I’m Josh Dawson and This Is How I Mesh

One afternoon on an excruciatingly hot summer day in Texas, as I was taking phone call after phone call working as a 401(k) specialist at Fidelity Investments – I decided to go back to school to get my Masters of Engineering in Aerospace. My parents were thrilled by my decision and my friends thought I had lost my mind! Until this point, I had not provided any tangible evidence I was capable of achieving such a goal.

While working at Fidelity, I began taking night classes to essentially relearn fundamental mathematical concepts like Trigonometry and simple Calculus. Once I was able to prove to myself I could successfully navigate those challenges, I formalized a plan to obtain my degree. Subsequently, I left my job at Fidelity to pursue my passion full time. Using the money I saved while working as a 401(k) specialist, after having just purchased a house no less, the journey began. Some days started as early as five in the morning and would last until midnight and other days seemingly ran together. I worked so hard I would sometimes forget to eat. Although difficult, the process and personal growth I experienced was unimaginably fulfilling! There were so many amazing people I became acquainted with, and so many incredible relationships I built along the way – I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything.

Long story short, I eventually graduated with a Master’s of Science in Aerospace Engineering. My first foray into the professional world started in Albuquerque as a Department of Defense contractor. While in that role, I would perform CFD simulations to track fireballs and chemical constituent species resulting from high explosive detonations. The work was interesting but I knew I wanted to concentrate on grid generation. After attending a Pointwise training class to add a tool to the proverbial toolbox, there was no question about where my next job would be. The staff at Pointwise was amazing, the atmosphere was amazing, and above all the product was amazing. Luckily for me, a position was available and the rest is history.

Now, I get to create meshes, talk about creating meshes, demonstrate how to create meshes…and then go home and create meshes for cool stuff like an SR-71, or a Mustang Shelby GT350.

  • Location: Fort Worth, TX
  • Current position: Senior Engineer on the Technical Sales Team
  • Current computer: Razor Blade 15
  • One word that best describes how you work: Grinder

What software or tools do you use every day?

Here we go…Pointwise, gVim, Microsoft Office Suite, Camtasia, and Notepad++.

I mesh a lot, so I use Pointwise quite often. Actually I love to download random geometry from GrabCAD and work on putting together the perfect mesh.

Most of my professional experience has occurred using Linux machines. This job is the first where I use Windows exclusively, so I now use gVim. When I am not using gVim for text editing, I use Notepad++. Notepad++ is nice because there is a huge list of languages which enables you to utilize syntax highlighting.

Of course I spend a significant amount of time using Outlook. I am never short on emails! I also use Excel when I feel like simplifying mundane mathematical tasks. Excel can also come in handy when writing lines of code that carry the same form and only a word or number changes from one line to the next. Actually, come to think of it, I use Excel quite often!

Finally, I use Camtasia to make and edit videos I create for clients as well as promotional/marketing videos.

What does your workspace look like?

What are you currently working on?

Currently, I am writing a few Glyph scripts for our clients. In addition to that, I am constructing a mesh for blood pump geometry to demonstrate Pointwise’s ability to generate high quality grids for biomedical devices. This work will be used in an analysis of solution dependency on mesh type and resolution.

What would you say is your meshing specialty?

Aesthetically pleasing meshes…and I love structured meshes.

Any tips for our users?

Be patient! You will not become a Pointwise power user overnight. Take time to familiarize yourself with any and all functionalities designed to facilitate meshing such as the right-click menu or adding scripts to your toolbar.

What project are you most proud of and why?

I am most proud of a project I cannot really speak to. A client needed a mesh and gave us some very restrictive criteria in terms of mesh quality metrics (maximum included angle and element count). I was able to construct the mesh while hitting both targets and the final mesh looked amazing!

What CFD solver and postprocessor do you use most often?

I have largely used Fluent but only when forced to do so. If given a choice, I would prefer to run OpenFOAM or Caelus. In this position, I only occasionally run CFD simulations.

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

Inter-Laboratory Characterization of the Velocity Field in the FDA Blood Pump Model Using Particle Image Velocimetry and FDA Benchmark Medical Device Flow Models for CFD Validation. These two papers demonstrate the use of CFD as potential tool used by the FDA in qualifying biomedical equipment. I am not versed in biomedical engineering, however, the CFD models are nonetheless very interesting. They appear to be very difficult CFD cases when you consider blood is a non-Newtonian fluid under most circumstances. The difficulty is even further exacerbated when you consider hemolysis (red blood cell rupturing) and thrombosis (blood clotting).

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

I will be attending the SAE World Congress in Detroit and possibly a biomedical conference later this year.

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

I enjoy the process of cleaning up really bad geometry! I always take it as a personal challenge. Then there is FIFA for the Xbox. My brothers and I will play FIFA online and compete against people from all over the world.

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

Garbage in, garbage out. First and foremost, you must have a quality mesh. The mesh can very much become a limiting factor in CFD simulation accuracy. And you must have a well posed problem. In other words, you must have your initial and boundary conditions set properly or your CFD simulation may not be representative of the problem you are trying to solve.

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

Heim BBQ…no question. This place has the best BBQ I have ever had the pleasure of stuffing my face with. The perfect outing would involve spring time weather, roughly 70s – lots and lots and lots of sunshine, a Shiner Bock, patio, and Heim BBQ. Live music would be good too!

About Travis Carrigan

A Pointwise engineer helping other engineers solve their meshing problems.
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