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TrueInsight offers a bi-annual scholarship to students in the STEM-related fields.  To be considered, students submit an essay to the prompt:

With the use of Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) technology, what previous scientific ideas which seemed out of reach will become realized in the future?


The winner of this award is Ethan Bravo, Engineering Physics Major from Tulane University. Born and raised in New Orleans, Ethan has been interested in engineering from an early age.  "Wanting to work in a field whose lifeblood is ingenuity and problem solving, and whose aim is to apply those to the real world and create amazing possibilities for people has come easy to me. It's been exciting, albeit a bit intimidating, but never discouraging to see how much interest has picked up in the study of engineering as I've grown up." 

Ethan's Submission:

Computer Aided Engineering software and technology, as well as Computer Aided Design
technology (or CAD) has become an indispensable tool for engineers in the industry, as
well as for engineers of passion in their own projects. These computer applications allow
for people to visualize designs, concepts, and mechanisms in a very straight forward,
quite direct way. It’s able to be viewed right there on the computer in three dimensions
via the application. This not only gives a machine-like precision in measurements that
humans could previously only hope to reach with years of professional practice, but it
also allows us to optimize these designs and builds with a very high level of efficiency.
Before continuing, I’ve touched on both CAD and CAE, but the essay is intended to
describe CAE so I will make sure to specify my knowledge on the difference. Where CAD
is able to render models in two and three dimensions, CAE is the actual “meat and
potatoes” behind what’s happening in engineering. The calculations for the equations
that explain the actual physical behavior of what's happening. These calculations that
would otherwise leave room for human error, such as incorrect force member
calculations (stress) in a truss or frame, are now ultra-precise thanks to CAE. CAE allows
engineers, or any scientist in general, to reach a level of precision and accuracy in
measurements and calculations and overall understanding of the physics and science
behind these engineering mechanics and properties that wasn’t possible before

The example I’ll touch on is the application of nanotechnology, more specifically
nanorobotics. The idea of a nanorobot consists of exactly that, a very functional yet small
robot. This wasn’t possible before as the measurements needed to create such a robot
(nanoscale being in the order of of a unit) required a level 10 of precision that was −9
essentially inaccessible before CAE or computers in general. This is now entirely
possible, and already being worked on. Why is this important? Robots in general exist as
an extension of ourselves, created by ourselves, to optimize the work output we can
actually achieve. Gigafactories use robots for assembly, my campus has food delivering
rovers (though these are hardly efficient), and robots are sent to explore and recover
information and resources from places humans couldn't otherwise go unless they were
made of super durable metal. Now, touching on that last point, humans can never be
nanosized. There’s an entire world we cant know or understand that exists at a
nanoscale/ microscale/ very small scale. Nanorobots could venture into this realm.
Speaking now only in terms of practicality, these robots could be for example sent into
the human body without causing much disturbance. These could explore the properties
of diseases, infections, at a scale that wasn’t possible before in our wildest dreams. The
big one, they could potentially be used to kill/cure cancer cells in the body. That’s a very
bold claim, but the possibilities are there.

An entry from the National Library of Medicine titled “Integrated computer-aided
engineering and design for DNA assemblies” goes in detail on the importance of CAE for
future ventures into this field. To paraphrase, the nanorobots we use today are largely
composed of biomaterial, or DNA, structured geometrically which allows them to operate
and move. The current design is restricted in its functionality, and the use of CAE
through the authors’ “intuitive framework'' (that’s to say, the way the applications are set
into and run by the robot) would allow for these nanobots to operate at a much more
useful level, being able to do things like respond to force stimuli more accurately and
give us more in-depth feedback as to what it’s experiencing: in terms of forces,
temperature, pressure, and displacement of these. By integrating CAE into these robots,
we open up a new world of possibilities, we expand on our ability to observe and analyze
bodily functions at the nanoscale. This would have seemed like science fiction not long

Just like with nanotechnology and the potential for super developed CAE integrated bio
nanorobots, CAE is and can be used in a myriad of ways across the field. It is an
indispensable tool for us, allowing us to gather and process information at a rate which
we can’t even fully comprehend if not only by trying to put it into practice. The use of
computers and CAE allow us to expand upon our actual abilities, and the combination of
human innovation and reason with computer super-intelligence has the potential to
change the world into something we could only imagine. As a final note, this sort of
power of course comes with repercussions. Just because we can do things, doesn’t always
mean we should. This new technology must be used responsibly, the same we discovered
and developed it, we must use it carefully and with rational criteria founded in solid
moral ethics. There is no program for this, this is uniquely human.

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