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CFD Career Paths? Wise choice?

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Old   August 29, 2006, 08:59
Default CFD Career Paths? Wise choice?
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I'm a young engineer, and I work in water filtration business. My boss would like to get me into a role where I would be doing CFD analysis for our systems. This is a very complex system, and CFD analysis is completely new to us. I would probably be doing a lot of on my own learning because I don't see other people here with that sort of experience/skill. I do not have much fluids specific knowledge aside from my undergraduate in mechanical engineering, where I took a course in FEA but did not take all the advanced fluids courses.

Clearly the desire to become an expert/master at CFD and FEA is a reason why people pursue this field. I guess I am just wondering if people have found that they become so specialized that it becomes difficult to change career paths or evolve into a more all-around engineer/manager.

I am just looking for people's honest opinions about this field and if you have any advice. Thanks.
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Old   August 29, 2006, 09:20
Default Re: CFD Career Paths? Wise choice?
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I would avoid becoming a CFD specialist, it is an interesting field but CFD is just a tool that is used by people to solve problems in Fluid Dynamics. It is better the become a Fluid Dynamacist where you know about the physics of fluid flows and use CFD as one tool (and a VERY useful one at that) to delve into this. As an analogy, a carpenter doesn't just learn to use a hammer

I think that you are a more useful engineer if you take this approach.
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Old   August 29, 2006, 09:33
Default Re: CFD Career Paths? Wise choice?
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This is my own opinion. You do what you like. You would not regret if you do what you like most. You will happy with your life. We are living in a dynamic world. Everthing can change. A highly demand career now may not be popular in future. Whether CFD specialist or Fluid Dynamacist, it is just a name. The important thing is how you solve the problem. In industry, it is time and cost that matter. You are engineer by training and you should know that the job for an engineer is to solve the problem using minimal time and cost.
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Old   August 29, 2006, 14:55
Default Re: CFD Career Paths? Wise choice?
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I guess that if you work in such a large industry you will probably be using an industrial code (one of the "big three" probably) and I am sure they will provide good training and mentoring services. This at least will give you an understanding in how to use the relevent code, you will probably find that you will have access to a "cut down" version of the code too such as STAR-Design, Flowizard or such this should give you fairly easy meshing, boundary application etc and is a good environment for learning more about the physics and the effects of mesh, boundary, turbulence etc. If your boss expects you to jump straight in with little or no experience and start running large complex physics cases then he has another thing coming and you should tell him this.

This all said no matter how easy the codes are to work you DO need a good understanding on the principles of numerics, meshing, turbulence modelling etc as well as the underlying physics involved, otherwise you will be groaping around in the dark. CFD is very much a case of putting garbage in getting garbage out, you may be able to get some pretty pictures but whether they mean anything, rectifying the problems, making them mean something and getting good numerical data is another thing altogether. Good luck though!!
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