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60 seconds with...Mark Price, Queen’s University Belfast

Institution News Team

Mark provides a sneak preview of his presentation at this year's Simulation and Modelling conference, which will discuss a recent EPSRC-funded project that leverages AI and artificial evolution algorithms to enhance engineering design and optimisation processes.

For full details of the conference and to book your place, please visit the event website at

Please briefly explain your role, involvement, and experience with simulation and modelling

Mark Price (MP): I began my career as a stress engineer in the aerospace industry when simulation and modelling tools where still in their infancy compared to today. Linear static simulations were predominant and CAD tools still focused on creation of 2D drawings. I then undertook a PhD in finite element mesh generation for 3D models where my understanding of simulation and its role in supporting design and manufacturing decisions really developed. A particular challenge was in getting the most appropriate representation of a design in the simulation environment to enable design decisions to be made with more confidence. This led me to a research career which initially focused on using simulation to understand the implications of manufacturing processes on the design of aerospace structures and how these simulations and processes can be validated. My latest journey is bringing much of this experience to bear on re-thinking engineering design and how we can generate concepts rapidly where both the product and its associated manufacturing system (including its supply chain) are designed concurrently and fully tailored to each other.

What is the top challenge facing your industry at present?

MP: There are a number of challenges facing us driven by the complex economic, social and political events of recent years. Different companies depending on their market, their size, their technological focus and so on have very different needs in this domain. These challenges range from computational complexity through data management and scale to user experience. For me the major driver that overlays all this is the drive to Net Zero and existential challenge this places upon us as a society. To reach Net Zero by 2050 we need a radical re-think of how we undertake engineering design so we can design the radical new solutions needed. Our current approach has remained linear and reductive, and although simulation has made significant advances the design systems using these now need re-thought to take advantage of the many new technologies available in simulation, high performance computing and the availability of factory data.

How would you say your industry has evolved over the past five years?

MP: In thinking about the wider manufacturing industry and how we design and manufacture complex engineered products and systems I see really significant step changes in a number of areas. The continual increase in computational power and cloud-based capabilities has helped to democratise access to high end capability opening opportunity for all companies to avail of speed and ability to explore more possible solutions. The advancement of exciting tools like topology optimisers, although not a panacea, have shown how manufacturing technologies like additive manufacturing can be exploited bringing innovation faster and impressive weight reductions in components. The potential here is very exciting. I also think that, thanks to the ever-evolving gaming industry, the latest generation of virtual and augmented reality tools are bringing new opportunities to both explore designs and to understand them better. The potential here for engaging creative humans in design work by providing all the simulations for them can help us have many more brilliant people focused on solving Net Zero.

What developments are going on in your industry that may have an impact on the development of future approaches to the use of modelling?

MP: The continual drive to integrate tools & systems will allow a richer data set to be visible to the decision maker in design and even more importantly data tailored to their needs whether it be technical performance related, or business organisation related. For me another critical development is that on the drive for certification by analysis and the increasing awareness of how we certify and regulate products and systems. These critical aspects are often the blocker to rapid innovation and are rarely considered nor are their implications fully understood at the design stages. Using simulation to help identify what needs testing and validation and what are the critical system attributes or functions that are impacted by certification needs will be a major step forward in simulation and design. And of course, the recent explosion of interest in AI and the emergence of really capable AI tools opens new vistas for simulation and design. This is going to radically change what we simulate, when it is simulated and how the data is used to improve the design. It is really, really exciting.

What will you be presenting at the ‘Simulation and Modelling’ seminar and how will this benefit participants?

MP: I’ll be presenting the latest results from our exciting programme Re-Imagining Engineering Design (RIED) funded by EPSRC. RIED is developing radical new design processes using combinations of AI and artificial evolution algorithms underpinned by sophisticated simulation and geometric reasoning tools. One major result from RIED is that we can now use offline simulations to speed design exploration. We have the concept of a ‘cyber-seed’ that contains all the information needed to generate a design. In creating the cyber-seed we can do many simulations and explore the design space widely. Once created the seed can be used to generate an almost instant design. We have seen speed up of more than 50,000 times saving hugely in modelling and simulation time & expense.

For participants, I hope they will be able to see potential ways to reduce interoperability issues in modelling and potential applications of AI technology to reduce computational expense in their work with significant speed up from concept to manufacture.

Which other speakers and presentations are you looking forward to hearing at the forthcoming seminar?

MP: There are a number of really interesting talks in the seminar, but if I plump for one it would be the Certification by Analysis (Day 2 14:40). I think this is a key element in the way forward toward Net Zero and am really keen to hear what is happening in this space.

Why is it important for engineers and industry to come together at this event and share best practice?

MP: The simulation field is moving very fast, faster than ever, and the external environment equally so. Events like this are much needed in the engineering community so we can hear what is going on and to learn from each other, bringing new ideas, new challenges and new opportunities. There may be many paths to Net Zero and we have a role to play in leading the way. This event is a great opportunity to network, build ideas and find partners and technology that can help us together to find the fastest pathway to Net Zero.

The Simulation and Modelling 2023 conference will return on 12-13 September 2023 to the MTC in Coventry.

To expand to meet the needs of delegates, the Simulation and Modelling conference 2023 will explore areas relating to AI and machine learning, simulation and sustainability, digital twinning and regulation and standardisation.

Presenting organisations include Jaguar Land Rover, The Alan Turing Institute, Polestar, Digilab, Frazer-Nash Consultancy, HBK UK, Airbus, Red Engineering, JCB, BSI, Williams Advanced Engineering and many more.

For full details of the conference and to book your place, please visit the event website at


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