I’m Brian Zdeb and This Is How I Mesh

Brian Zdeb, Technical Support Intern.

I’ve lived in a few different places so far in my life, but Illinois and California most define where I’m from.

I was born, raised, and will forever be a Chicagoan. I grew up in the Northwest Side (specifically in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood) playing baseball, basketball, pick-up football, riding bikes around the streets, and sitting on my friends’ porches. As I got older, my closest friends and I explored what the city had to offer inside and out. Downtown, Lake Michigan, festivals (Lollapalooza, The Taste), parades (St. Patty’s Day mostly), Cubs games/Wrigleyville, Lincoln Park, Edison Park, North Park, Lake-Shore Drive, friends’ new apartments, etc. We were always meeting new people and going out.

When I wasn’t at school or with friends, I was working with my hands in programs my father enrolled me in such as Boy Scouts and woodshop. He also had me help with house projects or car fixes (he was a mechanic). These experiences I appreciated the most, as they are what set me on the path toward wanting a Mechanical Engineering Degree.

Currently, I am pursuing this degree at Caltech and will be a senior in the coming fall. Caltech is an awesome fit for me since everything, even our downtime conversations, focus on science and engineering. The myriad of exceptional and intelligent people there make this environment possible, they are always willing to share their ideas or help you get a concept down-pat. Of course, the classes aren’t a breeze. I’ve never worked harder, slept less, and stressed more. Looking back however, I also never learned faster and retained as much information in such short time. The most important thing I’ve taken away from Caltech, though, is the will and capability to learn things on my own.

I was first introduced to CFD through my ME 50 class at school, where we had to mesh and run simulations on an airfoil, beam, plate, and an engine part. Now that I’m interning here at Pointwise, I’m excited to learn all about the quality meshing side of CFD!

  • Location:Fort Worth, TX
  • Current Position: Technical Support Intern
  • Current Computer: HP Pavilion, Intel i7 @ 2.5GHz, 8GB RAM
  • One word that best describes how you work: Piece-wise (setting incremental goals)

What software do you use every day?

  • I mainly use Pointwise when I’m at work to mesh whatever I need, or to practice meshing techniques and scripting.
  • I use Notepad currently for anything script related and for recording notes.
  • Outlook is my main email client.
  • I use Spark and Microsoft Teams to stay connected and talk to anyone I need at Pointwise.

What does your workspace look like?

Simple, most of what I need is on the computer, in my pockets, or in my backpack.

What are you currently working on?

I recently just finished meshing the horizontal axis CX-100 wind turbine blade. Pointwise’s 2D T-Rex surface meshing technique was used to march anisotropic triangles from the leading and trailing edges of the blade until they reached isotropy. This technique helps provide accurate curvature resolution while keeping the cell count low compared when with pure isotropic based curvature refinement. A nearfield block was placed around the blade to produce an unstructured block and better resolution. This block was then rotated twice to generate the three blades. A nacelle with a tower was created, meshed, and attached to the blade hubs. Finally, a farfield, unstructured block was formed around the blade blocks, nacelle, and tower. This wind turbine mesh will be part of a mesh automation project that will be presented at the upcoming NAWEA 2017 Symposium.

In the next steps of the wind turbine project, I will be helping write and test scripts for mesh automation. My other current responsibilities include assisting with quality assurance and testing of new features that will be implemented in the upcoming Pointwise V18.1 R1 & R2. Also, I am updating HTML scripts which will be integrated into the Pointwise website.

What would you say is your meshing specialty?

I think I need more experience to specifically say. Because I used 2D T-Rex to resolve the geometry of the CX-100 blade and 3D T-Rex to initialize the nearfield volume, I would say that I am probably now more effective at generating a quality, hybrid mesh.

Any tips for our users?

  • If you’re attempting to use Assemble Domain multiple times with nothing happening, it’s probably because structured was chosen instead of unstructured.
  • Trying to perform a simple action without success might mean a feature tab is still open.
  • I would definitely encourage using the Layer Manager and being conscious of what you’re putting in each layer. Even with small projects it can make work a lot easier as I’ve already seen.
  • The built-in tutorials provide a good amount of practice and are definitely worth working through. Additionally, Pointwise’s YouTube channel includes many videos demonstrating feature use and meshing techniques.
  • If worse comes to worst, the Support team will always have your back at 1-800-4PTWISE or support@pointwise.com.

