COFES 2016: The Move to Co-Evolution

The design of physical things has evolved greatly over many generations. From early origins of design by craftsmen and artisans, to carefully considered design and engineering on drafting boards, we have progressed today to building realistic and predictive models to explore with sophisticated software tools. But WHAT we are designing has changed. Much of the innovation and differentiation that drives product development today occurs in the domain of software and content. And that must influence the development of the physical and electronic design. We need a new generation of tools that understand and support simultaneous symbiotic development of the physical, electronic, logical, and content aspects of our products: Tools that support co-evolution of design. 

For the past 16 years, COFES has been that place on the calendar that we set aside to lift our heads from the daily grind and consider our work in a broader context. This year, COFES explores the nature of the tools we will need as we reimagine design in the context of the 21st century. We’ve created great tools for the design of physical products and electronics, and decent tools for the design of software. What we haven’t done is even conceive of the tools we need for co-evolution of complex things. That’s what we will explore at COFES 2016.


The domain of COFES is the realm of software for design and engineering.

Our customers are those that create the world around us. They design the roads and bridges, the buildings we live and work in, the things we use and see around us.

The place to impact all of this is at the planning, design, and engineering stage. It’s where the leverage is. Our customers have the leverage to change the world.

The COFES community provides the tools to these people who have that leverage.

We’ve been able to absorb much change in the past. But today, with increased population, increased infrastructure, and increased global interdependencies, we have lost much of our flexibility to absorb such change without hardship. The reasons for this are understandable and to be expected. With our larger population we have less room to maneuver and have significant investments in infrastructure – all a result of unconstrained growth without concern for long-term consequences.

What’s worse, we may be having an impact that is resulting in such change coming more quickly – within a lifetime rather than over generations.

Change will come. And it’s not just whether that we have to adjust to. Changes will be painful to many – deadly to some; others will reap unexpected windfalls. The balance will shift.

What can we do about it? We can choose not to ignore it. We can think about longer term implications of our decisions and have longer term horizons for our planning. 

We provide the tools to the people who have the leverage to implement change. We can help them  innovate better. 

At COFES, we ask “What can we do to make our customers more effective innovators?”

It’s not just about sharing best practices -- the bigger question is "How can we innovate in the development of better practices?”

Let's meet face-to-face and discuss these critical issues. We're all in this together.