The Connector Newsletter for 2017 Q1

The 2017 1st quarter issue of our The Connector newsletter is now available on our website at This issue features articles on


Posted in Applications, Events, News, Software, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

This Week in CFD

Applications and Events

  • CFD investigation of the flowfield in a swimmer’s wake. (Registration required.)
  • The 2nd OpenFOAM French Users Meeting will be held on 21-22 March 2017 at the ISAT Engineering School. [Please pardon any factual errors due to my poor translation of the French language.]
  • Boom Technology is using CFD as part of their effort to bring back supersonic transoceanic air travel.
  • Keynote speakers from Boeing, Porsche, and more were announced for this summer’s NAFEMS World Congress.
  • The Call for Papers is now open for this September’s International Meshing Roundtable in Barcelona. Full papers are due 30 May.

Increased combustion accuracy is coming in STAR-CCM+ v12.02. Be certain to watch the video at the link. Also read the article because if a kid thinks it’s real fire, it’s real fire. [Just like if a kid says you’re fat, you’re fat.] Image from Siemens PLM.


  • Tecplot’s SZL server, available in Tecplot 360 2017, provides remote data access via a client-server architecture. Learn more from the video at the link.
  • Pointwise’s Glyph server, recently released as part of Pointwise V18.0 R2, provides the ability to use virtually any scripting language (e.g. Python, Perl) to execute Glyph commands via a client-server architecture. There’s a Glyph server webcast scheduled for 22 February.

Reduce fuel consumption by 11% using plasma? Read all about it from Symscape.

News and More News

  • Jacobs in Hunstville seeks to hire a CFD engineer.
  • Inside HPC shares this video and slide deck on the topic of exascale computing using Fortran. [I recall 30 years ago being told that while we didn’t know what programming languages would look like 30 years in the future, we did know that they’d be called Fortran.]
  • Digital Engineering’s article on Engineering the Software User Experience is a worthy read. In it they discuss four UI themes which I quote directly here:
    • make the model the menu;
    • reduce the initial barriers to entry;
    • progressive disclosure; and
    • customization is always an option.
  • NVIDIA reported revenue of US$2.17 billion in the calendar quarter ending January 2017. Statements in the article about their financial performance indicates in AI and related applications. Nothing about CFD or CAE.
    • But there is something about CFD in DEVELOP3D’s article about NVIDIA’s new double precision Quadro GP100.
  • Envenio interviewed Resolved Analytics’ Stewart Bible about CFD, cloud computing, optimization, and more.
  • [I only recently discovered] CrunchYard, a cloud service provider targeting CFD.

“Computational modeling will become a very important part of the personalization of medicine.” Hear this and more in a fascinating look at Dassault Systemes’ Living Heart Project. Image from Dassault Systems. 



In what probably should be my CFD application of the week, this screen shot is from a McDonald’s video showing their use of CFD to design the STRAW, an advanced straw for suctioning up their new chocolate shamrock shake. As first seen on Engadget. One month later and I would’ve chalked this up as April Fools fodder. At least they’re not taking themselves too seriously.

More Reticulation

Painter Kyle Sorenson focuses on “representing urban and metropolitan spaces through various forms of geometric abstraction.” The painting shown below caught my eye because it has been painted on birch wood creating just enough tension between the organic and inorganic.


Kyle Sorenson, Reticulation, 2013. Image from artist’s website. See link above.

Bonus: We talk a lot about topology in mesh generation. So I found the video Who (else) cares about topology? quite interesting. You may too. However, this clock composed of a triangular array of 15 circles is beyond my comprehension.

P.S. No This Week in CFD next week because it’s time to visit the mouse again.

Posted in Applications, Events, Hardware, News, Software, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Survey Results: Best 3-D Pan, Zoom, & Rotate

We asked “Which software product has the most intuitive 3-D pan, zoom, and rotate tools, in your opinion.?” The results are in and you like SOLIDWORKS the best.


This highly unscientific poll (can you say “sample bias”?) yielded some interesting commentary too.

