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Two years ago, I watched a documentary about “Minimalism.” There were compelling reasons in the documentary to no longer own so many things. People were talking on camera about how it made them feel free, how it gave them back focus, how they decluttered their whole life, along with the stuff they gave up on. Some people claimed the feeling of getting rid of stuff was even better than buying new stuff.

So, the same evening I decided I would become a minimalist. And really, making that decision was rather easy.

Cleaning out my closet

The next day, highly motivated, I started with my closet. Oh well, I thought, I wore this T-Shirt in 1998 at this party, can’t dump that one, and that one, it was a classic during university times, no way, it reminds me of this and that. That one, no, I bought it on my road trip in the US. After an hour, there was a stack of T-Shirts, all of which I had to keep for one or the other reasons. It wasn’t easy. Way more difficult than I thought.

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Then I recalled that guy on the documentary that said the memories would be there either way, whether you own that object or not, the object is just a trigger, but even without owning it, your memory will be there.

It didn’t make it easier for me now.

To dump or not to dump

In the documentary, the simple advice to cope with this difficult “to dump or not to dump” question was to take a thing you own, look at it and then seriously ask yourself:

Does owning this thing make my life any better? Does this object truly serve a purpose to make my life easier, more joyful, more efficient, or – in all honesty – does it actually only hinder me, block my way, get me defocused from the things that really matter in life?

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What I really loved: the series wasn’t a call to get rid of everything, though. It was not a call for an ascetic life. It was not radical; it was a reasonable approach to the idea of owning less. It was about a mindful adjustment of things you really NEED and those you really DON’T NEED for making a better living.

For the moment, I put the stack of T-Shirts on hold.

Adding my two pens

Let’s try somewhere else first, I thought. Pencils. For ages, I struggled to find a working pen when I wanted to take a quick note. Don’t get me wrong, I owned dozens of pens, but none really worked. However, usually, I tried one after the other until I found one that worked. And by that time, I had thrown the broken ones back to where I picked them up from. To repeat the story the next time, I needed a pencil.

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But not this time. I made a bold move. I decided I would go from now on my own: one fountain pen and one lead pencil. All the rest would go away. And I would not own those cheap ones you picked up at every booth at the last convention (we all need to collect those at conventions – they are for free) – no, I wanted serious high-quality pieces that I loved.

The art of traveling light

Meanwhile, not owning so many (or big) things has become a worldwide trend. There are magazines about Minimalism. (Semi)professional coaches offer their service to simplify your life. Tiny houses have become a thing. Scandinavian minimalistic interior designs have become en-vogue. And not just since yesterday has backpackers optimized the concept of less is more.

It has ever since been called “the art of traveling light.”

GettyImages 531441781 1536x1024 1 Silhouette of a jumping businessman wearing a bowler hat and carrying a suitcase at sunset in vast open space.

But this is private life. This is philosophic crap; I hear some of you say.

I am an engineer; why would I care?

The capitalistic minimalism

There is another side of the concept, that despite all the esoteric appeal of minimalism – is very capitalistic. There is a very rational argument for not owning too many things: being economically efficient. Car sharing has become a popular business model for that reason. Electric city scooters are all over the place (literally). There are online platforms for neighborhoods to share tools or garden equipment. Subscription-based or leasing models of whatever product have become the norm rather than the exception.

Companies, it’s time to declutter!

And ultimately, not owning things meanwhile is an industry trend as well. Why? It was not because companies suddenly became a philosophic bunch (like I am) who wanted to declutter their lives. But because there is serious economic reasoning behind not owning stuff.  And one huge thing across all industries is the trend to not owning IT stuff anymore.

The big buzzwords in today’s economy that subsumes all this are “cloud” and – in various tastes – WaaS (Whatsoever as a Service).

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“Cloud” means nothing but not owning the IT infrastructure anymore. Cloud means decluttering your IT systems. Cloud means outsourcing hardware that hinders your focus on your actual business. Cloud means you only pay what you need. Add SaaS (Software as a service) or a subscription-based licensing model, and you have become a proper minimalist in the IT world. For us, engineers cloud and SaaS means minimalism in the arts of computer-aided engineering.

But we’ve been doing it with our own cluster for decades. We have it under control here. Never change a working system, I hear you say. And what about security? Well, you can continue to think that way. But let me tell you another short story first.

To die or not to die…

For a long time, I have been a big fan of another TV series: Man vs. Wild.

