The Fire Information and Rescue Equipment (FIRE) project is a collaborative effort between UC Berkeley and the Chicago Fire Department. It is supported in part by the Ford Motor Company and CITRIS, the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society. Evolving from the 9/11 tragedy where 350 firefighters perished, the FIRE project has produced three new systems: the FireEye head-mounted display, the SmokeNet wireless network of sensors, and the eICS electronic incident command system (which better communicates firefighter status to commanders). Students are using SolidWorks 3D CAD software to design these systems to be lightweight, rugged, and dependable.
"Firefighters need to know as much as possible about a building when they go in, often in zero visibility," said Chicago Fire Commissioner Cortez Trotter. "Now they will be able to see instantly where they are, what obstacles lie ahead, and where to find people in trouble. It's all about saving lives."
Remote sensors previously installed throughout the building will transmit floor plan information to the microdisplays so firefighters can see where to go to find potential victims. Wristbands will monitor firefighter heart rates and other vital statistics so commanders know every team member's status.
Visualizing a solution
SolidWorks' intuitive interface helped students like Joel Wilson, the team leader, brainstorm where to place the microdisplay in the mask and troubleshoot other design challenges. "The mask's interior is an unusual shape to design in, particularly when trying to find a good spot for a six-millimeter diagonal screen that won't block a firefighter's view," said Wilson, a fourth-year mechanical engineering doctoral candidate. "SolidWorks allowed us to see in three dimensions where we had the correct clearances for the most strategic location to put the display. Trying to do that in AutoCAD(R) software would have been much harder."
SolidWorks streamlines the design-to-prototype process by helping students easily spot and fix errors such as part interference, and injection molding problems such as overcuts, air pockets, and surface anomalies. Ensuring design accuracy before prototyping begins saves time and reduces costs. Interviewing more than 50 firefighters and soliciting feedback on designs means students must constantly revise their work. SolidWorks' associativity automates changes throughout a design, eliminating errors and giving students the freedom to try several concepts before arriving at the best solution.
The project is still in development, and the UC Berkeley team hopes to have an updated working prototype in Chicago this spring, with a goal of having several units in operation within a year. "This kind of practical learning teaches students real-world engineering that in this case, could save lives," said Paul Wright, professor of mechanical engineering at UC Berkeley. "SolidWorks' ease of use lets them immerse themselves in the project so they can focus on the design, not the software."
For more information on the FIRE project, listen to the podcast at http://www.solidworks.com/mediapodcast. UC Berkeley relies on authorized SolidWorks reseller GoEngineer for ongoing software training, implementation, and support.
About the University of California, Berkeley
The Berkeley Manufacturing Institute creates tools and methods for high-tech product design, prototyping, and rapid manufacturing. Outstanding facilities have been created on the Berkeley campus with grants and gifts from a wide range of sponsors that include: The National Science Foundation, Ford Motor Company, Intel, the California Energy Commission, Honeywell, and the Chicago Fire Department. To learn more, please visit http://bmi.berkeley.edu/.
GoEngineer, Inc. is a unique business partner for companies that design, engineer, and manufacture products, helping customers enhance business processes and realize competitive advantage through their software investment. GoEngineer is a leading reseller of SolidWorks product design software. Tech support staff with real-world expertise in design, engineering, and manufacturing ensures that customers' businesses are productive, efficient, and competitive. GoEngineer has partnered with more than 4,000 customers in the Western U.S., having sold more than 10,000 commercial licenses and 5,000 education licenses at high schools and colleges. For more information, visit the company Web site at ( www.goengineer.com) or call 1-800-688-3234.
About SolidWorks Corporation
SolidWorks Corporation, a Dassault Systemes S.A. (Nasdaq: DASTY, Euronext Paris: #13065, DSY.PA) company, develops and markets software for design, analysis, and product data management. It is the leading supplier of CAD software, helping hundreds of thousands of users speed next-generation products to market around the world. With SolidWorks software, designers excel at their jobs and make their companies more successful by bringing designs to life. For the latest news, information, or an online demonstration, visit the company's Web site ( www.solidworks.com) or call 1-800-693-9000 (outside of North America, call +1-978-371-5000).
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