  • The best is “whatever I am used to.” This respondent must be a very practical person. And they also help prove the adage “Only a poor musician blames his instrument.”
  • 3D Connexion.” This wise user knows that a two-handed approach to 3-D software often works the best: traditional mouse for clicking in the GUI and a 3-D mouse from 3D Connexion for all the panning, zooming, and rotating of the 3-D model. This user probably also knows that Pointwise has supported 3D Connexions’ products for many years (see our supported hardware web page).
  • Make it configurable.” I agree, but this will be a case of do what I say not what I do. We hope to eventually make the 3-D controls fully user-configurable, but for now you have a handful of preference settings for mouse and keyboard controls.
  • Rotate.” I’m sorry, Sir, but this was not a popularity contest. (But I too probably would’ve chosen rotate over pan and zoom as my favorite.)
  • Minecraft.” I suppose I could log all my gaming time to “research.”
  • I think the default in Pointwise is pretty terrible.” And this, Madam, is why we ran the survey.

Thank you to everyone who responded.

Would you like to try the meshing software that tied for 2nd place for most intuitive pan, zoom, and rotate tools? Start your no-obligation evaluation of Pointwise today.



Posted in News, Software, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

This Week in CFD


  • There are some very cool charting and graphing features coming in STAR-CCM+ v12. What they call Chart Highlighting includes hover effects, leader lines, multi-series editing, and more.
  • Tecplot’s SZL technology (for smaller files and faster performance) has been integrated into NASA’s FUN3D solver.
  • Esteco launched Volta, their enterprise product for access, sharing and reuse of simulation data in a multi-disciplinary environment.
  • I just recently learned about Aither CFD, an open source, multi-block, structured grid RANS solver.

Column gas density from the “world’s highest resolution [10,048**3] simulation of turbulence ever done.” Image Federrath et al. Click here for paper.



Screen capture of a video on RealFlow’s website showing an example of their fluid simulation work – in this case a TV ad for Disney’s World of Color show. See link below. [Was there any doubt this is the example I’d use here?]


  • TFAWS 2017 (Thermal & Fluids Analysis Workshop) will be held 21-25 August in Hunstville.
  • The 3rd Gmsh Workshop will be held 29-31 March in Lanzarote. [Being a geography-challenged American I had to research Lanzarote to discover it’s the eastern-most Canary Island and is nicknamed the “island of eternal spring.”]
  • Website for the 12th OpenFOAM Workshop is now up.
  • A video of Dr. Peter Vincent’s presentation, Toward the Industrial Adoption of GPU Accelerated CFD, from last year’s GPU Technology Conference is now online. [Full disclosure: Pointwise is mentioned.]

Screen capture from a video discussing the application of CFD to surfboard design. Read the article (which links to video).



Thermal simulation of an integrated circuit die. Image from Mentor Graphics. See link above.

A CFDer’s Artist

Art doesn’t get more directly applicable to CFD than this. Mark J. Stock’s work “explores the tension between the natural world and its simulated counterpart.”

In particular, his video work entitled Smoke Fire Water (see image and link below) hits very close to home for me. In the artist’s own words: “Virtual fluids are nothing of the sort. To define a virtual fluid in 0s and 1s requires an underlying data structure (as does defining anything digitally). When stripped of all normal visual context, a fluid reveals this (computational) structure. These are the building blocks upon which virtual simulations of reality are based.”

I highly recommend you explore the artist’s website.


Mark J. Stock, Smoke Water Fire, 2008. This is a screen capture of the video. MUST WATCH.

Bonus: The photo below is neither a simulation nor an experiment. Fluid Porcelain is just what it sounds like: a porcelain bowl designed and produced by Aylin Bilgic [sorry about the lack of diacriticals] to have the appearance of a fluid. I can’t imagine this being shipped to a buyer and arriving in one piece but if any one of you decides to make a purchase, send me a photo when you receive it.


Fluid Porcelain by Aylin Bilgic. Image from Behance. See link above.

