This Week in CFD

Software

  • Siemens PLM Software released Solid Edge ST8.
  • Materialise released 3-maticSTL v10.0.
  • Beta CAE released ANSA v15.3.0.
  • CD-adapco released DARS v2.1 0D and 1D management of chemical reactions. [What I found most curious about this announcement is that my web browser’s URL bar shows a copyright registration symbol in the web page’s URL. I had no idea you could do that.]
The winner of 2015's Science as Art contest. Try to figure out what this image shows before clicking through to the article. Image from Int'l Science Grid This Week.

The winner of 2015’s Science as Art contest. Try to figure out what this image shows before clicking through to the article. Image from Int’l Science Grid This Week. [Yes, this should probably be placed below in the section on Awards.]

Miscellaneous

  • “Why Multi-Core CPUs are Useless for CAD” [Because I often draw analogies between CAD and meshing (because the latter is more like the former than it is a CFD solver, for example) and because I think multi-core CPUs are useful for meshing, I disagree a little with this statement. OK, meshing algorithms can take a long time to run and can benefit from multi-core programming. But there are a lot of other things happening that can benefit from multi-core. Don’t you think?]
  • A senior CFD specialist in building services is being sought in Hong Kong.
  • The call for papers is now open for the COMSOL Conference 2015 (Boston, 7-9 Oct) with an early due date of 19 June and final due date of 31 July.

Fun With Bubbles

Screen capture from the video on Discrete Circulation-Preserving Vortex Sheets for Soap Films and Foams. See link below.

Screen capture from the video on Discrete Circulation-Preserving Vortex Sheets for Soap Films and Foams. See link below.

Submitted by blog reader and fluids researcher Dr. Christopher Batty comes this video on “using non-manifold triangle meshes to animate soap bubbles, films, and foams, using a method based on the equations of vortex sheets.” The work is the subject of an upcoming SIGGRAPH paper. Be certain to watch the video all the way to the end (it’s only 5 minutes) to see the bubbles popping.

Applications

The Living Heart Project created this model using SIMULIA. Image from Desktop Engineering. Click image for article.

The Living Heart Project created this model using SIMULIA. Image from Desktop Engineering. Click image for article.

  • Desktop Engineering wrote about the use of simulation for medical applications.
  • Exa tells how autonomous vehicles are effected by aerodynamics. [Note: This link was added after this post was initially published.]

Awards

  • Here’s some award-winning CFD work on cooling data centers by a PhD student at SUNY Binghampton.
  • Another CFD researcher, this one from the Shipbuilding Research Center of Japan, won the DNV GL COMPIT Award for his work in advancing the use of HPC for shipbuilding.
  • MSC’s Apex is a finalist for a Stevie Award.
  • And to round out the awarding of awards, ANSYS received a Confirmit ACE award for their customer service.

Discretization: On the Computer and IRL

Discretization is obviously a part of CFD and simulations in general. The image below is a screen capture from a video called Pixel WORLD that shows various particle-based simulations with a particle size coarse enough to give a voxel effect.

Screen capture from the video Pixel WORLD, a montage of particle simulations on a coarse, voxel scale. Click image for video.

Screen capture from the video Pixel WORLD, a montage of particle simulations on a coarse, voxel scale. Click image for video.

But discretization is appealing in real life too as illustrated in the gorgeous photo below from Lernert & Sander called Cubes in which unprocessed food has been diced into perfect 2.5 cm sided cubes.

Cubes: discretized food by Lernert & Sander. Image from Lernert & Sander. Click image for source.

Cubes: discretized food by Lernert & Sander. Image from Lernert & Sander. Click image for source.

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This Week in CFD

Software

Berkeley researchers introduced CFD and reactive transport code Chombo-Crunch. Image from LBL.gov. Click image for article.

Berkeley researchers introduced CFD and reactive transport code Chombo-Crunch. Image from LBL.gov. Click image for article.

Meshing

The T.MAP plugin for Rhino (beta release) is available from EvoluteTools. Image from evolute.at. Click image for announcement.

The T.MAP plugin for Rhino (beta release) is available from EvoluteTools. Image from evolute.at. Click image for announcement.

 CAD

  • Autodesk’s AnyCAD allows full associativity and automatic updates between other CAD systems and Inventor.
  • Desktop Engineer’s Kenneth Wong shares his thoughts on simulation appification in this video.
  • Beyond PLM compares Onshape to “Google Drive for CAD.”

