PZFlex Opens Student Innovation Competition to Universities Worldwide

The PZFlex group of U.S. engineering firm Weidlinger Associates®, Inc., based in Mountain View, California, is accepting submissions for its Second Annual PZFlex® Student Innovation Competition. Students are invited to submit a proposal for investigation of a technology using PZFlex®, Weidlinger’s 3D virtual prototyping simulation software package. The competition is intended to inspire novel uses for PZFlex® in solving complex engineering problems. The winner will receive a personal Dell laptop computer, while the student’s academic institution will receive a year’s free license of PZFlex with which to conduct his or her research.

Entry forms can be downloaded here, and terms and conditions for this competition can be found here. The deadline for submissions is Monday, January 31, 2011.

Proposals should be no longer than two pages (one page of text and one of supporting material) and addressed to support@pzflex.com with “PZFlex Student Innovation Competition” in the subject line.

PhD candidate Andrew Dawson, a student at the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, was the winner of the 2009 competition. Dawson’s paper, “Anisotropic Microstructured Poly (Vinyl Alcohol) Tissue-Mimicking Phantoms,” was published in the July 2010 issue of IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control. It explored the influence of irregularities in aluminum on high-frequency ultrasound wave propagation.

Dawson’s goal was to understand the analogous influence of collagen macrobundles and other microstructures of tissue, which is usually treated as homogeneous. Dawson favored using PZFlex® for 3D modeling because “it includes mechanisms enabling microstructures of a less regular nature through to an essentially random nature to be easily created and used.” He anticipates “potential benefits for both NDT and medical imaging.”

The inaugural competition, which concluded in June 2009, was open only to students attending academic institutions that were PZFlex customers. This year, to ensure a pool of the most diverse and gifted researchers and university faculty, Weidlinger is broadening its search to include students attending any college or university worldwide that is working with technologies supported by PZFlex. The topic of the proposed investigation is completely open and at the student’s discretion, although it will most likely be in a field where PZFlex is currently used, such as non-destructive testing (NDT), micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS), sonar, sensor design, or acoustics.

In addition to gleaning entries from a much larger set of potential applicants, this year’s competition will launch at the start of the school year (fall semester), rather than in the spring, as it did in 2009.

The winner will have one year to complete the investigation, and the PZFlex staff will then assist the student in submitting the final report for publication in a technical journal.

PZFlex® is the registered trademark of virtual prototyping software first in world markets for medical therapeutics and sonar. It is the program of choice for all major US and Japanese medical transducer manufacturers, as well as for scientists at prominent academic institutions engaged in studies of diagnostic and therapeutic medical ultrasound. Developed in the 1980s to improve the modeling of ultrasonic probes, PZFlex® quickly became the most versatile member of a family of codes (FLEX) used to solve huge wave-propagation problems for the US government. During the past two decades of intensive development, PZFlex® has spawned numerous applications and attracted increasing numbers of clients.

Weidlinger Associates®, Inc., is a 325-person structural engineering firm that designs and rehabilitates buildings, bridges, and infrastructure and provides special services in applied science, forensics, and physical security. The firm, which celebrated its 60th year in 2009, is recognized worldwide for its innovative and practical design solutions and for its long-term commitment to advancing the state of the art in engineering. Headquartered in New York City, the firm has branch offices in the United States and the United Kingdom.