Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Monday, July 22, 2024

Detroit is More than Just Cars 

<img style="float: left;" src="" alt="" width="63" height="49" />Rick Darter, President and CEO of Rave Computer, Sterling Heights, Mich., discusses how advanced digital manufacturing capabilities can be brought to manufacturers in Michigan. He cites the highly successful efforts in Central Florida to develop a solid base of modeling, simulation, and training expertise.

For over 20 years, RAVE Computer has been in the market of “purpose built computers,” packaging and optimizing computers to meet specific requirements.  Based in Sterling Heights, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, we sell to both commercial defense sectors. RAVE partners with Microsoft, Intel, NVIDIA, Oracle, Supermicro, AMD and others to provide the latest technologies  to its customer base, reaching all across the U.S., and has expertise in providing solutions related to CPU and graphics intense applications including reconnaissance surveillance, modeling, simulation and training.

Until 2008, 98 percent of RAVE Computer’s business was outside of the state of Michigan. We focused on markets where we were best able to find the above types of activities. With a passion for our home state and confidence in its future, we set a company-wide goal to grow our Michigan customer base. To this end, we made it a priority to learn about business needs in the region.  We were able to quickly identify a large and growing market of Modeling, Simulation and Visualization activity right here in our backyard.

Florida – Hub of Modeling, Simulation and Visualization

RAVE does a significant portion of its business in or as a result of activities originating from Orlando, Florida – Orlando is considered the nation’s epicenter for Modeling, Simulation and Training. The Florida High Tech Corridor also boasts the highest concentration of simulation and training related activities in the nation.

Some years ago, Walt Disney World and the Kennedy Space Flight Center approached the University of Central Florida with a proposal. Both institutions were facing an employment challenge – they had positions to fill, but could not find the workforce with the required skills to fill these opportunities. They approached the University of Central Florida in order to assist in developing degreed programs and curricula to meet the growing need for specifically tooled knowledge capital. 

As a result, a multidisciplinary graduate program leading to a master’s and doctoral degree in modeling and simulation is available to students of engineering, computer science, digital media, mathematics, psychology and other related disciplines. This creates the talent pool that industry needs in the area of modeling and simulation.

Not surprisingly, the success of this program and growing pool of skills incubated and attracted new business to the region. Today, Department of Defense activities related to Simulation and Training are primarily located in the area, and with it, numerous government contractors.

Creating the Florida Climate in Michigan

Central Florida has a wealth of activities centered around and/or supporting Modeling, Simulation and Training – The Institute for Simulation and Training, the Florida High Tech Corridor and the Army’s National Simulation Center, to name a few. However, we could not make the same case for business in Michigan. We easily found over 100 companies with strong investments in Modeling, Simulation and Visualization/Digital Manufacturing, but these efforts were siloed. In addition, we discovered a large and growing number of job openings for positions related to digital manufacturing.

Developing a cadre of trained professionals for Michigan manufacturers from which to draw is of the utmost importance. To be successful in this endeavor, we need to promote modeling and simulation technology expansion, education, and business development in the State to support government, industry, and academic communities. We need to develop curriculum in our schools that will prepare students for these high tech, high paying jobs in industry and in government.

It is my belief, as a business owner in Michigan, that digital manufacturing activities have enormous potential for the State. We need a coordinated effort to fully realize the potential for job creation and wealth generation.