Applications

  • ESI made a move into the electronics cooling market with their acquisition of PRESTO.
Lenovo used FloTHERM to simulate cooling inside their ThinkStation products. Image from Desktop Engineering. Click image for article.

Lenovo used FloTHERM to simulate cooling inside their ThinkStation products. Image from Desktop Engineering. Click image for article.

Viz

Computing

Illustration of adaptive mesh sampling from the paper Power Particles: An Incompressible Fluid Flow Solver Based On Power Diagrams by de Goes et al. Image from Cal Tech. Click image for full paper.

Illustration of adaptive mesh sampling from the paper Power Particles: An Incompressible Fluid Flow Solver Based On Power Diagrams by de Goes et al. Image from Cal Tech. Click image for full paper.

  • DEVELOP3D shares information on ANSYS Enterprise Cloud which is based on Amazon Web Services.
  • STAR-CCM+ was run on 55,000 cores while exhibiting “perfect” scalability. On a related note, read about CD-adapco’s history of supercomputing.
  • The folks at Siemens PLM Software write about CAE automation.

Events

Spray drying with CFD. Image from ChemEurope.com. Click image for article.

Spray drying with CFD. Image from ChemEurope.com. Click image for article.

A Meshed Hat

Chris Johanson, My Funny Hat, 2011. Click image for source.

Chris Johanson, My Funny Hat, 2011. Click image for source.

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s blog delves a little bit and only tangentially into a topic that I’m a bit interested in. Namely the proliferation of faceting (aka reticulation) in modern painting (i.e. triangles are trendy). As a case in point they reference the work of Chris Johanson and his imitators.

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I’m Erick Gantt and This Is How I Mesh

Erick Gantt, Engineering Specialist on the Technical Support Team.

Erick Gantt, Engineering Specialist on the Technical Support Team.

I mesh in a highly structured manner! I grew up in south Georgia, and graduated from Georgia Tech “several” years ago with a Bachelors in Aerospace Engineering, Cooperative Plan. As a Co-op at Georgia Tech I commuted to Fort Worth, TX every other quarter to work at the General Dynamics, Fort Worth Division. It was an incredible experience and opportunity as an undergrad. After finishing up at Georgia Tech I went on to North Carolina State to study hypersonics and CFD. After a few years in grad school I returned to General Dynamics full time. There I spent several years in CFD applications (see my meshing specialty below) making grids, running the in-house solver Falcon, and post-processing the results for my internal customers, mostly propulsion and aero performance guys. After acquiring several years experience using Gridgen, and developing a strong working relationship with the founders of Pointwise, an opportunity came along for me to become their first employee. Then and now, I provide support, training and documentation. I’ve worn some other hats along the way. I just celebrated 18 years at Pointwise this past January!

  • Location: Chicago, IL Burbs
  • Current position: Engineering Specialist, Technical Support
  • Current computer: Dell Precision T3600 running Win7 for daily work; Dell Precision T3610 running RHEL 6 for QA/testing
  • One word that best describes how you work: Meticulous

What software or tools do you use every day?

I use Outlook for all of my email communication with customers and co-workers. Adobe FrameMaker 12 is the tool I use for creation/editing of all of our Pointwise documentation, such as the User Manual. I also use PowerPoint for creating and delivering our training material both for our regular courses and for special events like last fall’s Pointwise UGM in Anaheim.  To satisfy my long history of vi use to edit any text files, such as Glyph scripts, I rely on gVim. There are plenty of other tools I use, but these are the regular mainstays of my work. And, of course, I’m constantly running Pointwise in support of our customers, to create new documentation, and perform consulting work when that comes along. I’ll use our current release and sometimes previous releases for support of customers, as well as our development builds for testing and documentation work.

What does your workspace look like?

Erick's current workspace.

Erick’s current workspace.

Since I work remotely I have a dedicated home office. I have a cool corner style desk with a built-in monitor shelf and CPU cubby. I have enjoyed this setup for several years. My Windows workstation is set up with dual monitors which make documentation work go so much more easily. Yes, I have an old Dell QuietKey keyboard, I love that thing, and a requisite music system attached. And as you can probably see in my picture my kids are always helping me decorate my work surroundings. I have the usual souvenirs from travel, family pictures and other typical office knick-knacks. I also have a nice portal to the outdoors, allowing me to enjoy fine views of Chicago weather and count the inches of snowfall in the winter.

What are you currently working on?

