Mechdyne Corporation announced that it has completed a multi-room computer simulation and visualization center for Alliant Techsystems Inc., a premier advanced weapon and space systems company. The Simulation Center, installed at ATK's Mission Systems headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland, features a 40-seat immersive visualization theater with an 8 megapixel (MP) projection system, two team collaboration rooms with stereoscopic display capability and a conference room with high definition (HD)-quality viewing.
ATK is using the simulation center for a range of projects, including real-time review of mission simulations and virtual engineering of manufacturing and production systems for defense technology. The center is linked via secure network connections to other ATK facilities, with efforts underway to also connect to U.S. Government sites, providing the capability for engineering teams from across the country to collaborate on design and engineering programs, and to participate in reviews of actual and simulated missions via shared presentation and videoconferencing.
"Computer simulation combined with large-scale visualization display enables us to view a wide range of data from multiple sources on a single screen, rendered either as a set of images, or integrated into a full-screen single image," said Ron Holshey, ATK Project Director, Virtual Engineering for Manufacturing, Production and Repair (VEMPR). "In initial work at the Simulation Center, we were able to demonstrate collaboration with engineering resources at one of our California sites in a real-time test of a missile guidance package for a defense client."
This demonstration was conducted in support of the on-going Navy ACT 1 Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM) System Development and Demonstration (SDD) Program. This test validated the collaborative, real-time product design, analysis, simulation and assessment features available to system design and production transition teams through the VEMPR capability. ATK plans to expand this capability through creation of a VEMPR hub at its Manufacturing Center of Excellence located at the Allegany Ballistics Laboratory (ABL) Naval Industrial Reserve Ordnance Plant (NIROP) in Rocket Center, West Virginia. The hub network architecture will facilitate expansion of the system engineering collaboration and analysis capabilities to other ATK and Government locations, and will connect the VEMPR directly to the manufacturing areas at ABL. Enhancements will include integration of Design-for-Manufacture / Design-for-Assembly and Process Optimization software with the simulation and visualization capabilities of the VEMPR, and a direct link to the ATK Product Data Management System to afford 3D assessment of as-planned, as-designed, and as-built configurations.
Mechdyne provided an advanced computer graphics cluster; 3D visualization software; all of the large screen displays, audio/visual and control station systems; fiber optic connectivity; and complete system design and integration for the Simulation Center. This included the challenging installation of the theater's single-piece 20 ft x 8 ft flat glass screen, which was lifted by crane to the 11th floor location.
Mechdyne's Conduit software is used to enable multi-channel stereoscopic viewing and Virtual Reality interaction capabilities, such as six degree-of-freedom navigation and viewer motion tracking, in several applications used in the Simulation Center, including PTC's ProEngineer and AGI's Satellite Toolkit (STK). This ability to work with virtual prototypes as if they were real, allows faster, more intuitive analysis of 3D models compared to mouse and keyboard navigation.
Display components provided by Mechdyne include the stereoscopic theater system, which utilizes two Sony SXRD projectors and two lower resolution projectors for simultaneous videoconferencing and non-stereo computer image projection, Mechdyne SX Beacon projectors for stereo viewing in the team rooms, and a 56-in. LCD display in the conference room. The visualization systems are driven by an HP-based graphics computer cluster running 64-bit Windows XP on quad-core processors. Mechdyne also provided the A/V control system in the conference room and a RGB Spectrum MediaWall controller in the theater. The theater layout includes tables with fully connected (power, network and A/V feeds into the visualization systems) seating for 18 individuals and additional viewing seats for 22.
"With its multiple elements of the system design, hardware and software engineering, and finally logistics challenges, the ATK Simulation Center was one of the most exciting projects we have tackled for any client," said Chris Clover, President and Chief Executive Officer of Mechyne. "We are very pleased with its success and look forward to further collaboration to support ATK projects and programs."