I’m Benoit Mallol and This Is How I Mesh

Hi, I’m Benoit Mallol and I’m a Senior Product Manager at Cadence Design Systems. I have two hats in the company: I manage the team for the marine applications and the team for unstructured mesh generation techniques for any kind of application.

Just the Facts

  • Location: Toulouse, France
  • Current position: Senior Product Manager
  • Current computers: a Windows 10 laptop and a LINUX Kubuntu 20.04
  • One word that best describes how you work: sharing

When did you first become aware of Pointwise?

That was a couple of years ago when I was looking for a surface to volume mesh generator for marine propellers on the Internet and found these nice pictures of the PPTC (Potsdam Propeller Test Case) made with Pointwise. Awesome job guys! I believe surface to volume methods have a great future for propeller meshing.

What do you see are the biggest challenges facing CFD in the next 5 years?

In the maritime world, CFD was barely considered when I started to work: towing tanks and the knowledge of the experts were the only reference almost 15 years ago. Nowadays, nearly all marine engineers and naval architects have been equipped with CFD and become fans of it. Nowadays, they want to check many more aspects of the design, progressively requesting more and more details of the physics from the real world. And the transformation of this industry is still evolving. CFD is, for instance, the only accepted testing tool for the next America’s Cup yacht design. CFD became a virtual towing tank. And there is a high demand for accuracy, automation, and turnaround time to evaluate more designs than ever. This leads me to believe that the biggest challenge that CFD will face in that field is that it will become part of a calibration activity for machine learning algorithms and simulators, to reach real-time performance prediction. CFD might simply become a hidden part of a bigger chain that engineers would ideally not have to worry about.

[John] Speaking of America’s Cup, Emirates Team New Zealand won the event in 2021 for the fourth time and our marine CFD tools contributed to their boat’s design. What is it like working on a sports application version something industrial?

[Benoit] These teams are using CFD in a very intense way, submitting hundreds of simulations per week. Also, discussions with them are also of a such high technical level that we sometimes forget this is about sport. The only difference in the end is that I will definitely wake up in the middle of the night if necessary, to watch the show during the cup!

What are you currently working on?

We are working on the guidelines to create anisotropic meshes for marine propellers using a surface-to-volume (S2V) approach to be applied on leading edges and blunt surfaces within Cadence Omnis™. Initially coming from the unstructured volume-to-surface mesh (V2S) world, our users will love these meshes since turbulence and cavitation will be better calculated thanks to this surface mesh and the viscous layers of an impressive quality, keeping the number of cells under control thanks to a high anisotropy.

What project are you most proud of and why?

I coded the first lines of C-Wizard, the automatic setup tool of the FINE/Marine software [ed. now known as Omnis Marine]. And now, thanks to all my colleagues that are making this tool so powerful and up to date with users’ feedback, I cannot prevent myself to think that it was a good idea to start it more than ten years ago. This automated chain is used daily for different kinds of ships, even for optimization loops and by hundreds of users!

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

We recently completed a paper on machine learning presented at the Numerical Towing Tank Symposium in October 2021 called: “Accelerating marine propeller development in early design stages using machine learning.” To rebound on what I previously said, I can only recommend checking this paper and similar ones on the subject to start thinking about all the possible applications of machine learning in your area and why not begin to collect data for your future usage of these tools.

[John] I’d like to read that paper. How can I or one of our readers get a copy?

[Benoit] Right here in the proceedings.

What software or tools do you use every day?

Teams is taking a non-negligeable part of my work time, to communicate and transfer all information to any group (that’s why the word “sharing” from my description has all its sense here) but I still open Omnis and FINE/Marine daily, and I am currently sharpening my skills with Pointwise!

What does your workspace look like?

Quite simple homeworking style but I like it.

[John] How do you like (or dislike) working from home during the pandemic? I miss the ability to interact with people in-person but I have to admit that I don’t miss the 45-minute one-way commute to the office.

[Benoit] I could not agree more. But on the positive side, every time I see again my colleagues, I have the feeling that we appreciate this moment even more; and I must say that having more time for my kids is also a true pleasure.

What do you do outside the world of CFD?

Family’s first! Then I go running in the forests or the mountains when possible, meet friends as often as I can.

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

Make a mesh convergence study first! Otherwise, who knows what will come out of the flow solver.

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

This is the most difficult question among them all… But I remember this restaurant on the Reunion Island (not too far from Madagascar) near Saint Leu, serving marvelous cocktails and local seafood, right on the beach. It happened more than 10 years ago but I could describe any moment of it: the sunset, the hot temperature, the food, etc., and my family which was there! I could not dream of a better place.

[John] I had never heard of Reunion Island until now and it sounds wonderful. Thank you, Benoit, for taking time for this interview.

If you’d like to try FINE/Marine (aka Omnis Marine) for yourself and obtain all the benefits Benoit described, click through to learn more.

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