Being in support, my “currently working on” changes daily! But that’s part of what makes this job fun and always fresh. One of my primary responsibilities in our support group is to look after our international distributors. When they have questions, I’m their first line of support. I’ve had a number of interesting queries from them I have been working on the past several days. I have also been working a lot recently on training, both scheduling and delivering courses, and working on the training documentation itself. Next up? Overset material for discussion at our Let’s Talk Meshing sessions at AIAA Aviation in Dallas this June!

What would you say is your meshing specialty?

This is an easy one: multi-block, point-matched, structured grids. I have a long history with this particular type of mesh, going back to my days at Lockheed Martin where I worked on the F-16, NASP, F-22 and JSF programs. Initially the facility was the General Dynamics, Fort Worth Division. Then it was acquired by Lockheed, and then Lockheed merged with Martin Marietta. So three different companies all at the same desk. But I diverge…

Any tips for our users?

Two:

  • For new users, definitely make use of our training. If you attend a course in Fort Worth, it is free for current customers! We take you through the whole code starting with basics and finishing up with more advanced skills. So get trained!
  • Let us know when something isn’t working! Too often we will hear at a conference or meeting from a user “when are you going to fix bug xxxx?” And we reply, “well, we didn’t know about bug xxxx.” Let us know if something doesn’t seem to work right. Sometimes, it may just be the task is intended to be done with a different feature.

What project are you most proud of and why?

There are a number of things I could talk about here. But I’ll pick a couple of the most recent from two different aspects of my work. First, I have to say I have been pretty proud of our standard training course. When we first released Pointwise V16, I developed an all new course for the software that took a new approach to our training from what we previously used for Gridgen. I wanted a more interactive, project oriented approach to the material, and that’s what we have. We generally get very good feedback from our training courses. Of course, the material is constantly evolving, and like any project that’s close to you, you can always think of new things to add or improve.

My second recent project I’m proud of is a consulting project I worked on with Nick Wyman, our Director of Applied Research. Unfortunately I can’t say much about it, but it was a very complex mult-block structured grid, we turned it in on target, with the target characteristics, and well, it just looked amazing!

What CFD solver and postprocessor do you use most often?

I actually don’t use our supported solvers or a post too much. But I would say I use ANSYS Fluent most often simply to test our CAE export from time to time for customers with questions. In the past I’ve mostly run FIELDVIEW as a post processor, for the same reasons.

Are you reading any interesting technical papers we should know about?

We are doing some work on meshes for the folks involved with the Sonic Boom Prediction Workshop. I have mostly been recently reading some technical presentations shared among the workshop group, but I look forward to some papers on the topic coming this summer at AIAA Aviation. This is very interesting work impacting hopefully the next generation of air transport.

Do you plan on attending any conferences or workshops this year?

I’ll be at AIAA Aviation, as a matter of fact. We will have a cool Let’s Talk Meshing session on the Sunday prior for folks who want to hear about some of our newest features. And I will be around during the week talking to folks at our exhibit booth. Come by and see us!

What do you do when you’re not generating meshes?

Oh boy, this could be another long list… But a high priority is of course my two kids, their school and activities. I try to take care of myself, so I bicycle regularly. I’m very lucky to have some natural trails nearby that run along the Des Plaines river here in the burbs, and I bike the trails as much as I can. I also have a nice 46 gallon freshwater aquarium that I love to look after. And when I have the time, I love to read, about my hobbies, and good hard SciFi.

What is some of the best CFD advice you’ve ever received?

“Give up on thinking that you can create a grid on the geometry as it is exactly.” And I’m not talking about geometry that has gaps, overlaps, that sort of thing. I’m talking about back when I was creating mult-block structured grids daily on complex geometries. Invariably for that type of mesh, on a complex geometry, somewhere along the way you will have to modify the geometry in order to make the grid topology work. Of course when I started that work, right out of school, I thought it could be meshed exactly. I don’t do those types of grids as much these days, but that advice will always apply.

If you had to pick a place to have dinner, where would you go?

Since I work remotely, I’ll take the opportunity to pick a place at home and back in Fort Worth where our main offices are. Back in Fort Worth, I can say without a doubt, since I’m a Tex-Mex indulger, that Joe T. Garcia’s is my hands down favorite place to stop by when I’m in town. There are so many great places in Fort Worth, though, I could make a list. Here at home, a recent favorite is Lai Thai. They have some yummy curry dishes, but their Pad Thai noodles are to die for.

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This Month in CFD

Altair: Altair Technologies and FluiDyna are collaborating on GPU-accelerated CFD. On a related note, Altair will be the exclusive worldwide reseller of the nanoFluidX technology.

