Students and faculty at the University of Tennessee are benefitting from an industry-leading plastics flow simulation program thanks to a generous software donation by Moldex3D valued at $3.65 million.
Moldex3D uses 3D computational technology to simulate the injection of molten polymer materials into molds to create parts for nearly every manufacturing industry segment. The company offers a suite of computer-aided engineering products for the plastics injection molding industry.
Moldex3D works with between 15-20 colleges, universities, and research institutions in the United States, and has more than 5,000 global customers. Last spring, the company was looking to expand its work with universities and reached out to UT.
“What was so great about the way they approached it is they are providing support for it by offering training to everyone who uses it,” said Blake Hudson, the interim executive director of development for the Tickle College of Engineering. “Sometimes you may get a software gift but don’t get the back-end support that you would if you were purchasing it. In this case, they are giving the full support.”
Moldex3D can be used across the entire college for student projects, academic research, government-funded research, and classroom instruction. Some faculty members who were already using Moldex3D in collaborative research efforts with other universities now have access to the software at UT.
UT/ORNL Governor’s Chair in Advanced Composites and Manufacturing Professor Uday Vaidya said his students have used the software to develop at least three different products for a leading automotive brand.
“The model can predict most everything and then lowers your cost of developing new parts, which is what our students need to know when they are doing work for companies and when they go out in the real world,” Vaidya said. “They need to have that knowledge to make them more marketable. If somebody has used Moldex3D, they are likely to get noticed more in the job market.”
Moldex3D has seen that play out at colleges it works with across the country, according to company representative Ramya Tallapragada.
“A lot of college students using our software when they are in school have a strong knowledge by the time they graduate,” Tallapragada said. “They go into the job market and many of our customers are looking to hire workers with their skills. It’s a benefit to all of us.”
Along with financial donations, Hudson says gifts like the one from Moldex3D are important for the university and students to help enrich their experience and inspire innovation.
“It frees up resources to do other things with. In this case, we wouldn’t have been purchasing this number of licenses to use the software without it being a donation,” Hudson said. “We are grateful to have it and are making great use of it. It’s very unlikely we would have been able to spend this amount otherwise.”
Moldex3D often holds “Molding Innovation Days” on the campuses of colleges that uses its products. The company invites local businesses to attend and go over the newest advances of its software and offers them a 30-day free trial with hands-on training.
Having access to cutting-edge products and experts in the field provides UT students with more dynamic opportunities that will position them for success once they graduate.
“The value of experiential learning for our undergrad and grad students is a differentiator because it’s giving them real-life industry development experience,” Vaidya said. “Aside from doing well in classes, they are getting very valuable training that they can apply in the industry, which otherwise could take years to get exposed
Rhiannon Potkey (865-974-0683, email@example.com)