This article illustrates tests in a digital laboratory that helped engineers ensure that a critical bracket would support the plastic-molded models increasingly favored by consumers. A case in point is Coachmen Recreational Vehicle Co. of Middlebury, IN. Coachmen engineers have used finite element analysis software from Pittsburgh-based Algor Inc. to test an innovative new dashboard under loading conditions experienced by a recreational vehicle (RV) while on the road. Coachmen Recreational Vehicle Co. designs and manufactures RVs, including motorhomes, travel trailers, fifth wheels, and truck campers for sale primarily in the United States and Canada. Coachmen recently introduced its Sportscoach model motorhome, a contemporary, affordable vehicle with an aerodynamic design and more features and ergonomic considerations than any other Coachmen product. The Industrial Designers Society of America awarded its 1998 bronze Industrial Design Excellence Award in the transportation category to the Coachmen Sportscoach, which was judged on its design innovation, user benefits, ecological responsibility, aesthetics, and appeal.

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