ANSYS: ANSYS was recognized at The Engineering Simulation Show for its quality, innovation, and financial performance as company of the year. Also, the company’s GAAP revenue for Q1 was $218 million, up 1%.

arterial disease: CFD aids in the diagnosis and risk assessment of coronary artery disease.

AutoCAD: The Engineers Guide to Drinks was created 1972 on a lark to test plotters. It found new life recently (download the DWG file here) and is now being converted to 3D.

The Engineers Guide to Drinks. Drawn in AutoCAD. Image from Between the Lines blog. See links above.

The Engineers Guide to Drinks. Drawn in AutoCAD. Image from Between the Lines blog. See links above.

Beta CAE: ANSA v15.2.4 was released.

CAD: The worldwide CAD market in 2014 was $8 billion and is expected to grow with a CAGR of 4% through 2017.

CAE Associates: Structural finite element modeling came to rescue of Adam, a marble statue by Tullio Lombardo (1460-1532), that fell and broke into 28 large pieces and an uncountable number of fragments in 2002. FEA helped assure museum curators that the repairs (pins and glue) would work while also being reversible if needed.

FEA contributed to the repair of Tullio Lombardo's Adam. Image from CAE Associates. See link above.

FEA contributed to the repair of Tullio Lombardo’s Adam. Image from CAE Associates. See link above.

Caelus: Version 5.04 of Caelus is available for download.

CD-adapco: In case you missed the event, pretend you were there with CD-adapco’s STAR Global Conference 2015 photo gallery. Or you could read Monica Schnitger’s summary of the event. In which you’ll learn what STAR stands for.

COMSOL: Comsol Multiphysics 5.1 was released.

cycling: CFD is used to design bicycling helmets.

Dalton: Project Dalton, 1D flow analysis, from Autodesk Labs remains free for a bit longer.

drilling: Los Alamos performed CFD simulations of offshore drilling rigs.

CFD simulation performed by Los Alamos to study vortex induced motion on offshore drilling rigs. Image from Int'l Science Grid This Week. See link above.

CFD simulation performed by Los Alamos to study vortex induced motion on offshore drilling rigs. Image from Int’l Science Grid This Week. See link above.

Edwin, Colin: Musician Colin Edwin (Porcupine Tree, Metallic Taste of Blood, O.R.k.) released a new digital-only EP titled Mesh. [I am a big fan of Colin’s music and am using his album’s title as an excuse to post here. It’s my blog after all.]

Mesh by Colin Edwin. Image from Colin Edwin's blog. See link above.

Mesh by Colin Edwin. Image from Colin Edwin’s blog. See link above.

EnSight: CEI asks whether 32-bit support is still wanted for EnSight beginning in 2016. Also, there’s now a data converter from EMSolution to EnSight.

ESI: The ESI Group acquired the assets of Ciespace, the cloud-based CFD provider. Ciespace will [already has?] begun integrating ESI’s software into Ciespace’s open, web-services platform. Monica Schnitger shared her thoughts on this deal.

exhaust: CFD is being used to design intake and exhaust systems for surface ships.

Flow Science: FLOW-3D News was published for Spring 2015. Also, speakers were announced for their European Users Conference.

Ford: A CFD Engineer is sought by Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn, MI.

GrabCAD: Read about multi-disciplinary 3D design.

Hex: A frontal approach to hex-dominant mesh generation by Baudouin et al.

Cutaway view of a hex-dominant mesh for a filter mount using the method by Baudouin et al. Image from Advanced Modeling and Simulation in Engineering Services. See link above.

Cutaway view of a hex-dominant mesh for a filter mount using the method by Baudouin et al. Image from Advanced Modeling and Simulation in Engineering Services. See link above.

Hi-Tech: Three ways to get value from your CFD when you use it as a precursor to prototype tests. #1 Measure things you can’t measure with a test.

Indy 500: Honda’s aero kit for their Indy car chassis was developed using CFD.

Leap CFD: A hybrid RANS-LES approach was used to model flow over terrain and an urban environment as part of a wind engineering study related to energy harvesting. [Be certain to watch the video.]

ANSYS CFD simulation of flow over an urban environment. Image from Leap CFD. See link above.

ANSYS CFD simulation of flow over an urban environment. Image from Leap CFD. See link above.

LearnCAx: CCTech launched free CFD education via their massive open online course LearnCAx.

LimitState: The latest version of LimitState:FIX is available for repairing 3D faceted geometry for 3D printing.

mantle: Princeton researchers used adjoint methods to study seismic wave propagation through the earth to map its non-uniformity.

