This Week in CFD

Special “Black Friday” Edition


  • Exa announced a patent-pending methodology for identifying noise sources in aeroacoustic simulations.
  • MSC Software released Marc 2015 for non-linear FEA simulations.
  • From Warsaw comes QuickerSim, a CFD consultancy and makers of the CFD Toolbox for MATLAB.
  • Symscape writes about why integrated meshing is a good thing.
  • FEA for All delves into the topic of proper mesh density.
  • Desktop Engineering shares information on Altair’s SimLab 14.0.
Thanks to Mentor Graphics for the simulated turkey roasting for Thanksgiving. Click image for article.

Thanks to Mentor Graphics for the simulated turkey roasting for Thanksgiving. Click image for article.


  • IDC makes a few predictions about changes coming to software licensing in 2016 and #4 caught my eye: at least 3 software providers will announce their intent to end perpetual licensing. [You’ve read here before “Software licensing models have to change.” Is this it?]
  • A recording of Flow Science’s recent webinar What’s New in FLOW-3D v11.1 is available online for you to watch. (Registration required.)

Would a Programmer by Any Other Name Smell as Sweet?

Earlier this month, an article in The Atlantic cause a bit of a stir when it asked programmers to stop calling themselves engineers. The essence of their argument as I understand it is that engineering is a profession built upon well-founded principles so as to properly serve the public trust. While reading the article I was reminded of the old joke that if engineers designed and constructed buildings the way programmers design and build programs, we’d all be living in caves.

In rebuttal, the folks at GrabCAD wrote Software Engineering is Engineering. Their argument as far as I can tell is that engineering is a systematic approach to design that focuses on practicality, safety, and resiliency. (Actually, there is debate within academia about exactly what software engineering is and implies.)

It’s pretty clear to me that The Atlantic is talking about engineer as a noun while GrabCAD is talking about engineer as a verb. (In fact, that distinction is made somewhere in one of the articles.) Keeping in mind that I’m an engineer by education (admitted bias), it’s my opinion that you shouldn’t have a job title of engineer unless you’ve graduated from an ABET-accredited engineering program. Whether or not you’re a licensed professional engineer (PE) takes being an engineer to a new level and we could debate all day whether all engineers could, should, or must be licensed as PEs.

GrabCAD’s counter argument that a Facebook outage is no big deal compared to a building collapse strains credibility. After all, if Facebook with their resources can’t get this programming thing right, who can? But citing Facebook is also a bit of a red herring; how about hackable medical devices like pacemakers? How much engineering do you want in those?

Is it possible to be a good programmer without an engineering degree? Certainly. Is it possible to be a competent programmer by working within an engineered process? Yes. Can you be an engineer and a lousy programmer? Indeed you can.

But you’re not an engineer without the degree. And that’s not a value judgement relative to programmers and software developers.  After all, a computer scientist isn’t an engineer either.

And don’t get me started on “Sanitation Engineers.”

"HVAC Volume visualization of flow-induced noise sources using Exa PowerACOUSTICS' patent-pending FIND module." Image from Global News Wire. See link above.

“HVAC Volume visualization of flow-induced noise sources using Exa PowerACOUSTICS’ patent-pending FIND module.” Image from Global News Wire. See link above.

Gallery of Fluid Motion 2015

From the recently concluded 2015 meeting of the American Physical Society Division of Fluid Dynamics meeting comes this video collection of the Gallery of Fluid Motion, 77 brief videos to which you can geek out and git yer flow on.

One that caught my eye is illustrated below, a computational laboratory for the study of transitional and turbulent boundary layers by Jin Lee at Johns Hopkins.

Screen capture from Jin Lee's video of a computational boundary layer lab. Click image for video.

Screen capture from Jin Lee’s video of a computational boundary layer lab. Click image for video.

But I really enjoyed A Day in the Life of a Fluid Dynamicist from Reckinger, Reckinger, and Owkes at Montana State and Rua from Fairfield. Nicely done. [I hope you got interviewed by FYFD while at APS DFD because I think people will want to learn more about you all.]

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2 Responses to This Week in CFD

  1. Wojciech says:

    Thanks for the mention about QuickerSim! That’s 100% MATLAB based FEM solver for fluids. The new release is already there – check our website for details. You can run 2d flows with heat transfer so every newcomer to CFD will appreciate that.

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