To explore how game-changing companies are meeting the challenges of the pandemic and rethinking their approaches to product development, Onshape recently teamed up with SiliconANGLE and theCUBE for a series of panel discussions focused on “Innovation for Good.”

The conversations included insights from:

  • Rafael Gómez-Sjöberg, Director of Bioengineering at Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, a critical R&D center developing new technologies that lead to actionable diagnostics and effective therapies for diseases and other world health problems.

  • Philip Taber, Vice President of Hardware Engineering for Silverside Detectors, developers of next-generation nuclear radiation detectors for homeland security.

Both Gómez-Sjöberg and Taber shared candid overviews of how using cloud-based collaboration tools and a SaaS-based CAD and data management platform impacts their engineering team’s day-to-day operations. Let’s look at a few highlights.

Chan Zuckerberg BioHub

Founded in 2016 by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, the Chan Zuckerberg initiative was launched with the “bold vision to cure, prevent or manage disease in our children’s lifetime.” Based in the Bay Area, the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub is an R&D center partnering with Stanford University, the University of California-Berkeley, and the University of California-San Francisco.

“We have some projects that are about creating very low-cost instruments for low-resource settings in places like Africa, Southeast Asia and South America,” said Gómez-Sjöberg, “so that they can still do biomedical research without the fancy lab machines that cost $30,000 and up. So we're trying to democratize some of those instruments. And thanks to tools like Onshape, it's easier to have a conversation with a partner in Africa and show them the design that we have and discuss the details.” 

“That's amazing, right? To have somebody a few time zones away looking at your designs in real time or teaching them how to build a machine,” he added. “Because if they have a 3D printer, you can just give them the design and say, ‘You can build it yourself even cheaper.’" 

“What's best about Onshape is that it allows us to do things that we couldn't do before, or that we couldn't do easily. Now we can access our CAD documents from anywhere in the world. So when we're in the lab fabricating something or testing a machine, we can use any computer, tablet, or an iPhone to check things or make changes. That's something that we couldn't do before because before you had to pay for every installation of the software for every computer,” Gómez-Sjöberg said.

“And the collaboration features are fantastic, especially now with COVID that we have to have all the remote meetings. It's fantastic that you can have another person drive the CAD while the whole team is watching that person change the model and do things and point to things. That is absolutely revolutionary.” 

Silverside Detectors

Funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Silverside Detectors’ mission is to develop more affordable neutron detection systems to safeguard borders, domestic ports and other potential targets from radiation or nuclear threats.

Or summarized more succinctly on Silverside’s website is a bumper sticker company mantra: “We love neutrons, detecting neutrons, and making sure neutrons are not where they shouldn’t be.”

The company is also researching the use of its neutron detection technology for detecting water. Possible applications may include measuring the snowpack in the mountains to measuring the moisture content in soil for agriculture.

“Onshape helps us to track and collaborate faster on our designs. We have a very modular product line, and make everything from detectors that could go into backpacks or vehicles to very large things that a shipping container would go through,” Taber said.

“If somebody else comes to us and says, ‘Hey, I want something new,’ Onshape helps us figure out how we can grab modules from things that we already have, put them together, and then keep track of the design development and the different branches and ideas that we have. It helps us (better envision) how they all fit together as the design comes together. It's just been fantastic,” he added.

“In the middle of the pandemic, Silverside moved to a new manufacturing facility. I was just on the shop floor talking with contractors standing six feet apart pointing at things, but through it all our CAD system was completely unruffled,” Taber said. “Nothing stopped in our development work. Nothing stopped in our support for existing systems in the field. We didn't have to think about it. We had other server issues, but none with our engineering CAD platform. Our product development just rolled right ahead.”

Watch the Full “Innovation for Good” Presentations

In other panel discussions, Onshape co-founders Jon Hirschtick and John McEleney reflect on the one-year anniversary of the PTC acquisition and how it has empowered Onshape to help more companies accelerate product innovation and create game-changing products, ranging from emergency prosthetic horse hooves to robots that repair potholes in real time to medical devices and supplies critical for helping people during the pandemic.

To see the full “Innovation for Good” panel discussions presented by PTC and SiliconANGLE, watch the video below: