How Our Interns Spent the Summer of 2019

cvcomplexitySummer is over and students have returned to school. That includes our summer 2019 interns. But before leaving us, they produced some great work that you’ll all experience for yourself in future versions of Pointwise. From coding to scripting to testing, Cannon, Cade, and Patrick accomplished a lot this summer.

Cannon DeBardelaben


Mike Jefferies (Manager, Product Development) & Cannon DeBardelaben

Cannon DeBardelaben finished his B.S. in mechanical engineering at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga before coming to Pointwise to work on our Product Development team.

One of the first things Cannon worked on was converting three of the scripts on the Glyph Script Exchange from Tcl to Python. Of the three he found conversion of the re-entry vehicle script to be most useful because it provides users with a direct comparison of Glyph scripting in Tcl versus Python as illustrated below. See the details at ReEntryVehiclePython.


A line of Glyph script in Tcl.


The same line of Glyph script in Python.

Cannon also updated two of the mesh readers and writers written using our Plugin SDKs. The Gmsh reader and writer were updated to v4.0 of that file format. (And at the same time Cannon updated our high-order meshing component to export Gmsh 4.0 files.) He also updated the ANSYS CFX plugin to utilize a new feature coming in a future release of Pointwise: the ability to import boundary and volume conditions.

The biggest project Cannon contributed to was something called “distributed Pointwise.” We had a team looking at how to architect the software so that compute intensive tasks in script form (for example, generating a volume mesh with hundreds of millions of cells) could be offloaded to available compute resources on the network so that the interactive Pointwise session wouldn’t be “locked.”  Using TCP/IP sockets for communication, the job information was sent via a “supervisor” process as a JSON object, which was then processed by the receiving node with the instructions for what Pointwise was to do (e.g. initialize a block using T-Rex).

At the beginning of the summer I challenged the interns to make Pointwise do something it is not supposed to do so Cannon wrote an interactive game based on the Star Wars “trench run” scenario.


Remember this from the movie? Cannon programmed a game based on this in Pointwise.

At the end of the summer Cannon wrote:

“The community at Pointwise is unlike any company I have ever experienced or heard about. While at Pointwise I learned a lot, met some great people, and got to do real, meaningful work.”

Cade Kingston


Carolyn Woeber (Manager, Technical Support), Cade Kingston, Claudio Pita (Engineering Specialist, Technical Support)

Cade Kingston had just finished his sophomore year at Texas A&M where he’s working toward a B.S. in aerospace engineering. He got heavily involved in meshing on our Technical Support team.

Cade was fortunate because the Technical Support team had several on-going activities to which he could contribute. With V18.2 R2 recently released and V18.3’s release imminent (as of the time of this writing) Cade was able to proof all the written tutorials and the new (as of yet unreleased) video tutorials. His work was instrumental in ensuring accuracy.

Quality assurance testing was also part of Cade’s responsibility and this took many forms. In addition to the tutorials and some benchmark grids, Cade researched several customer-reported issues and added some new features to our nightly test scripts.

At the end of the summer Cade wrote:

“Pointwise was my first internship and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. I was immediately given responsibilities and trusted like any other employee. If you want to earn valuable experience in CFD, Pointwise is the place to go.”

Patrick Mills


Patrick Mills, Nick Wyman (Director, Applied Research)

Patrick Mills came to us in the middle of a Master of Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec. He joined our Applied Research team.

Patrick’s first task was to update our NASTRAN file support for its large and small field formats. This capability will be released in Pointwise V18.3 R1. After that he contributed to an on-going project to evaluate how a mesh appears to a node-centered, finite volume flow solver by evaluating the control volume (instead of the mesh cell). For example, the image below shows how many control volume faces surround a mesh point.


An illustration of control volume complexity.

Interns rarely get away without working on a plugin and Patrick was no different. He updated Pointwise’s Kestrel exporter to its “rev 2” including high-order mesh capabilities.

Patrick’s exploratory project (he was working in Applied Research after all) was to compare two techniques for partitioning an unstructured mesh for multithreaded point smoothing: graph partitioning and point coloring. His preliminary results showed the latter to be 25% faster than the former and is very well suited to GPUs.

And for fun, Patrick wrote a game in Pointwise based on Connect Four.

At the end of the summer Patrick wrote:

“An amazing place to work. Everyone is very friendly. As an intern, you get to work on and write code that will be put into production.”

Farewell, Summer 2019

Despite the fact that all three interns seemed to have challenged each other to include in their final presentations the worst cartoon they could make using MS Paint (not shown here to protect the innocent), they produced some great work. We were very fortunate to have them here for this short time.

ICYMI, the interns and I read and discussed Carl Selinger’s book, Stuff You Don’t Learn in Engineering School. This was a great experience for both them and me. It’s the second summer I’ve done this with our interns because I believe it’s important to have them think about more than just lines of code and meshes. Here’s links to the four parts of our discussion.

  • Part 1: Introduction, Writing, Speaking and Listening,
  • Part 2: Making Decisions, Getting Feedback, Setting Priorities, Being Effective in Meetings
  • Part 3: Understanding Yourself and Others, Working in Teams, Learn to Negotiate, Being More Creative
  • Part 4: Ethics in the Workplace, Developing Leadership Skills, Adapting to the Workplace, Dealing with Stress and Having Fun, Taking Action and Summing Up

If you’d like to keep up with what our future interns will be doing or just general news from us about mesh generation go ahead and subscribe to This Week at Pointwise, our weekly email newsletter.


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1 Response to How Our Interns Spent the Summer of 2019

  1. Pingback: It’s Time to Apply for Summer 2020 Internships | Another Fine Mesh

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