In case you never heard of it, every episode of the series goes like this: Bear Grylls, ex-special air service regiment trooper and survival instructor is dropped-off alone in some of the toughest and roughest wilderness environments and has to fight his way back into civilization with the things he wears, carries along and finds in nature along the trip. On his way out of the wild, he eats weird animals, drinks disgusting stuff, runs through a forest fire, climbs cliffs, and – not for the faint-hearted – wraps his urine-soaked T-shirt around his head in the desert and uses the corpse of a sheep as a sleeping bag.

Why on earth!? You might wonder.

Well, to survive.

And why on earth do you tell me this? you ask…

Well, here comes my actual point: What do Bear grills – a human-machine trained to survive even in the roughest climates and conditions, able to move on all terrains, ready to take any challenge the environment poses to him – carry along in all these adventures?

A small backpack including a knife, a fire-stone, some rope, a bottlfreshwaterwater, and sometimes a sleeping bag (not in the episode with the sheep, though).

GettyImages 1156470896 1536x1024 1 Outdoor travel equipment planning for a mountain trekking camping trip on wooden background. To view – vintage film grain filter effect styles

Surviving in the Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE) business

Now, I understand Man vs. Wild was an entertainment show, a constructed scenario with the camera team around Bear during his adventures, etc. There was a script for what was gonna happen for many instances; some stunts were probably practiced and shot a few times. And yet – Bear Grylls is not an actor in the first place. When it comes to explaining how to survive in the wild, he knows what he’s talking about; he’s for real. And he teaches us one thing: If you are in a tough environment, minimalism is not a philosophic esoteric trend of the over-saturated 21st-century hipsters. Carry along too much stuff, and you will end up running out of energy halfway of the trip, don’t carry along the right stuff, and you’ll find yourself sleeping in a sheep or freeze to death. In other words

Minimalism is a concept that decides about life and death in a rough environment.

And guess what, in the CAE business, that’s no different.

The art of engineering light – cloud-based Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD)

At Siemens Digital Industries Software, we have understood the need of engineering companies to travel light. Therefore, we are on a clear mission to serve our customers with computer-aided engineering solutions on the cloud and flexible subscription-based licensing models that go along with that. We understand the wild out there, and we’ll help you pack your bag to survive.

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We are proud to have achieved Amazon Web Services (AWS) High-Performance Computing Competency status with our multiphysics CFD software Simcenter STAR-CCM+. This designation recognizes that Siemens has demonstrated deep experience in helping customers optimize their HPC workloads for performance and efficiency using AWS’s elastic and scalable cloud infrastructure.

This is your future. This is the art of engineering light. This is cloud-based CFD.

And this is where today meets tomorrow as some of our customers prove as they already leverage Simcenter STAR-CCM+ on AWS:

TLG Aerospace deploys Simecenter STAR-CCM+ on AWS for faster, cost-effective certification by simulation-based analysis.
Amazon Prime Air developed a working drone design by running simulations using Siemens’ Simcenter STAR-CCM+ with high-performance computing on Amazon Web Services.
One Aviation carries out CFD simulations on AWS in improving the aerodynamic performance of the next generation of super-light business jet.
Ineos leverages cloud-based Simcenter STAR-CCM+ simulation to increase their throughput by 20 times,  accelerating America’s Cup racing boat’s development.

And if that’s not enough, even more, good reasons to run CFD simulations on the cloud can be found here and here.

Minimalism is a process. But you have to start somewhere.

I.n the meantime, I have not become a proper minimalist, admittedly. I learned that it’s a process and a mindset, and the rest follows bit by bit. But I was indeed able to get rid of many clothes; I rather only have a set of high-quality garments that I am really in love with. I could name those to you item by item. I own a beautiful wooden pencil and another ink-writer of high quality. I throw away non-working pens if they come along my way.

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But admittedly, somewhere in the closet, there is this hidden stack of T-Shirts I wore on my wildest days. And admittedly, I will not give away my sleeping bag by any means.

Disclaimer: I am the author at PLM ECOSYSTEM, focusing on developing digital-thread platforms with capabilities across CAD, CAM, CAE, PLM, ERP, and IT systems to manage the product data lifecycle and connect various industry networks. My opinions may be biased. Articles and thoughts on PLMES represent solely the author's views and not necessarily those of the company. Reviews and mentions do not imply endorsement or recommendations for purchase.

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