Seismic wave speeds below the Pacific ocean. Red is slower, blue is faster. Image from International Science Grid This Week. See link above.

Seismic wave speeds below the Pacific ocean. Red is slower, blue is faster. Image from International Science Grid This Week. See link above.

Mentor Graphics: Read about calibration of electronics thermal simulation models.

MeshUp: The Kickstarter campaign for this tool for a “3D modeling mashup tool for meshes” is now in beta.

MeshUp is a Kickstarter-funded mashup tool for meshes. Image from Kickstarter. See link above.

MeshUp is a Kickstarter-funded mashup tool for meshes. Image from Kickstarter. See link above. [Do not question why you’d want to mashup the Utah teapot and the Stanford bunny.]

Nagoya: CD-adapco opened an office in Nagoya, Japan.

NASA: If you can demonstrate a 1000x speed-up of a CFD solution over FUN3D NASA may award you $500,000. [An “X-Prize” for CFD? Hell yes. [Note: X-Prize is probably someone’s trademark so forgive the usage.]] There’s a link at the site to NASA’s request for information as they try to decide whether to pull the trigger on this idea.

news: TenLinks and ENGINEERING.com have merged.

NUMECA: NUMECA‘s CFD software is being used to help Oracle Team USA prepare for the Americas Cup.

Octree: Advances in parallelization of large scale oct-tree mesh generation by O’Connell and Karman.

Onshape: Onshape beta is reviewed by DEVELOP3D.

PADT: CoresOnDemand.com, an HPC resource for ANSYS users, was launched by PAD-T. [I can’t help getting hungry for Thai food every time I see PADT come up in the news.]

PyFR: Version 0.8.0 of PyFR was released.

ReFRESCO-Operation: MARIN’s ReFRESCO-Operation is a partnership with clients for marine applications of CFD using the ReFRESCO CFD code and MARIN’s compute cluster.

SimuTech Group: ANSYS designated SimuTech Group as an Elite Channel Partner. SimuTech is said to be the largest full-service provider of ANSYS’s CAE software in North America.

SolidWorks: Here’s a checklist for running SolidWorks Flow Simulation.

SpaceX: Watch this video of a GPU-based simulation of SpaceX’s rocket engine.

Symscape: CFD for unconventional designs.

Tech Soft 3D: Tech Soft 3D announced the new HOOPS Cloud Platform and HOOPS Desktop Platform.

Tecplot: In the 4th installment of their “trillion cell challenge,” Tecplot describes their approach to the input/output bottleneck when visualizing massive computational simulations. See also their 300 billion cell results.

Performance improvement of the latest version of Tecplot versus previous versions for handling massive datasets. Image from Tecplot. See link above.

Performance improvement of the latest version of Tecplot versus previous versions for handling massive datasets. Image from Tecplot. See link above.

TotalCAE: Billing themselves as the “IT department for CFD engineers,” TotalCAE offers a number of products including a private cloud, turnkey HPC cluster with support for all popular CFD solvers.

V&V: Tony Abbey explains verification and validation for FEA in Desktop Engineering.

wind turbine: CFD simulation of a floating offshore wind turbine.

Wirth Research: F-1 designer Nick Wirth’s team used CFD to design an aerodynamic package for Scania R-series trucks that reduces drag by 10% relative to other add-on kits.

6SigmaET: Future Facilities’ CFD solver 6SigmaET was awarded Product of the Year at the Engineering Simulation Awards Show.

Stellar – Meshed – Caves

Artist Julien Salaud‘s 3D, immersive, polygonal, sculptures are made from thread that’s illuminated by UV light. The result is like walking through the craziest mesh you’ve ever generated. See more at This is Colossal.

Julien Salaud, Stellar Caves. Image from Colossal.

Julien Salaud, Stellar Caves. Image from Colossal.

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Plugin How-To – Porting an existing Plugin to a New SDK

Creating a Pointwise CAE plugin can be a little confusing. This leads to customers contacting our Support Team with a plugin development question that starts with the phrase “How do I…?” As always, our Support Team is happy to help you with anything Pointwise, including your plugin development questions!

Many of these plugin development inquiries can be simply answered by pointing the customer to the appropriate pages in the Pointwise CAE Plugin SDK documentation. However, the solutions to some inquiries are more complex and require a more in-depth explanation with code examples.

I plan to periodically post these interesting inquiries along with their answers. These posts should provide valuable insight into writing a plugin and using the Pointwise Grid Model.

This installment of Plugin How-To deals with porting an existing plugin to a new version of the SDK.

