I’m Sid Agarwal and This Is How I Mesh

Sid Agarwal, Intern on the Technical Support Team.

Sid Agarwal, Intern on the Technical Support Team.

I grew up in India in a small city called Karnal which also happens to be the hometown of late astronaut Kalpana Chawla.

I finished my schooling with an International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma in 2011. One of the IB Diploma requirements was a 4000 word essay on a topic of my choice. I wrote my essay on designing an airfoil to minimize wake turbulence. To run some experiments I built a small wind tunnel at home. Of course the project was naive and simplistic, however it made me want to learn more about fluid dynamics. That’s how I ended up at Georgia Institute of Technology for a BSc in Aerospace Engineering.

At Georgia Tech I had the opportunity to do some undergraduate research in CFD, or I should say, to begin to understand the challenges and complexities associated with it. All I can tell you about my results is that they were on the correct order of magnitude…most of the time. But, it made me want to learn more about CFD. So, when Pointwise offered me an internship it was a no brainer!

This summer I’m learning about grid generation with the Pointwise Support Team. Be it asking support engineers a ton of questions, or be it bugging the developers with (invalid) bugs, I am learning new things every day!

After this summer I am headed to Sweden for grad school. I will be starting my master’s at KTH Royal Institute of Technology  in Stockholm. I am pretty stoked about the CFD classes I will get to take! My thesis will hopefully also be related to a CFD topic.

  • Location: Fort Worth, Texas
  • Current position: Support Engineer – Intern
  • Current computer: iMac, 3.06 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 16 GB 1067 MHz DDR3 RAM, ATI Radeon HD 4670 256 MB, OS X 10.8.5
  • One word that best describes how you work: Sincerely

What software or tools do you use every day?

I use Google Chrome and Safari as my web browsers. Since my machine does not have Microsoft Office, I use Google Docs for taking notes and sharing documents with my colleagues. I watch all the Pointwise training videos on YouTube.

What does your workspace look like?

Sid's current workspace.

Sid’s current workspace.

I work downstairs in the Support wing in Claudio Pitas office. In addition to putting up with my questions, he also has to share his workspace with me.

My desk is pretty austere, except for the iMac on which I work. Besides the computer, there is always a Pointwise coffee mug filled with water in the morning and coffee in the afternoon. You may also see some merchandise from tech companies that John Chawner seems to have an endless supply of.

What are you currently working on?

Pointwise recently released version 17.3R3. I was involved in the regression testing process. As part of the process, I worked through the tutorials in this latest Pointwise version to make sure that the content of the tutorial workbook is still relevant. I also helped verify that the bug-fixes for this version were working as intended.

I am currently writing Do-It-Yourself (DIY) tutorials for the website. These small exercises demonstrate basic concepts and “tricks” that allow users to generate grids more effectively.

Other than that, I am working on creating a series of unstructured grid families for the trap wing geometry that was used in the 1st High Lift Prediction Workshop. Right now I am focusing on four grid families. The first two will employ different surface meshing algorithms – Delaunay and Advancing Front. Both of these will then use the Delaunay algorithm for volume grid generation. The second two grid families will be T-Rex versions of the first two (for enhanced boundary layer resolution using anisotropic tetrahedra). This project will serve as a benchmark for future studies and workshops.

What would you say is your meshing specialty?

I am still new to grid generation and CFD in general. Creating grids for the trap wing geometry is helping me learn a lot about unstructured meshing. I am hoping that by the time I am done generating grids for this project I will have a strong grasp on the best practices and techniques for unstructured meshing – both with and without anisotropic tetrahedral extrusion (T-Rex).

Any tips for our users?

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln

I remember using Pointwise for a research project at Georgia Tech. I opened the software for the very first time, imported my geometry, and started meshing right away. I didn’t spend time “sharpening the axe.” As a result, I was extremely inefficient.

There are a variety of tools such as the DIYs and tutorials demonstrating meshing techniques, tips, tricks, and best practices available on YouTube . Spending a little time on these tutorials upfront will save you a lot of time later on.

What project are you most proud of and why?

I would go with my ongoing project of grid generation for the trap wing geometry.

There are a lot of iterations involved in the design process because we want to adhere to good meshing practices while at the same time maintaining similar characteristics across different grid families. So I have had to revisit the grids I already created due to design decisions that were made further along in the process. That being said, it is a great project to work on!

The luxury of being surrounded by grid generation experts means that I am learning about the best meshing practices, getting instant feedback, and learning handy tricks to save time – a much more pleasant experience than me trying to figure out everything on my own on a Friday night in the Aerospace computer lab at Georgia Tech.

What CFD solver and postprocessor do you use most often?

I don’t have much experience with CFD solvers and postprocessors, yet. I have only used ANSYS Fluent for one of my projects to analyze transonic flow around a DLR F6 Wing. I used one of the structured grids submitted for the workshop.

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

I’m reading John Steinbrenner’s Construction of Prism and Hex Layers from Anisotropic Tetrahedra to learn more about T-Rex and cell combination techniques.

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

Yes! I am attending AIAA Aviation on June 23rd in Dallas. I will be at the Pointwise booth most of the time, but I am hoping to catch a presentation or two as well.

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

Making myself a latte in the upstairs kitchen.

Every now and then I also like taking a break from the hustle bustle of the city to go hiking. I prefer wilderness hiking because of the peace and quiet. It helps me relax. It also makes me appreciate the little things when I get back – like a warm and dry bed. However, I also enjoy hiking on well marked trails from one town to another, which is quite popular in Europe. In summer of 2013 I hiked the entire Kerry Way in Ireland. I did not mind having a Guinness and some fish & chips after long hikes and chatting with the locals. It was a pretty neat way of travelling the country! Last summer I hiked with a group of from Georgia Tech in Everest National Park in Nepal. Yes, we got a pic of THE Mount Everest.

A view of Mt. Everest on a hike through Everest National Park in Nepal.

A view of Mt. Everest on a hike through Everest National Park in Nepal.

It was a breathtaking hike with spectacular scenery and a unique cultural experience. This summer, I am hoping to hike the Kungsleden trail in Sweden.

Besides hiking, I also enjoy learning languages. I have been learning German for three years now and am pretty much fluent in it. I usually wake up twice or thrice a week at 4:30 am for my Swedish Skype tuition. I am trying to learn as much as I can now so that I can pick up the language faster once I move to Sweden for graduate school. I am also taking beginner French lessons on Skype every Sunday.

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

For the trap wing geometry project that I am working on I needed a farfield that is located at 50 times the body length. I was advised to divide such a big farfield into an inner and an outer farfield. This approach had two significant advantages:

  • My block(s) initialized 10-15 times faster.
  • It allowed me to have greater control over grid resolution in the vicinity of the wing.

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

Have you ever tried Indian-Chinese cuisine? It is the “Chinese” food you will find in India and is absolutely phenomenal! My favorite place is Princess Garden in New Delhi.

About Travis Carrigan

A Pointwise engineer helping other engineers solve their meshing problems.
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