A lot of work goes into producing a technically accurate and realistic 3D design for our Troubleshooting Industrial Sensors simulation training software. To learn more about the artistic side of the development process, we sat down with Kevin Knechtel, the creative director, to walk us through it. 

Could you please introduce yourself?

My name is Kevin Knechtel.

Could you please tell me a bit about yourself?

I’ve been with Simutech since its inception back in 1995. I’ve been working with Warren Rhude (CFO and founder) on and off over these years, stationed in Port Elgin here.

Where did you go to school and what for?

I have an interesting background actually. It’s a little bit of a different background. After high school I actually got hired on as an apprentice electrician and I went through the apprenticeship and received my maintenance electrician papers. From there I worked for a utility for 23 years. I also had my own graphic design business for about ten years there as well.

What is your role here at Simutech?

My official title is “creative director,” and I’m involved quite a bit with overseeing the whole visual aspect of our programs as well as the development. I’m probably half-and-half. Half my time is split between development and also the visuals for the programs.

What do you do on that development side?

Basically, we start with developing a module by kind of conceiving really what the customer wants and what the customer needs in view of troubleshooting. From there we come up with a scenario for the main simulation and start to develop that. It is quite complex; it sounds simple, but it’s quite a complex process to blend the interface with all the features we need as well as make sure the simulation does everything we need it to do as it would do in real life. It is quite a process.

What is the first step in the product design process?

As I mentioned, the very first step is deciding really what the customer needs when we are starting on a new module, what the customer needs are for that. But the first step is really designing the main simulation that we are going to use and it has to satisfy a whole bunch of different needs as according to what type of process we are trying to illustrate, all the features that that process may have, and all the things that the user may be troubleshooting within the simulation. So, the first step is really imagining the simulation.

Would you be able to walk me through that design process for how you design faults and blueprints and things like that?

Once we’ve got the simulation designed and finalized, it’s kind of a two-part process because with that simulation comes all the electrical design behind that. We have to actually design the print exactly to match what the simulation is doing as well. The print has to be perfect. So, we go through a system where you create the initial print and that gets checked by numerous people and finalized. Then the simulation, same thing. It goes through all kinds of checks to make sure it’s going to do all that we want it to do and that it performs all the features that need to be happening when a user goes through it as well.

So, who do you work with directly in the company?

I work with development most of the time. But I also work with the art side as well.

Could you tell me a little bit more about that art side?

We’ve recently gone into 3D in all of our simulations, so that’s really exciting. I have to spec out all the artwork for the simulation and for all the components and that sort of thing, sizes, textures, all that. So, it is quite a process as well to create all the 3D modules that are involved in our simulations now. I’m also involved with creating the overall scene inside and outside the simulation.

Any last thoughts; any last words?

We’re super excited to be stepping into the 3D world with our simulations. It’s just going to create so much more realism with our user and make the experience so much better with the user as well. I’m really excited where we are going and I’m excited to produce more modules.

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