Q: How do I Port an existing Plugin to a New SDK?

This grid was generated using a plugin.

Plugin Magic

From time to time, Pointwise makes changes to the CAE Plugin SDK. As much as possible, we try to make the changes binary compatible. That is, existing plugins will continue to work with new versions of Pointwise. However, to take advantage of SDK bug fixes or new functionality, you will need to port your plugin source code to the new SDK and recompile it. While there are many ways to port a plugin, I have found the following process to be the least painful. For the purposes of this post, we will be porting a plugin for the fictitious, unstructured solver named CyclopsCFD*.

Get the New CAE Plugin SDK

Before you can port the CyclopsCFD plugin, you will need to download the new SDK, install it on your development machine, and validate the installation as outlined on the How to create a new CAE Plugin Project page of the SDK documentation. After the SDK has been validated, we can begin the port.

Create a New Plugin

The first step of the port is to create a plugin project in the new SDK. This plugin must have the same name as the existing plugin. In this case, it should be named CyclopsCFD. As always, you create a plugin using the mkplugin script.

For a C++ plugin use:

> mkplugin -uns -cpp CyclopsCFD
creating new unstructured cpp plugin 'CaeUnsCyclopsCFD' with ID=40

For a C plugin use:

> mkplugin -uns -c CyclopsCFD
creating new unstructured c plugin 'CaeUnsCyclopsCFD' with ID=40

Before proceeding, I suggest that you build the new CyclopsCFD plugin. See the SDK documentation for details. When the plugin builds successfully, we can proceed with the port.

Copy the Source

Next, you must to copy the standard .cxx and .h source files from the old SDK’s CyclopsCFD project folder to the new SDK’s CyclopsCFD project folder. The source files are be located in the …/PluginSDK/src/plugins/CaeUnsCyclopsCFD directory. The standard source files are created by the mkplugin script. If you added any custom files as part of your plugin’s implementation, you will also need to copy those files. The standard source files are listed below.

rtCaepInstanceData.h
rtCaepSupportData.h
rtCaepInitItems.h
runtimeWrite.cxx
CaeUnsCyclopsCFD.cxx (only present for -cpp C++ plugins)
CaeUnsCyclopsCFD.h (only present for -cpp C++ plugins)

Porting Custom Settings

If your plugin’s implementation uses any custom source files or links against any third party libraries, you will most likely need to manually integrate the changes you made to the build chain. Only you know the details of these changes. You are mostly on your own with this step. However, in general you will need to perform one or more of the following steps.

Under Microsoft Windows, you must configure the Visual Studio solution and CyclopsCFD project.

Under Linux and Mac OSX, you must update the modulelocal.mk file located in the …/PluginSDK/src/plugins/CaeUnsCyclopsCFD directory.

And finally, if your old SDK install used specific PWP_SITE_GROUPID or PWP_SITE_GROUPNAME values, you will need to transfer these values to the new SDK’s site.h file located in the …/PluginSDK/src/plugins directory.

All Done

At this point, the plugin port is done. It should be building successfully on all Pointwise supported platforms. It is now ready for testing. You do test new builds don’t you? Of course you do.

Your Suggestions Welcome

I hope this information is useful. If you have any other ideas for a future Plugin How-To post, please leave a comment below or contact our support staff.

Happy coding!

Find out more about the Pointwise Plugin SDK by clicking on the link below.

Learn more about the Pointwise CAE Plugin SDK

* I originally picked UnicornCFD only to find out there really is a solver by that name!
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I’m Randy Spencer and This Is How I Mesh

Randy Spencer is our employee of the month! I thought I’d catch up with our busy system administrator and learn how he works.

Randy Spencer, our System Administrator.

Randy Spencer, our System Administrator.

The best way to describe how I mesh is, not at all. I have a general idea of what a mesh is and what it is used for, but that is about it. I worked in the Marine Corps in the signals intelligence field for five years after high school. I was able to visit Kuwait, Iraq, Okinawa, Guam, and South Korea before my time was up and I came back home to attend college. I earned my A.A. degree as well as an A.A.S. in Information Security before starting at Pointwise in 2010.  While working here I have earned the A+, Linux+, and Security+ certifications from CompTIA.

  • Location: North Richland Hills
  • Current position: System Administrator / License file generator
  • Current computer: Dell Precision T3600
  • One word that best describes how you work: Eternally

What software or tools do you use every day?

