This Week in CFD

News in Brief, Part Un

Battery simulation in STAR-CCM+. Image from EHVT magazine.

Battery simulation in STAR-CCM+. Image from EHVT magazine.

  • CD-adapco’s work on battery modeling and simulation is showcased in Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Technology, a [maddeningly difficult to navigate] online magazine. The article begins on page 97.
  • The National Institute of Aerospace has videos of their CFD lectures available online including their most recent (from 18 Dec 2012) on First, Second, and Third Order Finite-Volume Schemes for Diffusion.
  • In advance of soliciting participants for round 2 of their experiment, the organizers of The Uber-Cloud Experiment (use of HPC resources in the cloud for CAE) [keeps changing names?] published a brief summary report about round 1, Half Time in the Uber-Cloud. To summarize the summary, 160 participants formed 20 teams to essentially put various CAE, HPC, and cloud technologies to use to “distinguish between hype and reality.” Reading between the lines, progress during round 1 was limited but virtually all participants wish to proceed with round 2 which promised to be more rigorously structured.
  • Siemens PLM Software’s JT data format has been accepted as the first ISO standard (ISO IS14306) for lightweight 3D data exchange. [Is anyone in CFD using JT?]
  • Autodesk’s Project Falcon, airflow simulator, is now available in Revit. [Be sure to watch the video.]
  • Website for the 8th International OpenFOAM Workshop is now online. Abstracts for the event are due 15 March 2013.
  • ESI-OpenCFD is hosting their first “official” OpenFOAM Conference on 24-26 April 2013 in Frankfurt.
  • CD-adapco is seeking a Software Architect for their Bellevue, WA location.

CFD simulation of airflow around two buildings done with Project Falcon in Autodesk Revit.

Software Engineering in Academia

“The outlook for academic software engineering and other practical aspects of computer science therefore doesn’t look that good.”

Prof. Ian Sommerville wrote that, and other tantalizing nuggets, on his Geek Prof blog. I have an obvious interest in software engineering from the business side of things but I’m also following an on-again off-again conversation about whether engineering undergraduates (e.g. aerospace and mechanical engineers) need to learn programming as part of the curriculum.

Prof. Sommerville observes how software engineering in academia has changed over the course of his career. In the 1970s, universities were places with “liberal views, accommodated eccentricity, gave people time to think and to pursue their own interests.” Now he finds that universities are “more boring places that are driven by corporate goals and are much less welcoming to the eccentric scholars who published little but were stimulating conversationalists. Its all about outcomes, line managers and targets.”

What I find tantalizing is that I see both sides of Prof. Sommerville’s argument. Keeping in mind that I’ve never worked in academia (but have served for many years on a university advisory board) I think that tenure sounds like a pretty sweet deal for pursuing your own interests and honing your conversational skills. And I suppose that freedom comes at a price. On the other hand, universities (and a lot of U.S. government labs) have become very corporate with respect to research contracts and the licensing of research results.

It seems to be a matter of demarcation – where’s the dividing line between basic and applied research? And is that line even relevant? Should universities be confined to the basic research while leaving the applied work to industry? Certainly we’ve all seen examples of university research that’s nothing more than making a clone of some commercially available tool or system. [OK, maybe not a clone per se but simply a variation on a theme with incremental differentiations.] And wouldn’t companies be better off not having to dabble in basic research and instead be able to focus on the applied?

Or has all that protected witty banter in the faculty lounge led academia toward irrelevancy so that the only way to pay their salaries is for the administration to ride them hard for research contracts and intellectual property they can monetize? [This paragraph is designed solely to be provocative.]

And I’m not even certain that citing Google as a counter-example to academia is a good approach because, as far as software companies go, they’re way outside the norm. All that money lets them do all sorts of things the vast majority of software companies can’t afford. [The professor narrows the scope of his argument by saying that the only interesting software engineering problems anymore involve scale, something universities can’t afford to explore, hence citing Google and Amazon as counter-examples.]

This a thought provoking, but not answer illuminating, article. What do you think?

News in Brief, Part Deux

  • The HPC Advisory Council Stanford Conference on “usage models and benefits, the future of supercomputing, latest technology developments, best practices and advanced HPC topics” will be held 7-8 February 2013 at Stanford University.
  • With four semesters of work you can earn an International Master in Turbulence from three French universities working collaboratively.
  • From the Software Carpentry blog comes Lorena Barba’s Reproducibility PI Manifesto.  I like these two:
    • #2 All our research code (and writing) is under version control.
    • #6 We will release code at the time of submission of a paper.
  • Best of the visualization web for November 2012 from the Visualizing Data blog.
  • From the FDS-SMV blog…
    • FDS 6 RC2 has been released to fix a few things in RC1 and to change how species are specified.
    • FDS is rigorously verified and validated and the developers seek V&V input from their user community.
  • Optimal Solutions released Sculptor version 3.3 for geometry morphing and shape optimization.  In addition to restructuring the product offering new technical capabilities have been added for Fluent and WIND-US interfaces and response surfaces.

Holiday Goodies

To celebrate the holiday season (and Christmas if that’s your holiday of choice as it is mine), here’s a sleighful of fluid goodies.

Chemistry of Snowflakes

Chemistry of Snowflakes

Cornstarch + water + speaker = Cornstarch Monster

Cornstarch + water + speaker = Cornstarch Monster

Painting in Water

Painting in Water

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