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Allan Morrison March 28, 1999 01:04

educational software package recommendations
I have searched previous posts for recommendations on educational software for learning cfd but have found nothing YET.... so THE QUESTION IS ......

If you had about $2,000 USD to spend on an cfd educational software package/system for use on a PC what would you buy? This system would be primarily for two year college students in technology programs. Thankyou in advance. Allan

andy March 28, 1999 15:26

Re: educational software package recommendations
In my experience, if it is genuinely for teaching rather than "research", then all the major CFD suppliers will talk seriously to you in order to work something out.

My experience of using commercial CFD packages (and other commercial concurrent engineering packages) for teaching has been double edged. It was usually well received by the majority of students as "real engineering" which would help them later in their jobs. However, a lot of teaching time was lost showing the students how to drive the particular package. The packages rarely made it apparent to the students what they were really doing (the supporting documentation was usually fine as a user's guide but there were noticable differences between supplier's openness when it came to the details of the numerical and modelling approaches). The computing infrastructure at the university (predominantly PC based) could not cope with the load of students performing multiple 3D predictions. It could not cope with the printing demand either at the end of term.

For the CFD course (but not the concurrent engineering), I dropped the commercial package in favour of adapting one of my 2D research codes to make it sufficiently "user friendly" (just about). This made it clear to the students what the various stages were, what equations were being solved and what were the required boundary conditions. But the most important benefit was that it enabled the students to perform 50 or so 2D predictions making parametric changes to basically the same fluid mechanics problem rather than 2 or 3 3D predictions. This enabled the problems of estimating boundary conditions, effects of grid refinement and grid quality to be studied as well as the effects on the fluid mechanics of making geometrical changes and observing non-linear effects.

This was some years ago and, to be honest, I was in the process of trying to move to a commercial package (they have got better over the years and computers are quicker) when I left. For my teaching purposes, the leading suppliers could all supply suitable software. The requirement to have the students perform lots of 2D problems was causing a problem with the way the licensing worked but I am sure it could have been overcome. The biggest difference concerned whether the university already had site licenses for the software the CFD suppliers used to construct their pre and post processors (like Patran, AVS and ICEM (may have the name wrong - apologies)). This lead to quite a large difference between what suppliers could/would do for the price but I believe most CFD suppliers have now moved away from using such packages.

Having reread your posting, I realize I may not have quite addressed your problem (but I shall post it anyway since there may be some credit in it - good exam technique!).

John C. Chien March 29, 1999 11:01

Re: educational software package recommendations
(1). There is a huge difference between using a CFD code and developing a CFD code. (2). To use a CFD code, it is fairly straightford. one needs to define the CFD problem, create the geometry, generate the mesh, define the boundary conditions, then select the turbulence model and numerical scheme. That is about all one need to do in order to run the code. The post-processing of results is basically nothing new at all. (3). So, in this area, a real demo of using the CFD code from the begining to the end is adequate. At most a couple of days of time is enough. This is to show the actual steps required to perform CFD analysis ( or design). There is not much one can learn beyond this point. (4). There is a need to do so, because it is important to know how the CFD analysis is carried out in real life. This demo can be done anywhere , namely, the basic fluid dynamics course, the turbomachinery course, the aerodynamics course, and the heat transfer course, etc.. (5). As for the CFD code development, it is really a serious business. The basic requirement is that one must be able to write all the codes necessary to solve a particular category of problems. The reason why this is important is because " it is very hard to find a CFD job to support the code development". Most companies are not doing this at all. With this capability, at least, the student can survive in the real world because of his related skill, such as programming, problem solving technique, or the ability to use a CFD software. (6). For those who have reached the level of CFD developer level, they are definitely not in the position to give away the hard earned technology. I don't think they should either. (7). As this trend continues, the software house will eventually control the technology of CFD, unless the user community ( companies) also develop its own talent and technology. Most user companies have not invested in CFD development for the last ten years. ( some are able to survive because they are still able to develop product using the old try-and -error approach, mainly experimental approach) (8). It is true that CFD can improve the performance of a product design, and a commercial CFD code also can make significant contribution in the analysis and design. But the basic requirement is that an experienced CFD engineer must exist first, and hopefully, he is the one at the developer's level. (9). At his hand, a CFD code is a time-saving tool. Otherwise, a person running a code blindly is more or less like a slave of a computer ( always trying to find out the right way to follow the code instruction without knowing why). (10). From this observation, I think, CFD development ( and applications) will remain in the hands of relatively few hard-working CFD developers. This will not change for the near future regardless of possible wide spread use of CFD codes. ( most of these CFD applications are not truely necessary at all. )

Raza Mirza March 29, 1999 12:17

Re: educational software package recommendations
CFD-ACE+ from CFD Research Corporation ( would be an excellent choice.

To learn more about CFD-ACE+ and CFD Research Corporation, please visit our website at And please contact Ms. Gloria Powers for information on pricing.

Duane Baker March 30, 1999 02:01

Re: educational software package recommendations
This is an interesting topic and worthy of some discussion. How to introduce modern software tools to practicing engineers and students while satisfying the following goals:

1. efficient use of time, money, and computer resources 2. providing a thourough enough connection between the fundamentals, physical models, numerical methods, and the results without getting too bogged down in all of the details 3. providing relevant skills that are used in engineering practice

Here are some suggestions that I have seen in the past:

1. Use of a 2-D version of a commercial code as proposed by Dr. Stubley at the University of Waterloo. You can read a very good discussion about this at:

2. The text by Ferziger and Peric' "Computational Methods fo r Fluid Dynamics", although at more of a graduate level, is very well written and provides a series of FORTRAN codes which could be used for instructional purposes. The codes include a grid builder and a visualiser and could either be used for a course focusing on applications and only reading the source code for deeper understanding or as a basis for a course on writing codes from scratch.

good luck........................................Duane

Gregory Failla April 5, 1999 12:07

Re: educational software package recommendations
Dear Allan:

STAR-CD is available at a discounted academic price for academic purposes for Windows NT operating systems. For more information you can contact either myself or

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