I have a small set of tools that I use to take care of our systems. Cygwin is a terminal window that runs on Windows machines. I use it to access all of our Linux, Mac, and network devices so that I can update them, install software, and make configuration changes. I use Remote desktop Connection to do the same tasks on our Windows machines and a program that was written by a previous developer to create and keep track all of our license files.

What does your workspace look like?

Randy's current workspace.

Randy’s current workspace.

My workspace covers the whole office. I spend a lot of time working from my desk, but sometimes I have to walk down to the server room, a co-workers desk, or a piece of network gear in a closet. My desk is usually covered by parts waiting to be installed and sticky notes to remind me what needs to be done.

What are you currently working on?

This changes day to day, which is one of the things I like about my job. One task I am working on is rebuilding a bunch of our machines for the developers working on Pointwise V18. I am also building two new servers to act as virtual hosts so that we can continue to virtualize as many machines as possible. Then there is the day to day fixing tickets, planning for future growth, and sending out license files.

What would you say is your specialty at Pointwise?

I think keeping track of everything going on it one of the things I do best. Every machine has its own quirks and I have to keep those in mind when I am working. I may find a solution for a problem that would break something else, so I have to anticipate that. Our servers can be especially difficult because we have Windows, Mac, and multiple versions of Linux running and trying to reach them.

Any tips, tricks, or advice for our users?

The only advice I can give relates to the license server side. The biggest problem I have seen with licensing is getting the correct Host ID for the server. The Host ID is also known as the MAC address or hardware address and every network adapter has one. This means that if you have an Ethernet connection and a Wi-Fi connection you will have two Host IDs for your server. Some servers may have more than two. The correct Host ID will be the one your server uses to connect to the network with and that’s the ID we use to generate your license file.

What project are you most proud of and why?

One of the most difficult things I have done at Pointwise is migrate our network domain from LDAP to Active Directory. We decided to do the move because so many of our machines use Windows that it didn’t make much sense to continue using Linux-based authentication. It took a lot of planning, but we were able to pull it off and only had to purchase one new machine. The best analogy I have to explain it is that we had to build a new house around an older house while we were still living in it.

Have you recently read any books or articles we should know about?

Most of the reading I do is from Hot Rod and Car Craft, I subscribe to both. The best things I read are to my daughter. I think books from Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein have lessons that some adults still need to learn. I recently read her ‘Listen to the MUSTN’TS’, and I will continue to read it until it sticks.

Do you plan on attending any conferences or workshops this year?

I will be attending Spiceworld 2015 in September. No, it is not a convention for fans of the 1997 Spice Girls movie. SpiceWorld is a convention for IT pros put together by Spiceworks, a free tool used for keeping an eye on our network. It is a great place to talk to other IT professionals about any problems they’ve encountered and solved in their environment and meet with vendors giving away free t-shirts.

What do you do when you’re not surrounded by engineers making meshes?

When I am not here I can be found in the garage. I love working on cars, new and old, but mostly old. I have a 1964 Cadillac and a 1948 Chevy, which get most of my attention. I have a nagging desire to figure out how things work, which leads to taking things apart and has successfully led me to repair everything from pocket watches and vintage fans to riding mowers and weed eaters. Because of the Marine in me, I also enjoy running and doing obstacle course races. I’ve run the Fort Worth Marathon twice and improved my time by 30 minutes.

What is some of the best advice you’ve received?

There is so much advice flying around that it is hard to focus on the really good pieces. Some of the best advice I’ve received is related to the benefits of self-reliance and to not fear failure. I have learned more than I could have imagined with just a little time on the internet and a willingness to fail completely. Not being afraid to fail is a big part of becoming more self-reliant, which is one of the best things anyone can do. Spending time educating your mind or strengthening your body will pay off in ways you never could have imagined.

If you had to pick a place to have dinner, where would you go?

I really like food, so it is hard to pick a single place. King Tut is right around the corner from our office and has great chicken shawarma. Sana is a great Indian food place near my house that I don’t get to visit often enough. My favorite thing to make is a prime cut ribeye cooked to medium rare…my mouth waters just thinking about it.

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I’m Heather McCoy and This Is How I Mesh

Heather McCoy, Manager of our Sales and Marketing Programs.

Heather McCoy, Manager of our Sales and Marketing Programs.

I hate to disappoint you but I never do any meshing. The title of this piece should really be, “I’m Heather and This Is How I Help You Mesh.”

