I’m Dr. Michael G. Remotigue and This Is How I Mesh

Dr. Michael Remotigue, Engineering Specialist on the Product Development Team.

Dr. Michael Remotigue, Engineering Specialist on the Product Development Team.

I grew up in Fairfield, OH, a bedroom community of Cincinnati.  I’m the second oldest of four brothers.  My father is Filipino and my mother is German.   It was the summer after my freshman year of college when I met my wife, Robyn, from a close friend, when I was actually on a blind date setup by my older brother.  We dated through college and married right after she graduated.  We have two boys, Aaron and Ethan, and they were born in Mississippi.

I received my B.S. of Engineering Mechanics from the University of Cincinnati in 1986.  To be honest, engineering was not my first choice of vocation, initially I was thinking of becoming a veterinarian.  My late father practiced Family Medicine and my brothers and I found many of our days going to the hospital and waiting in the doctors’ lounge till he finished his rounds.  I ended up perusing through the medical journals and books.  Mainly the pictures and drawings were eye opening, amazing, and disgusting.  Who really reads them for the articles?  I eventually became desensitized and very clinically minded, I just thought animals would not argue as much and be better patients, plus they are just cuter.  I was accepted at Purdue and another college I can’t remember, but chose to attend The Ohio State University.  The spring of 1981, I changed my mind after attending an orientation at OSU.  At that moment, it just dawned on me that after four years of study, I would not be marketable until I actually completed another four years of vet school.  I did not want that much school.  Little did I know at that point what my true aspirations were.  After that fateful day, I scrambled to decide on what I wanted to study and where, before I graduated high school.  It was a toss-up between Aerospace and Mechanical.  At the time, UC offered a B.S. in Engineering Mechanics, out of the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, that allowed for additional unspecified engineering electives that the other degrees did not offer.  I saw that as an opportunity to allow for exploration in various engineering courses.

In 1983, it was during my first of five co-ops at Eglin AFB, FL that I got my introduction to the field of mesh generation and CFD when I met Profs. Joe Thompson and Wayne Mastin during one of their many visits where they were working on a new mesh generation code called EAGLE.  On my third and remaining co-ops, I managed to get into the CFD group headed by Dr. Lawrence Lijewski and used EAGLE to create meshes, submit CFD runs over a telephone modem, and also helped develop and maintain a visualization tool.   It was exciting to work next to and get educated by these people who ultimately steered my studies at UC.

Upon graduation, I hired on at General Dynamics in Fort Worth, TX and was assigned to the CFD group headed by Ishwar Bhately, where I met Chawner, Steinbrenner, Fouts, Matus, and Karman.  I tweaked and used Gridgen and ran CFD analysis on different projects like the National Aero-Space Plane (NASP), F-16, A-12 and YF-22.   I did a lot of complaining to the development team back then when I encountered bugs.  I was also responsible to bug fix and compile the flow-field visualization packages provided by NASA, Plot3D/Real3D, when new updates came and to also develop a plotting package to display data in various graphs.  After the A-12 cancellation in January 1991 I was released and I focused on finishing my M.S. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington, which I completed later that fall.   What should have been a downturn in a career, turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  It so happened, that my M.S. advisor, Prof. David Thompson ran into Joe Thompson at an AIAA conference that year.  Thompson was looking for new graduates to help staff the National Science Foundation (NSF) Engineering Research Center (ERC) at Mississippi State University (MSU) and he remembered me and requested that I send him a resume.

Before I was allowed to take the job, Robyn insisted that I show her where Starkville, MS was on the map.  When I arrived, my initial task was to continue the development and training of EAGLE, but eventually with another colleague, Dr. Michael Stokes, we developed a graphical user interface version called EAGLEView that allowed graphical manipulation of the geometry and mesh, active selection, used popup dialogue boxes to capture selections and required inputs to generate the script language of EAGLE, record the commands, and display the results from EAGLE on the screen.  After a year passed, I started my Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering at MSU one-class-at-a-time and concurrently EAGLEView matured and became a viable “free” mesh generator, but one drawback became apparently clear, the geometry representation was a spline of discrete data points.  There was a push to describe the geometry accurately and actually have the mesh represent the model to a tighter tolerance.