Posted in Applications, Events, Hardware, News, Software, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pointwise User Group Meeting Showcases Pointwise V18

From the 2016 Q4 issue of The Connector:

badge-ugm-125x125Attendees at the Pointwise User Group Meeting 2016 were the first people to get hands-on training with the new Pointwise V18. In addition, they saw technical presentations on applications, scripting, higher-order meshing and future development plans. (more)

Posted in Events, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

This Week in CFD

All About MSC

  • The big news in the CAE business this week is MSC Software’s acquisition by Hexagon AB for US$834 million. MSC is one of the most storied names in the CAE business making its future very significant for the industry.
    • From MSC Software themselves.
    • Monica Schnitger thinks “it’s a perfect match.”  She also reports from MSC that “No change to MSC’s current product roadmap are planned.”
    • From DEVELOP3D: MSC helps Hexagon achieve their “smart connected factory vision in discrete manufacturing industries such as automotive and aerospace”

Software & Meshes

  • ANSYS 18 was launched and includes ANSYS CFD Enterprise which itself includes all CFD solvers, several specialized solvers, geometry, meshing, and optimization. (See image below.)
  • Some thoughts from SIMULIA on democratization of simulation.
  • ANSYS also weighs in on democratization in including 5 tips for choosing the right CFD software. #3 Are numerous training materials available live and online?
  • SimScale shares news about recent updates including a mesh quality report.
  • The EnSight blog features an article on mesh quality [one of my favorite topics].
  • If you want to learn more about Femap, here’s a collection of Femap basic videos.
  • Very cool [but very brief] article from 3D Systems about 3D scanning the Apollo F-1 engine. [Click the link just to see the pictures.]

Screen capture from a video illustration of harmonic CFD analysis now available in ANSYS 18. See link above.

Applications & Events


Optimized spillway design as simulated in FLOW-3D. Image from Flow Science. [Another beautiful CFD image.]


STAR-CCM+ simulation of blood flow. Image from a Siemens PLM article on use of simulation in medical clinical trials. [I fell in love with this image the moment I saw it.]

Order from Chaos (via Oaths)

From the title of her work shown below (Before After Oaths Gray 4), I can only assume that Marjorie Welish has generated meshes. Because when I get a mesh like the right half of her painting there are a lot of oaths uttered before I can get it into the form on the left.


Marjorie Welish, Before After Oaths Gray 4, 2013

As originally seen on Art News, this painting is from the artist’s exhibition at ART 3 Gallery in Brooklyn. I urge my friends in the NYC area to visit before the exhibition closes on 05 February. Failing that, explore the artist’s website to see these works, her Mondrian-esque paintings, and more.

Bonus: Pointwise is now on Instagram.

Posted in Applications, Events, News, Software, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I’m Mike Park and This Is How I Mesh

Mike Park, Research Scientist, Computational AeroSciences Branch, NASA Langley Research Center.

Mike Park, Research Scientist, Computational AeroSciences Branch, NASA Langley Research Center.

I grew up in New Jersey where may father was always fixing something in his workshop and I was very lucky that my parents supported the many hobbies I was interested in. I spent a number of summers working on my Aunt and Uncle’s farm in Minnesota. They are another set of parents that instilled hard work and an interest in all things mechanical. My father was a pilot for Trans World Airlines, which allowed us to visit many European cities growing up. After high school, I was drawn to the University of Southern California (USC) where my dad’s career and my interest in model airplanes piqued my interest in aerospace engineering. Through USC’s Co-op office, I interned at NASA Dryden (now Armstrong) Flight Research Center. I had semesters in the Aerodynamic, Control, and Propulsion branches. Being at a small center exposed me to a breadth of topics because everyone was wearing many hats. It was so exciting to work around airplanes such as the F-18, SR-71, and F-16XL. Wind tunnel testing, computational fluid dynamics (CFD), and simulation turned into watching flight tests from the control room. Pursing an internship is the best advice I have to share with students.

I loved the work at Dryden, but I didn’t see a future for myself living in the desert. I moved across coasts to George Washington University and NASA Langley Joint Institute for the Advancement of Flight Sciences. My master’s thesis applied automatic differentiation to CFD codes for computing stability and control derivatives. I developed a passion for research and conference publications to the point of being a detriment to my grades. The program was a unique opportunity to have NASA engineers as professors, which lent itself to very practical classes where current research was brought into the classroom.

