-aided engineering) and CAM (computer-aided manufacturing) tools,” says Salazar. “In addition to the Solid Edge 3D solution for design, we use Siemens’ NX, which provides comprehensive digital product development; Siemens’ Teamcenter, which manages the entire digital lifecycle; and the Tecnomatix solution, which includes a complete digital manufacturing suite.”

Having all of these solutions allows students in the industrial, mechanical and aeronautical engineering curriculum, as well as in the industrial design program, to master the design of components and equipment. It also enables them to actually mechanize and produce the final project. In fact, about 150-160 students use tools from Siemens PLM Software every semester. “Most of our students feel so comfortable with these tools that, when they graduate, they introduce them to their new employers; therefore, the Siemens PLM Software solutions continue being part of the professional lives of most of our alumni,” states Salazar.

Offering students real-life, concept-through-production experience

Fifty-five years ago, UPB became the first university to offer a Mechanical Engineering degree in Medellín. Now, there are four other regional schools offering that degree; so the competition to attract the right student body is high. UPB continues to excel through curriculum and program innovation. Salazar explains, “UPB’s long-term vision has allowed it to attract the best students and offer them the greatest opportunities. In 2004, the university started an international program where its students have the opportunity to go on-site and apply their newly acquired skills internationally, including in Australia, England and the United States.”

UPB’s goal is to offer students real-life experiences that equip them for the competitive job market. That’s why the institution’s next plan is to have students who have attained different levels of academic achievement work on group projects, with each student taking care of a specific stage of the product lifecycle – from digital design to actual production. This affords the students the chance to apply a variety of CAD/CAE/CAM tools throughout their academic careers. The students manage project information and collaborate with each other using Teamcenter.

Currently, the institution is participating in the Formula SENA, a project organized by the National Educational Service for Learning (SENA per Spanish acronym), in which several students from various higher education institutions are working together on manufacturing a car that will ultimately compete in a race. The student group is using Solid Edge for the car design. In addition, with Teamcenter, the group is able to manage each others’ car components, regardless of the product development software that each student uses. Students involved in the project indicated that, with the Siemens CAD/CAE/CAM and product data management (PDM) tools, the team was able to easily combine the design, engineering and manufacturing processes. During development, this fostered valuable feedback and enabled improvement of each design component.

“Using the product lifecycle management tools of Siemens PLM Software, we have accomplished our mission,” says Salazar. “Our alumni are fully ready for real life; hence, they are grateful and loyal, and they support our new projects to help the next generation of students.”

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