Albany International Research Co
777 West St, Mansfield, MA 02048
Last year I had the opportunity to participate in this workshop for the first time. In fact it was not only the first time that I or anyone else from my company had participated, it was, I believe, the first time that any of us had even heard of the concept so we were truly uninitiated in the rituals. We were fairly confident that we had a problem (the hydrodynamics of a high speed roll press) that would stand up to the assault team, since we and a wide range of other workers had attacked parts of it over a span of several decades and the progress was not particularly impressive. We were much less confident that the workshop methodology would be conducive to a satisfactory solution, but in fact it turned out to be an excellent way to make progress.
My own training is as a physicist, and my physics is based on intuition rather than on mathematical rigor, so I was certainly stretched intellectually many times during the course of the week, but it was an amazing experience to see high level mathematical analysis being carried out on the run. We were quite fortunate that several of the professional participants had a great deal of experience with flow in porous media, so they were able to move very quickly to the heart of the problem, and to resolve some of the issues that had been blocking our progress. At the end of a hard week most of the outstanding issues had been resolved, and the extensive general solution had been reduced to a number of quite tractable special cases, with a numerical solution completed for a typical roll press configuration. The week was a definite success both for me personally and for my company, and we will certainly be willing to repeat the experience as time and suitable problems present themselves.