I started in my current position in 2000. An early task was implementing adjoint-based error estimation and grid adaptation in 3D, which is still ongoing work today. An effort to combine the physical models found in the structured grid CFD codes LAURA and VULCAN into the unstructured grid CFD code FUN3D  laid the foundation for today’s FUN3D capabilities. This involved a shift to develop code as a team, where previously it was one or two people. This exposed me to version control, automated testing, and other aspects of agile programming methods. I’m still striving to improve how I develop code as an individual and how to effectively foster the success of teams.

My career at NASA has included many opportunities. NASA supported my pursuit of a Ph.D. at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in CFD. I developed a cut-cell finite volume technique for adaptive tetrahedral grids for my dissertation. Like all education, the most important lesson I gained was how to attack challenging problems. CFD for near field sonic boom prediction became an important application for grid adaptation. This grew into my involvement organizing the AIAA Sonic Boom Workshops and Low Boom Flight Demonstration Quiet Supersonic Transport (QueSST) X-plane. During my career I have been invited to be a guest scientist at German Aerospace Center (DLR) and visited a number of U.S. aerospace companies. My current focus is on fostering collaboration with international researchers to advance unstructured grid adaptation for aerospace modeling.

  • Location: NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA, USA
  • Current position: Research Scientist, Computational AeroSciences Branch
  • Current computer: 13” mid-2012 MacBook Air, 16-core Linux desktop with dual monitors and keyboards for pair programming, NASA Langley mid-range computing cluster, and agency high performance computing resource, Pleiades
  • One word that best describes how you work: Test

How do you know Pointwise?

I really enjoy the “This Week in CFD” blog series. I often run CFD on meshes partially or entirely made in Pointwise by others, but I have only performed rudimentary tasks myself.

What do you see are the biggest challenges facing CFD in the next 5 years?

Maintaining and improving automation and time to solution is the biggest challenge we face. The change underway in computer architectures will cause current codes, if not modified, to run slower on new computers. The increase in grid size of individual simulations and increase in the number of members of simulation ensembles exploit weakness in current nonlinear solvers, which disrupts automation when solvers fail to reach convergence. Currently, the time to create a grid is longer than the time to actually solve on it. This trend will worsen without embracing concurrency and automation in geometry access and grid generation. The CFD Vision 2030 Study (NASA/CR-2014-218178) does a great job of illustrating these issues. I was the first author on a paper focusing on the status and outlook of grid adaptation in the context of the study, Unstructured Grid Adaptation: Status, Potential Impacts, and Recommended Investments Towards CFD 2030 (AIAA-2016-3323). This paper includes 5, 10, and 15 year forecasts and a discussion of the critical steps of diffusing new technology into the hands of practitioners.

What are you currently working on?

I don’t say no to things as often as I should, so I often end up working on too many things at one time.

I’m working to address barriers to routine use of grid adaptation. This includes improvements to the adaptive grid mechanics and error estimation in FUN3D. These efforts would be of limited utility without transferring grid adaptation technology to users by improving the grid adaptation process documentation and ease of use based on user feedback. I recently added exact linear transport to FUN3D with Joe Derlaga and Sriram Rallabhandi (AIAA-2017-0076). We hope to make this a painless addition to any CFD solution. Error transport is synergistic with grid adaptation and can help fill the void left by the reluctance of CFD practitioners to perform uniform grid refinement studies.

I’m compiling the summary and statistical analysis of the Second AIAA Sonic Boom Workshop, which is a great exposure to psychoacoustics and the use of statistics to quantify the variation in an ensemble of solutions. The QueSST project is very busy right now. I spend effort on continued care and feeding of FUN3D for application support and bi-annual releases. I also mentor students in official and informal capacities.

What project are you most proud of and why?

I’m proud of FUN3D, which has grown to become a very widely used code at NASA, U.S. industry, and academia. FUN3D exposed me to many experts throughout NASA and in the U.S. and I am always surprised by the applications that users share. These include ground vehicles, rotorcraft, distributed electric propulsion, subsonic transports, supersonic transports, launch vehicles, and atmospheric reentry. I find the time accurate simulations very mesmerizing (e.g., Rotorcraft, F-18XL hybrid RANS LES, and launch abort).

