The 7 Real Stages of a CFD Project

Motivated by Hi-Tech CFD’s 7 Stages of a Typical CFD Project and inspired by the slightly more cynical 7 Stages of a Project I present…

The 7 Real Stages of a CFD Project

  1. Enthusiasm: “Wow, this simulation is going to be really cool!”
  2. Disillusionment: “OMG, look at this CAD file.”
  3. Confusion: “You want the separation location accurate to within 1% by tomorrow?”
  4. Panic: “Why is the @#$%^&* solver crashing?”
  5. Search for the guilty: “Who implemented this turbulence model?”
  6. Punishment of the innocent: “There’s a problem with the mesh.”
  7. Praise and honor for the non-participants: “Wow, this 3D VR visualization is really cool!”
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10 Responses to The 7 Real Stages of a CFD Project

  1. Daniel Wei says:


  2. Payam says:

    Actually, It is more than exactly. Sometimes, the confusion comes up with “uhm… I feel the simulation hasn’t being converged, maybe I should use a finer grid”
    and the panic when seeing the residual during the first 100 iterations, “I feel these residuals won’t meet the convergence, let’s change the solver a little bit, or the grid”

    • John Chawner says:

      Thanks, Payam. Sounds like you’re speaking from experience.

      • Payam says:

        Thank to you for the blog, and sharing interesting thoughts in this beloved field of study, grid generation and CFD. Yeah, I had experienced all the seven items as you said, and the interesting point is every time that somebody failed in a simulation, the first thing he would think of is the innocent grid.

  3. jdrch says:

    This is spot on.

  4. jdrch says:

    CFD is the field in which:
    – Your boss doesn’t understand the projects he assigns you.
    – Your graduate advisor still can’t get your name right. “Hi Jonah” -____-
    – RTFM is PhD level reading, and you “only” have an Master’s degree.
    – The customer thinks you’re powerful sorcerer/mage with ability to solve 2-way transient studies overnight. And then an idiot when your results don’t agree with their design engineer’s 1D hand calculations or some internal expert who makes you wonder why the bothered hiring your firm in the first place if this guy seems to know everything and can solve reacting flows in his head. But I digress.
    – Your in-laws think you’re aloof at best.
    – Your wife wonders how she puts up with you, but remembers that she never has to worry about infidelity because if you’re not with her you’re in front of the computer mumbling things to yourself. What a catch, this guy.
    – Your parents have trouble describing what you wound up doing for a career to their friends. “Prison” or “in rehab” is almost easier to say.
    – Your friends still think you fix cars. Or computers.
    – You think you’re a slacker because everyone else seems to be getting so much done and blog posts make simulations like the above look easy. So why are you having so much trouble with it?
    – Your coworkers think you’re a genius. Or a masochist who’s learning new programming languages and knocking stuff out the park while they’re struggling (see previous point).

  5. Franklyn says:

    well said often it happens….:)

  6. Martin says:

    LOL, spot on.

    Oh, and lets not forget,
    8.) Geez, you changed the geometry again?!
    (Of course this keeps CFDers employed, so not really a bad thing..)
    9.) Will you CFD vendor marketing guys stop blowing hot air up my bosses derriere! He actually believes what you’re saying about how accurate, easy, and all powerful CFD is!

    • John Chawner says:

      8) Yes, I probably should’ve included that in the original.

      9) He believes us because what we say is absolutely true!

      • Martin says:

        LOL, yes, in general they are true. It’s the things that are not said and left to extrapolation which create interesting beliefs! Hey, in an odd way, dealing with marketers is like dealing with fluids. Beware extrapolation… Hmm, maybe we need a program to analysis this, computational marketing dynamics, CMD… 🙂

        (BTW, to all you marketers, regardless of the hard time I give you, we really do need you!)

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