The Queen’s Award for Innovation, along with other Queen’s awards, is granted every year on the Queen’s birthday. It is a celebration of the best that the United Kingdom’s citizens, engineers, and minds has to offer.

This year the award for innovation was granted to Simpleware from Exeter. This great honour was bestowed upon Simpleware for the software that it created that converts 3-dimensional images into computer models, which can then be used for engineering purposes.

The application of such a program is quite readily understood when one begins to accept that the world around us isn’t limited to two dimensions, which is often the limitations of designs created on paper or in traditional models. Also, three dimensional images, be it through physical models, for example, can be converted for use on the computer, allowing engineers to work through the designs more effectively as well as relying on simulation to determine the strengths and potential weaknesses of designs before they are constructed.

Working with a three dimensional model allows engineers to focus on more than mere mathematical constructs and equations. It allows them to visualize more efficiently how the designs will not only mesh with the surrounding environment, but also how to address potential flaws and weaknesses. It also allows these same engineers to display their designs for the general public to see and understand in a more effective manner.

One may think that this 3-D modelling software may be limited only to architects and city planners, however the founder of Simpleware, Professor Philippe Young, from the University of Exeter, indicates that his company, which originally began trading in 2007, has a variety of clients, from the petrochemical industry to NASA. There are virtually no limits for who can benefit from this manner of software innovation.

While no innovative firm sets out to win awards or to make a name for himself or herself, recognition does pay dividends in the end. Not only does the Queen’s Award for innovation offer a bona fide reward for people working tirelessly to achieve a dream, it also helps to highlight the advantages of that creation to a wider audience.

For years television and film has highlighted the benefits of three dimensional image, though much of this was through science fiction.  Bringing it into reality, in a usable software program, Simpleware has set the stage for a brand new age of engineering and design.

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