SIMULIA Community News

October 2015: The Journey from Solve to Innovate

SIMULIA Spotlight: Frans Peeters

When Frans Peeters, SIMULIA’s vice president for Europe, announced his retirement during his 2015 SCC keynote speech this spring in Berlin, he received a lengthy standing ovation. It was well-deserved after 21 years with a company that grew from Hibbitt, Karlsson & Sorensen (HKS) to ABAQUS to SIMULIA as part of the Dassault Systèmes family. After Frans’ presentation, he sat down with us to discuss the highlights of his career and his plans for the future.

Why did you join HKS?
PEETERS: Over the years I started appreciating the value of quality. I first worked with David Hibbitt at another company, and when I later joined him at HKS it felt like coming home. I saw how this company and these people were devoted to providing complete solutions to the market, in the sense that people could take advantage of the technology but also could rely on the quality of the products and methods around it. In that sense I was inspired by David and the rest of team, to see how they positioned themselves in the market early on.

How have you seen SIMULIA technology evolve over the years?
PEETERS: Originally the technology was used to get some insight in a qualitative manner, but of course it was sometimes not very good prediction in the early days due to the size and limits of the hardware and the technology itself. But around the 1990s there were new developments of specific workflows responding to the needs of particular industries. We tried to provide complete, in-depth solutions and they were well-received by our customers.

About ten years ago we moved to assembly analysis. For me the eye-opener at the time was that for very complicated structures, like cars or even airplanes, we could do the most advanced nonlinear analysis in a very predictive manner. In contrast to what we saw 20 years ago you finally have reached the point where this technology can be used to predict real behavior. This is important, as there are cases where you cannot do physical testing and have to rely on virtual tests.

Tell us a bit about the value of the SCC.
PEETERS: As our software advanced, very soon there was the perception that meeting with users to share knowledge was a very important aspect of deploying this technology. HKS started the first Abaqus Users Conference in Oxford, England in 1988. After joining the company in 1994 I’ve attended every one of the worldwide conferences we hold, alternating between Europe and the U.S. I even organized several of them myself in the early days, arranging the hotels and doing all the behind-the-scenes work!

Now the SCC is a very large, professional, successful event. But we still follow the core format of the early days, updating our users on new functionality and then having them share how they’ve benefitted from our technology and accomplished major things.

So what’s next in your life?
PEETERS: I’ve been kind of a workaholic, so I’m looking forward to more personal travel with my wife. I’m also lucky to have some very nice grandchildren now, and it’s really fun to spend time with them and watch them grow up.

Would you recommend that your grandchildren become engineers?
PEETERS: Well, both my kids are engineers and yet, as my wife says as a joke, “I have three engineers in the family and I still have to repair the bikes myself!” But of course there’s nothing wrong with engineering!

I’ve been very privileged to be in this field and to serve the industry and the individuals who’ve kept me going. I’m pleased to have interacted with so many interesting people and have been able to contribute to advancements in the technology.