I have a degree from Trinity University in San Antonio and spent several years in various office administrator jobs in Fort Worth. I came to Pointwise in the summer of 1998 as a temporary administrative assistant. Pointwise was looking for someone to answer the phone and clean up its customer files and I needed a part-time job. I ended up spending more and more time at the office finding more projects to tackle. They finally gave up and hired me full time in January of 1999.

  • Location: Fort Worth
  • Current position: Manager, Sales and Marketing Programs
  • Current computer: Dell XPS 8500 Windows 7
  • One word that best describes how you work: Purposely

What software or tools do you use every day?

Sage CRM and MS Outlook for interacting with our customers. I generate sales quotations and invoices with QuickBooks. And, I use Asana for managing our marketing and distribution projects.

What does your workspace look like?

Heather's current workspace.

Heather’s current workspace.

I am lucky enough to have an office with a window and great big desk with plenty of room for my two computer monitors and my project files. My desk has been with me since I came to work at Pointwise 16 years ago. I also have two comfy chairs that came from my grandmother’s house. They are not pretty but I find that people will sometimes come in my office to visit just to sit in the chairs.

What are you currently working on?

I am working on a mix of things right now. I am overseeing a series of projects that will streamline some of our customer relationship management tasks. Most of these projects are invisible to our customers but they help make us more organized and efficient. I am also coordinating our 2015 Pointwise Distributors’ Meeting and all the activities surrounding it. And I am working on a customer insight project for our marketing team.

What would you say is your specialty at Pointwise?

One of the things I like to do is make Pointwise better at serving its customers and distributors. But I also want to make it easier on my colleagues to do their job effectively without hurting the timeliness or quality of the services we provide. I am always looking for ways to make everyone’s life a little easier. I am lucky to have been at Pointwise long enough that I know a little bit about a lot of things so I can see the big picture and connect the dots between customers, sales, marketing, support, and distribution.

Any tips, tricks, or advice for our users?

Participate in one of Pointwise’s training classes in our Fort Worth office, attend a Let’s Talking Meshing Workshop, or attend the Pointwise User Group Meeting in 2016. The training at these events will give you that edge you need to efficiently and effectively use Pointwise. Not only will you learn a few tips and tricks along the way, but we also get to meet you and you will experience some of our great Texas hospitality.

What project are you most proud of and why?

This is a tough one. I think the project that I am the most proud of and has had the broadest reach and the most impact was organizing the first Gridgen User Group Meeting in 2004. Before that, Pointwise had hosted small, brief Gridgen user gatherings at industry conferences. However, we had never hosted a multi-day event focusing on Gridgen and meshing topics in our hometown of Fort Worth. I had been to other CFD software user group meetings and had hosted a couple of successful Pointwise Distributor Meetings. I knew we could do it. So, I went to the Pointwise owners told them that it was time to try hosting our own user group meeting. They agreed and 11 years later, we are still hosting regular user group meetings. We changed the name in 2008 to the Pointwise User Group Meeting.

Have you recently read any books or articles we should know about?

There are two books I recently finished that are worth reading. Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken is excellent and has some great World War II aviation history. Working at Pointwise has given me an appreciation for the history of aerospace and I loved reading about what it was like to fly during the war in the Pacific arena. I also recently read, Red Hope, written by John Dreese, my colleague and a senior engineer on Pointwise’s Technical Support Team. Not only is it a compelling story but I actually understood some of the subtle engineering humor.

Do you plan on attending any conferences or workshops this year?

Since the AIAA Aviation conference is in Dallas this year, I will be there helping out with the Let’s Talk Meshing Workshop we are hosting on Sunday, 21 June. I will also be at the VINAS User Conference in October and at the European Let’s Talk Meshing Workshop we are hosting in November in Stuttgart, Germany.

What do you do when you’re not surrounded by engineers making meshes?

I love to work out. I mainly run, swim and do Pilates. Right now I am training to run the Oklahoma City Memorial Half Marathon on April 26. (You should join me. This run commemorates the Oklahoma City bombing that happened 20 years ago this month.) Running gets me outside in the fresh air and helps me decompress. Plus, I enjoy eating. I really need to run to counterbalance all the eating I do.

What is some of the best advice you’ve received?

My father was the Manager of Administrative Services at the Oklahoma City Zoo for many years and while I don’t remember any specific advice he gave me, he instilled in me the importance of hard work, being dependable and always, always providing a good customer experience no matter what.

If you had to pick a place to have dinner, where would you go?

Anyplace where Pointwise has a distributor. I love to travel and have had some really great meals while visiting our overseas partners. I have been lucky enough to visit 10 of our 14 distributors and can tell you about a memorable meal or meals I had in each country.

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