In 1993, I joined a team of developers and academics to create a new software product called the National Grid Project (NGP) that addressed the need to mesh directly on imported CAD data via the use of Non-Uniform Rational B-Splines (NURBS) and it was to be able to create multi-block structured and unstructured meshes in the same system using the same geometry model tied together by a solid modeling data structure.  After two years of development, the software was never released due to stability and robustness issues, but Brian Jean and I were given a terminal mandate to at least demonstrate it’s potential.  Brian Jean was in charge of developing and stabilizing the underlying NURBS data structure and related utilities library, which was called ATLAS.  I was in charge of everything else. In 1996, I stuck my neck out again, and maybe stretched Brian’s a bit, by arguing that I could salvage a structured code within a year.  We needed something to replace EAGLEView and fast.  It was lagging behind since all my time was being focused elsewhere.   The research faculty and staff were not getting the required geometric fidelity needed for their CFD simulations.

We were successful; the resulting software was called GUM-B (General Unstructured Multi-Block).  GUM-B was used in-house at the ERC and “given” to various companies, government labs, and universities.   An additional tool called GUMBO (General Unstructured Multi-Block Omnitool) was developed shortly after, and it allowed multi-block structured grids to be read in and pre-processed for the various CFD solvers that were used in-house and by our users.  I desperately wanted to use the acronym POKI, but just could not figure out a decent description.  Inside GUMBO, the assigned boundary conditions and connectivity were tracked and copied as needed during splitting, merging and transformations.  It became a valuable front end to TURBO, the parallel turbo-machinery code, developed at the ERC and provided to industry, academia and NASA Glenn.

When I received my Ph.D. in 1999, I hired on as an Assistant Research Professor in the SimCenter at MSU, which was later merged into the Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems (CAVS) SimCenter.  In addition to maintaining and developing GUM-B, GUMBO, and teaching an occasional class, I took on the responsibility to maintain and develop the unstructured sister code, SolidMesh, which was developed by Adam Gaither.  The codes were developed using the same geometry, graphics, and GUI libraries.  The topology data structure was similar but it was less rigid.  Just the mesh generation algorithms were different.  However, that quickly changed when I started adding the structured algorithms into SolidMesh.

Later as an Associate Research Professor and before I left MSU, I was developing SolidMesh++ (SM++), which would have a journaling/scripting capability, OpenGL support, a stand-alone API library capable for rapid software integration, and a customizable GUI.  SM++ was used in designing an urban modeling system, BlastScape which generated a simplistic geometric description of buildings or obstructions and the blast information which was imported into MeshScape, which automatically generated either structured or unstructured meshes for the farfield, the nearfield, the overset mesh around the prescribed geometries and a hemisphere for the blast description.  SM++ was also used to rapidly generate 100s of blast-soil mesh cases, which were created by using a Voronoi diagram from random points.  The Voronoi regions represented soil particles and were “exploded” at various time scales.  Only those particles that where within a prescribed expanding unit square where used and the exposed gaps where meshed.  The grids were used to calibrate the blast model.  The full functionality of the SM++ API was never completely integrated into a GUI before I left.

Sadly, research funding is not guaranteed in academia and as things were becoming tight, I decided that a change of scenery was needed and I reached out to Pointwise, my first choice.  In August 2012, I joined the Pointwise team and worked remotely for a year so Aaron could graduate high school.  Now I’m in Fort Worth and enjoying every day.  The one thing that makes me excited is that the software has a lot of potential to add new features and capabilities.  The CAD import, solver export, technical support, training, documentation, and marketing and sales capabilities of Pointwise Inc. are what I dreamed I had for my software.   Pointwise is very similar in concept to the software that I developed, but it is more complex, software engineered, and has more tools to make quality meshes.  This is the NGP concept.  There has been a lot of thought and development that allows both the structured and unstructured capabilities to co-exist, work seamlessly together, and still create a quality mesh.  A blessing for me is that I just focus on the bug fixing, research and development, which has been relaxing and less stressful.   Maybe I should not mention it here; much to the delight of the family, I don’t bring my work home with me as often.

