I’m Christian Atwood and This Is How I Mesh

Christian Atwood, Technical Support Intern.

­Hello! I was born and raised in the Fort Worth area. I cannot remember a time when I was not looking towards the sky at twin-jets flying overhead. From a young age, I knew I was focused on eventually working somewhere in the aviation industry, yet I was not aware that I would develop an interest in computer science that meshes with the aerospace industry well. My love of all things aviation related was shown when I received my FAA Private Pilot License in the summer before my junior year at Trinity Valley School. I trained in single engine, piston, normally aspirated, Cessna 172s and 152s at Meacham International. Though it was a lot of intense training and hours, the decision to start flight training was one of the best of my life. After I thoroughly explored and pondered becoming a professional pilot, I decided that I would rather work for a major aerospace corporation or a smaller aviation-related branch.

I should also mention the first computer that I started to use when I was six was a Compaq Presario series that had a Windows operating system developed for the invention of the World Wide Web (Windows Millennium Edition). It had barely enough RAM to open a few applications. It could not perform much; however, it introduced me to the computing world and what is possible.

After maxing out on physics, calculus, and computer science classes at Trinity Valley, I knew that I also wanted to minor in computer science as well as major in aerospace engineering. I found Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida to be the perfect place for my interests. The campus is even connected directly to the Daytona Beach International Airport, where I can fly in my spare time.

The opportunity to be an intern at Pointwise is a perfect fit for me, as it incorporates the aerospace industry with computer-aided design and computational fluid dynamics. I am grateful for the experience that I have gained and will continue to gain as an intern.

  • Location: Fort Worth, Texas
  • Current position: Intern, Technical Support
  • Current computer: Lenovo W530 (AKA: Icarus)
    • Windows 10 Enterprise x64
    • Intel Core i7-3610QM @2.30GHz
    • 16GB RAM @ 800MHz
    • Nvidia Quadro K1000M
  • Current computer: (Personal) Dell Alienware 17 R4
    • Windows 10 Home x64
    • Intel Core i7-7820HK @2.90GHz, 3.90GHz Boost
    • Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 8Gb GDDR5X
    • 16 GB RAM @ 2667MHz
  • Computer Peripherals: 
    • Razer Mamba Wireless Mouse
    • Razer Blackwidow keyboard
  • One word that best describes how you work: Cautiously

What software or tools do you use every day?

What does your workspace look like?

I keep my desk organized with very little but a laptop and notes sitting on it. This eliminates clutter and distractions, helping me work efficiently. I like being able to work next to a window as an intern.

What are you currently working on?

I finished working on a mesh to be used in the simulation of a horizontal-axis wind turbine that has been periodically rotated to complete the entire computational domain. I am now working on behalf of the support team on quality assurance, testing Pointwise software for functionality and usability. I am also working on Pointwise’s new online documentation, creating information on certain Pointwise tools and commands.

What would you say is your meshing specialty?

Though I have just recently started using Pointwise as an intern and still have a lot to learn, I think that I am most proficient in creating database structures in the Pointwise GUI. I feel that I have a good handle on creating geometry that is simple enough to be used in CFD computation, but also complex enough to provide adequate mesh resolution around areas of particular interest.

Any tips for our users?

My suggestions for new users would be to follow along with all the Pointwise tutorials that can be found under the Help menu within Pointwise. They list in detail every step of the meshing process and expedited familiarity with the layout of the software.

Another tip for new users would be to try to either create your own geometry using Pointwise’s shape commands or download a relatively simple geometry online and attempt to mesh it. Meshing without the help of the tutorials will let you experience the software and the meshing process that will eventually teach you more about grid generation and best practices.

Also, Pointwise users should feel more than welcome to contact our support team with any questions they have while using the software.

What project are you most proud of and why?

I am most proud of the horizontal axis wind turbine project. This project allowed me to overcome certain challenges that I did not experience in the tutorials and did not initially expect. It was the first time I was given a handle on the creative aspect of the meshing process, as the values and procedures had to be developed through intuition, help, and some equations to develop a suitable end result. One of these challenges I had to overcome was when I attempted to initialize the near-field block around the first of three blades to be used in the final geometry. I came upon a maximum included angle problem that was solved only through many iterations and modifications of different parameters.

Another project that I am proud of was completed in my senior year at Trinity Valley, where I worked with three other students to create a few virtual-reality simulations with the Oculus Rift and Touch sensors via the Unity game-development environment.

What CFD solver and postprocessor do you use most often?

I currently have not used any postprocessor and solver, but I want to try using OpenFOAM in the future. It is appealing to me as it can be run on Windows through Linux bash.

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

I have started browsing the many papers and journals located on www.cfd-online.com, and will start reading them in my spare time.

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

I am a FAA certified Private Pilot, so I like to take local flights around the Dallas/Fort Worth Area when I can set aside a bit of time. Also, I like to keep up my proficiency in Java and other programming languages. I am a moderate gamer in my spare time, where I play PC games such as Counter Strike: Global Offensive, and GTA V with my friends.

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

Some of the best advice I have received so far is to take advantage of symmetry when possible, for doing so aids immensely in computation when it is later meshed and initialized. I learned this the hard way when I attempted to initialize a rather large block in Pointwise rather than breaking it up into smaller, symmetric blocks. I immediately realized how helpful splitting mesh into smaller blocks can be.

Apart from CFD advice, I have been told that the last 10% of work always takes 90% of the effort, and this seems to be true of meshing as well. In this last 10%, I attempt to refine the work that I have completed.

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

My absolute favorite place to eat is Busaba in London. It has a great selection of Thai food. Locally, my favorite place to have a nice meal is Bonnell’s in Fort Worth.

About Travis Carrigan

A Pointwise engineer helping other engineers solve their meshing problems.
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One Response to I’m Christian Atwood and This Is How I Mesh

  1. Christian, you should check out Caelus (https://www.caelus-cml.com), an OpenFOAM derivative, developed by two of our Pointwise distributors. It is compiled and runs natively on windows.

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