This Week in CFD

MSC Software Seeks CFD Engineer

MSC Software's Xflow

MSC Software is looking to hire an Application Engineer with deep experience in FEA and/or CFD. Candidates must enjoy working closely with prospects to uncover needs and customers to solve problems.  MSC prefers a U.S. person based in Connecticut but is open to canidates anywhere in the Northeast U.S.  “This is your opportunity to break free from the drudgery of cublicleville… and be a part of the renaissance of a CAE titan.”

Siemens PLM Software Released Femap Version 10.3

Femap 10.3, image from Siemens

Femap is the finite element pre- and post-processor from Siemens PLM Software. The v10.3 release  includes automatic solid model preparation of the CAD geometry, updated support for NX Nastran, and improvements to aeroelastic problem setup.

View 3D Models on iOS and Android with Glovius

Geometric has released their 3D model viewing application, Glovius, for Apple iPhones and iPads and Android devices.  The apps are available for free for a limited time according to Geometric’s blog. Viewing models with Glovius is a 2-step process. You first use to convert your STEP/IGES/STL/etc. file to their optimized format which you download and view on your device.

3D PDF Consortium

The 3D PDF Consortium has been formed to assure the development and adoption of the 3D PDF format as an open standard for “visualization, collaboration, data exchange, and long-term archiving and retrieval of engineering data.”  Founding members include Adobe, Anark, Aras, EOS, I-Cubed, Lattice, ProSTEP, Tech Soft 3D, and Tetra 4D.


  • Marussia Racing (formerly Virgin Racing) blames poor all-CFD aerodynamics for car’s poor on-track performance.
  • Siemens PLM blogs about the value of CAE in motorsports: Part 1, Part 2
  • NVIDIA released version 4.1 of the CUDA Toolkit for parallel programming on GPUs.
  • Cervelo, maker of high performance racing bikes, will keynote CD-adapco‘s inaugural  STAR Global Conference.
  • Boston University will be offering its CFD course online for free via the Piazza collaborative learning environment.
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5 Responses to This Week in CFD

  1. Well I hope Marussia (Virgin) Racing wasn’t surprised about the outcome! The ground of quantitatively unreliable/challenging CFD predictions has been covered by many others.

    There was an interesting cartoon on the wall of the Vice President of the aerodynamics consulting company I use to work for. A big strong majestic eagle, representing CFD, is swooping down on a small mouse. The little mouse is calmly standing there watching the eagle fly towards it, and is giving the finger to the eagle. And there is a look of fear in the face of the eagle. Underneath the mouse are written the words “turbulence modeling.”

    OK, I don’t know anything about Marussia/Virgin analysis, design, and/or their issues. So I can not comment about it. But why do people think CFD and aerodynamics is so easy and/or accurate? This stuff is very non-linear, and it continuously blows me away.

  2. John Chawner says:


    If I recall correctly, part of the motivation for Virgin Racing to go all-CFD was a ruling by the governing Formula 1 body that limited the amount of time and effort you could spend on design including wind tunnels. You have to admire them for taking the leap to a CFD exclusive design. During their debut season they had several DNFs (did not finish) – it turns out their fuel tank was too small because it was designed after the outer mold lines had frozen. This and other incidents led one motorsports journalist to call CFD a “complete ******* disaster.” I’ve been unable to forget that comment.

    Certainly CFD and testing should be applied as part of a concerted effort toward design. They’re complementary.

    At least that mouse wasn’t labelled “mesh generation.”

  3. But that’s the thing, CFD is not a disaster. It is a great tool when used knowledgeably. I wish the journalist would have said “quantitative aerodynamics is **** challenging.” I am not saying qualitative is easy, just quantitative is an order of magnitude past qualitative.

    What I do admire is knowledge. If Virgin Racing understood CFD and aerodynamics, then yes, may hat is off to them. If they didn’t, then that is a different story. In many ways, aerodynamic prediction is similar to an extreme sport. I don’t think a formula one team would put an inexperienced driver behind the wheel of one of their cars, so lets hope they didn’t do the same for the CFD code.

    The company I worked for, Nielsen Engineering and Research (NEAR), is credited with doing the aerodynamics for the first all numerical methods (CFD and other codes) launch vehicle, Oribtal Sciences’ Pegasus. WT was not used because of schedule. Of course the people at NEAR, and just as important the people they knew, are extreme aerodynamic pros. At that point, NEAR had decades of missile aerodynamics experience. And the Pegasus was successful. Then the length of the launch vehicle was extended, which resulted in the Pegasus XL. The first launch of XL failed. Knowledgeable people knew about the demons. Just, well, we unknowingly got to close and were bitten. So to speak. That’s just how it goes. Welcome to aerodynamics! Oh, and these are my statements and mine alone and may or may not reflect the position of NEAR, OSC, Pointwise, NASA, or anyone else. Hmmm, let’s see if I get a phone call…

    This is not to say CFD is bad, heavens no! It is a VERY important part of the aerodynamicist’s tool chest. And so is the WT.

    Unfortunately, many of the aerodynamic uncertainties that existed back then still exist today. Just, well, CFD is accessible to more people due to increased CPU performance and these people may be, to some degree, not knowledgeable about CFD uncertainties or the wackiness of aerodynamics.

    So the lesson I think people should take away from this is that, yes, CFD is a great tool but if you are going to use it for quantitative results, make sure you know that you are doing. If you don’t know what you are doing, I’m almost 100% sure you will get bit by the aerodynamic demons. Rest assured that if hard core aerodynamics experts such as Boeing, Lockheed, OSC, NASA, DoD, NEAR, AMI, etc. can have “oops” moments, so can you.

  4. John Chawner says:

    Martin, we’ve kinda circled back around to the idea of best or worst practices again, haven’t we? Knowing what you know and what you don’t. Another contributing factor is likely the fact that in Formula 1 the differences between the best and worst cars may be extremely small and determined by performance on the edges of the envelope. So their experience with their car might be similar to what you cite about the Pegasus XL above – just one small step too far. (I think we are both saying the same thing.)

  5. Yes, and well put!

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