  • Location: Fort Worth, TX
  • Current position: Engineering Specialist, Product Development
  • Current computer: iMac 27” Retina 5K Display, 32 GB 1600 MHz DDR3, 3.3 GHz Intel Core i5, OS X El Capitan, AMD Radeon R9 M290 2048 MB, Hewlitt Packard 27” HP2711x monitor (1080×1920), wired keyboard with numeric keypad, magic mouse
  • One word that best describes how you work: Methodical

What software or tools do you use every day?

I’m old school when it comes to my text editor.  I’m like Michael Mirsky, Vim is my editor of choice.  I started using vi at Eglin AFB when I had to edit batch scripts at a remote sight across a dial-up modem and I have been using it ever since.  Just never really saw a need to change, just evolve.  I use Perforce for revision control.  Steve Karman and I are considered the misguided duo because we both use Mac OS X computers as our development platform.  They have proven many times over how temperamental they are, but I have grown accustomed to the idiosyncrasies.  My de facto debugger and compiler is Xcode.

What does your workspace look like?

Michael's current workspace.

Michael’s current workspace.

My cubical is located in the product development suite on the first floor by a window.  The window is key, because the time of year dictates if the ever-present fan or heater is in operation.  When I was remote, I bought a Herman Miller Mirra chair and an Anthro 48” Adjusta ergonomic computer desk on wheels, so I can move them around easily and occasionally work standing, and I now have at work.  I mounted a 4 port usb 3.0 hub to the front underside of the fixed desk to allow flexibility to plugin external drives and flash drives and a power strip on the back metal plate.  Stealing an idea from Michael Mirsky, I mounted my 27” monitor in portrait mode next to the iMac, which is used to display mail, messages, browser, and Xcode.  I mounted it this way so I could have the iMac positioned in front of me, where I run Pointwise and text edit, and only glance at the portrait monitor as needed.

My desk is my sanctuary; it is what I would call organized chaos.  What ever the current project is I’m working on, the associated papers, books and notes get piled on it until the task is done.  I would be deeply amiss if I did not mention how I isolate myself from the ever-present pedestrian and traffic noise that comes through the window.  My Audeze EL-8CB headphones, Audioengine N22 amplifier, iPod classic (loaded with Jazz, Rock-N-Roll, Metal, Pop, Alternative, and Christian Rock), and LG G Pad 7.0 (streaming Sirius/XM, CNN, or ESPN) help isolate and tune out the noise of the outside world and the consistent clicking of keyboards.

What are you currently working on? 

Fixing bugs in Pointwise V18, but most recently trying to improve the unstructured normal extrusion and structured algebraic & hyperbolic extrusion algorithms.   The most recent issue is the instability of the structured normal extrusion in regions where a singularity is present, and I have been determining how to detect the divergence and correct the problem.

What would you say is your meshing specialty?

My introduction into the field was multi-block structured meshing, but developed tools to read, process, and generate CAD geometry.  Eventually I ventured into unstructured mesh generation.  Overall, my specialty has been to integrate mesh generation tools, functionality, and utilities into a graphical user interface system.

Any tips for our users?

In Pointwise V18, the unstructured normal extrusion functionality and options have changed.  Some corrections are also being done to the structured hyperbolic and algebraic extrusions to help robustness.  There will definitely be a change in the grid, but hopefully the results will be a better quality mesh like I have been seeing in my tests.

What project are you most proud of and why? 

In the soon to be released Pointwise V18, the join unstructured blocks capability was a fun and interesting project.  Not only did it help me understand the code, but also it gives me great satisfaction when I know it will be a useful tool for the user.  Programming the functionality helped me learn about the different block topology data structures and many other aspects of the Pointwise software and its infrastructure.  I like a challenge and figuring out the science that has gone into the development of Pointwise is one and I’m highly impressed by the computer science that is used and how some of the mesh generation algorithms are refactored.

What CFD solver and postprocessor do you use most often?

The last CFD solvers that I used were the research codes developed at MSU.  I haven’t had a need to use one since joining Pointwise, but I have used Tecplot, FieldView, and ParaView to visualize the mesh.  I now mostly view the mesh in Pointwise V18.

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

I have not been reading anything new at this moment.  I have been refreshing my knowledge of hyperbolic mesh generation, by reviewing “Hyperbolic Methods for Surface and Field Grid Generation”, William M. Chan, Handbook of Grid Generation, Eds. Thompson, Soni, Weatherill, CRC Press and A Generalized Scheme for Three-Dimensional Hyperbolic Grid Generation, William M. Chan and Joseph L. Steger, AIAA-91-1588-CP.

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

May attend AIAA Aviation or the International Meshing Roundtable.

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

When not at work, my time is spent with church, family, projects and hobbies.   I am active at Arborlawn United Methodist church and Ethan’s youth group at Genesis United Methodist church.   I’m also on the Troop Committee of Ethan’s Boy Scout troop and go camping when I can.    Aaron already received his Eagle Scout, but he is now in Austin attending the University of Texas, which we frequently visit.  Other family travels have taken us to Yellowstone National Park and Mt. Rushmore, the Big Island of Hawaii, and most recently a trip to the San Jose/San Francisco area to visit family.

Robyn understands that before we call a repairman and if it is not under warranty, I will try to diagnose the problem myself and then make the assessment to see if it is something I could do.  If it requires a tool and I don’t have it, I would buy it or rent it.  I like home projects and the satisfaction I did it myself; for example, I did renovations to our house in Mississippi, like installing bamboo flooring, tiling, detailed trim work, painting, plumbing, electrical re-wiring for new light fixtures, installing a stove/oven and dishwasher, and building a built-in entertainment center. The one thing I will not do is wallpaper.  I just do not have the patience to install it.  We moved into a nine year-old house in Texas, so my projects have been minor home improvements and repairs. I added additional interior lights, replaced the sled on the garage track, rewired the garage door when it came off track, replaced a hose on the washing machine, replaced a broken exterior light receptacle, and replaced a light switch.   Robyn does see some painting in my near future.

One of my hobbies is related to my project interest, since I need another excuse to use my tools, I have made a bench, a bookcase, and floating shelves.  I’ve also been the self-designated photographer at both of my son’s school activities and provided the pictures to the parents and the school yearbook.  Last year I upped my game by purchasing a new 24 MP Nikon DSLR with 5 frames per second and a 28-300mm telephoto lens.  I’m also a self-proclaimed audio/videophile and have a collection of music and movies on disc and digital as well as vinyl records, that I play on my 7.1 stereo system composed of Paradigm speakers, Denon components, Apple TV, Roku, and a 64” Samsung 3D plasma TV.  The system has taken me 15 years to assemble.  I do prefer to watch movies at home than in the theater.

I also have a collection of 200+ die-cast miniature cars.  Majority of them are Matchbox superfast cars, I liked these cars since they were less futuristic and resembled actual car models.  Recently, I haven’t been actively collecting them, especially after Mattel acquired them.  It was difficult to find models without flashy paint and unrealistic modifications.  My oldest car is about 1969 and I have a few with a cracked windshield and nicks in the paint.  I have a small collection of Matchbox Premier Series models along with my Gumby and Pokey figurines on my file cabinet at work.

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

The best advise or visual was from Prof. Joe Thompson when he first explained the concept of multi-block structured meshing to a naïve co-op at Eglin AFB – If you visualize each block like a sponge and if you can fit it in the field to model your geometry, then you should be able to grid it.  What an eye opener that concept was and that sparked an interest in this new field of study.

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

My absolute go to restaurants would be the Montgomery Inn Boathouse and any Skyline Chili in Cincinnati, OH.  Our family eats there every time we go home to visit relatives.  We also travel through Starkville, MS regularly and we frequent The Little Dooey, Newks, and City Bagel while there.  Locally in Fort Worth, Cousins BBQ, Saltgrass Steak House, and 3 Parrots Taco Shop are favorites.  Personally I like sushi, the family not so much, but Sushi Axiom is one of my choices.  But to be honest, I do prefer my cooking overall.

About Travis Carrigan

A Pointwise engineer helping other engineers solve their meshing problems.
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1 Response to I’m Dr. Michael G. Remotigue and This Is How I Mesh

  1. Pingback: I’m Rick Matus and This Is How I Mesh | Another Fine Mesh

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