What project are you most proud of?

Since I haven’t been here long, the CX-100 is the mesh that I’m most proud of. It’s my first project here and the meshing process has taught me to not be scared to test the many features Pointwise has to offer.

A school project for my ME 72 class involved teams of five and the design and fabrication of three robots to participate in a relay-obstacle course. In this course, the first robot had to navigate a pylon field and pass a ball to the next robot. Robot 2 would then traverse a ramp, pick up a weight, and drop the ball down a ramp where robot 3 would pick it up, open a gate, and deposit the ball in a goal. This required the integration of many types of engineering, and I’m proud my team and I were able to build all three robots and compete.

Another thing I’m most proud of isn’t a project, but is academic related. I was the recipient of the Questbridge scholarship for Caltech. Questbridge is a program that matches underprivileged students with colleges across the US, and the financial assistance granted acts as a full ride scholarship. Basically, if I did not receive this I would not have been able to fund any college education, let alone somewhere like Caltech.

What CFD solver and postprocessor do you use most often?

I’ve only had experience using ANSYS Fluent for fluid simulations and ANSYS Static Structural for FEA simulations. This was in my ME 50 class, where after we compared the simulated data to actual experiments using water tunnels, UTMs (universal testing machines), strain gages, and PIV analysis. It was definitely a cool and worthwhile comparison to see the accuracy simulations can offer.

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

The last few papers I read were unrelated to CFD, but were interesting nonetheless. I took a class on nano-fabrication and my final presentation dealt with microfluidic device use in gene therapy. In my search, I found the paper: “A vector-free microfluidic platform for intracellular delivery.” Written by Armon Sharei et al., the device described was the most exceptional, yet simple, out of other papers I read.

A couple other papers relate to the summer research I did back at Caltech on creating a computational model to predict debris flow occurrences. I read “A model for fire-induced sediment yield by dry ravel in steep landscapes” by Michael Lamb et al., and “The physics of debris flows” by Richard Iverson.

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

Probably not. I went to the AGU (American Geophysical Union) conference last year to present research and that was a lot of fun. If there are any CFD conferences near me I would definitely try to attend them though!

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

  • I love listening to my music and finding new songs to add to my various playlists.
  • I like to work-out a decent amount during the summertime.
  • I binge watch shows like crazy. Recent series I’ve enjoyed include Westworld, Silicon Valley, and Rick and Morty.
  • I like to dabble with cooking (so I can get better at it).
  • Hanging with friends is always great too.

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

Something along the lines of “The best way to learn CFD software is to break it.”

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

If I were around Chicago, I’d go to Gene and Jude’s to grab the best hot dog ever. If an awesome Italian sausage/beef combo with an Italian ice is more your style, Johnnie’s Beef is the place. For deep dish pizza, you can’t go wrong with Giordano’s or Lou Malnati’s.

If I’m back at school in Pasadena, I would suggest Long Xing Ji Juicy Dumpling in San Gabriel, CA. The name doesn’t lie, they’re the juiciest dumplings I’ve ever had. For a great sausage, Wurstküche in LA is fantastic. Or for a late night snack, the breakfast burrito at Lucky Boy in Pasadena is the move.

About Travis Carrigan

A Pointwise engineer helping other engineers solve their meshing problems.
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1 Response to I’m Brian Zdeb and This Is How I Mesh

  1. Brian, In all the time you were here, how did I not know you were a fellow Northern Illinoisan?
    I was born and raised in Elmhurst. It is about 20 miles West of Chicago.

    My wife and I always get Lou Malnati’s pizza when visiting family! We get one “THE LOU” deep dish and one “SAUSAGE” deep dish! (drool).

    I’ve never been to Johnnie’s Beef. I’m a Portillo’s (http://www.portillos.com) fan!

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