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

I recently read Spalart and Venkatakrishnan, “On the role and challenges of CFD in the aerospace industry”. I have experienced multiple steady solutions in CFD myself in the AIAA Drag and High Lift Prediction Workshops. I think this will become a more common occurrence as CFD resolution is increased and difficult cases near the edges of the flight envelope are pursued. Error estimation techniques used for grid adaptation and error transport would be interesting to study in situations where multiple converged steady solutions occur. The authors’ complimentary view of RANS and LES methods is very pragmatic. Grid adaptation schemes under development should consider what is necessary to support this physical modeling approach.

The Google re:Work blog article “The five keys to a successful Google team” has been eye opening. Looking into topics that they identified (psychological safety, dependability, structure & clarity, meaning of work, and impact of work) has changed my understanding of what is working well and what can be improved in my group projects.

What software or tools do you use every day?

I prefer terminal and shell scripting on Linux and Mac OS X over graphical interfaces. I prefer to edit with Emacs, and I can use vi well enough for quick edits or pair programing with others. I use a number of C and Fortran compilers. Fortran compilers are particularly buggy, so having more than one helps to isolate compiler bugs from coding errors. I run everything I can through Valgrind. It is impossible to overstate how many times it has found issues that would be very difficult to identify with other methods. I use LaTeX for writing and BibTeX for organizing my references. Git is my preference for version control. I maintain every project, paper, and talk in a Git repository. I use FUN3D for CFD applications, which I typically visualize with Tecplot. I use services like Gitlab, Jenkins, and Slack for team projects. Automated testing of FUN3D (Gitlab+Jenkins+BASH) is critical to assuring correctness and enabling rapid development.  I prefer applications that are available on both Linux and Mac OS X, i.e., Thunderbird for email and Chrome for the web.

What does your workspace look like?


I have my desktop setup for pair programming. It is a very effective way to spread knowledge throughout a team. I also use it to on-board new team members and students. My Mac usually sits idle unless I need to edit Word or PowerPoint. I also telework from home about one day a week using the Mac. Telework is great to focus on reading, writing, and individual software development tasks.

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

I attended AIAA SciTech and I’m planning on attending the AIAA Aviation conference in June. I helped organize the AIAA Sonic Boom Workshop the weekend before SciTech and will be giving a summary of the nearfield CFD submissions at AIAA Aviation. I’m attending the Acoustics ’17 Boston joint meeting of the Acoustical Society of America and the European Acoustics Association for the first time. I’ll be giving an overview of the progress made during the workshops and I’m looking forward to gaining a deeper exposure to acoustics.

What do you do outside the world of CFD?

I’m about to become a new father. My wife and I are looking forward to the joy our son will bring to our lives. We don’t know what to expect other than life is certainly going to change.

I grew up sailing and was into racing sailboats in collage. I have assumed most positions on a number of different boats. I’m the tactician on the J30 that I have crewed on for the last decade. I love combing observations of the winds, tide, and competition to plan the best route forward. We work well as group and discuss how different scenarios would work out. I also use how confident I am in the situation to choose how big a risk to take. When situations are unclear, I position us conservatively in the fleet of boats racing to minimize our exposure to risk. When I see a clear advantage in the tide or a wind shift, I will aggressively take advantage of it to gain on our opponents.

I also enjoy multiple forms of cycling. I compete on occasion including mountain biking, cyclocross, and triathlons. I have never exceled, but these events provide motivation for training where the real benefit of fitness is realized. I enjoy the sights on long rides and have done six of the Register’s Annual Great Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI). It is also a great opportunity to see my extended family in the mid-west. Every day is a new adventure with 10,000 riders camping and leapfrogging across the state during the week of riding.

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

Always question CFD simulations with flow separation on a smooth body. My officemate, Pieter Bunning (primary author of OVERFLOW), reminds me of the persistent challenges for CFD accuracy—grid and turbulence modeling.

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

Crackers and Pacifica. They both offer small tapas-style plates and great drinks. I love bringing new people and trying new dishes. Order a few plates and share, which is great for conversation.


Posted in People & Places | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments