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G. Brady April 23, 2001 09:59

Career Path?
Hi, I am a student currently completing an MSc in CFD. I wish to enter industry when I finish my course, however I rarely see jobs for graduates ( I know there is a few, but they are limited). Is this a frequent problem for graduates? It seems like a "chicken and egg" situation, you cannot get a job without experience, and you cannot get experience without a job. Has any one else found this? I would be grateful if anyone has some tips or good advice for somebody just starting out in the CFD industry. Regards, Gavin Brady.

J.FOSTER April 23, 2001 11:45

Re: Career Path?
Gavin, I am also studying a similar course and am finding similar problems as very few companies seem to advertise cfd jobs in graduate training schemes. Two websites that may be some use to you are and . I hope these will be of some help!. If anyone else has anymore advice I would also be very grateful!!


Jonathan Foster

John C. Chien April 23, 2001 12:51

Re: Career Path?
(1). From my point of view, one of the reason why the cfd job is relatively few is because it has been taken by the engineers within the company already. (2). If it takes only a week to a month for an engineer to learn how to use a commercial cfd code (or to use an in-house code), then most engineers in the company would have at least more than a couple of years of experience already. (3). On the top of it, the in-house engineers also have the experience about their own products, in addition to the code experience. (4). From the management point of view, this is better than hiring a new graduate. (5). Whether this approach is really productive or not, it is a good question. But at least, most engineers would work very hard to run the codes. And this fit my theory of "computer slave" nicely. (6). I don't think you will be able to escape this fate even if you got a job. The problem is in the management, in terms of the performance of their job. (7). My suggestion is: try to use your engineering background to find a general engineering job, in a company which is doing the hiring of new graduate. Once you have a job, you can gain the experience needed to move up to a next level. Please do not try to look specifically in the cfd field, because in this field there are already too many so-called cfd experts. There is no solution in the near future. ( I think, cfd has already created a pretty bad image throughout the industries. A person who studied the code for six months on his own can easily claim that he is an expert in a company. And there are many such engineers already. Whether they actually can solve a problem is another story. ) (8). Once again, if you are looking for a job, please bypass the cfd field.

John C. Chien April 23, 2001 13:20

Re: Career Path?
(1). An industry without regulation soon discover that there is no future for a new graduate. (2). Today, even if you have the experience to write your own cfd code, it is also very difficult to find a cfd job, because an employer is likely to have a code ready for you to use or modify. (3). Find a job where you can be more creative. (based on your common sense, not on someone's code.)

andy April 23, 2001 14:25

Re: Career Path?
This is counter to my experience. There seems to be a number of entry level jobs with CFD companies advertised in the Jobs page. Also a graduate here has just gone to work for CFX in Germany directly after completing his first degree.

The CFD "industry" has been growing rapidly in the last few years but it is still very small compared with say, general engineering jobs. If a company advertises for a CFD post they are doing this because they want CFD experience for a specialized job and a graduate rarely qualifies. However, an MSc may count but you may well be competing with a number of PhDs since this has been a popular subject area for several decades. One alternative would be to join a large engineering company as a graduate making it clear you want to do CFD and gain experience that way.

John C. Chien April 23, 2001 14:45

Re: Career Path?
(1). The news report says that German government is allowing foreign students trained in Germany to stay and work, because of the outflow of native German engineers and scientists leaving the country. (2). So, if you are in Germany, the situation would be different from that in other country.(mechanical engineering and sciences)

Sebastien Perron April 23, 2001 16:02

Re: Career Path?
As a new PHD graduate, I have the same problem. I have been looking for a job for the past weeks. There are few and they often require some kind of experience in a very specific domain ( mesh generation, experience with real industrial problems, combustion, etc ).

But there are many opportunities for those with a good backroung in mathematics and experience with OOP programming in JAVA or C++. You might not be able to do CFD. But at least, you will have a good job.

Good luck.

Jonas Larsson April 23, 2001 16:13

Re: Career Path?
Getting your first job is always a challenge I think. However, here in Sweden most fresh CFD PhDs get jobs in industry very quickly - for example, we (Volvo Aero) recently hired two new guys who just finished their PhDs. We're still recruiting btw... (see the CFD Jobs Database).

As a new PhD I think that you should look to join a company with a fairly large CFD group and with long in-house CFD experience. Smaller consultant companies etc. tend to prefer to hire (or "steal") you when you have worked for a few years in the larger industry.

Sebastien Perron April 23, 2001 17:30

Re: Career Path?
Thanks, for the advice.

Olivier Braun April 24, 2001 12:12

Re: Career Path?
Hello John, hello world,

the problem is not that so many engineers are leaving germany, but that there were not enough students for the last years, because, engineering and science studies have a "bad reputation". Seems that most of the young people are trying to optimize their career in a sense to get best payed for the less effort, and it seems that this rather leads students to prefer economics ;-(



John C. Chien April 24, 2001 13:08

Re: Career Path?
(1). It reminds me the trend of 80's in US. Everyone was trying to get a MBA. (2). Now, this group of student is in the management position. Without the technology and engineering, we are gradually moving back to the stone age. (3). In US, it is slightly different, because of the influx of foreign students from the third world countries. Some of them tend to stay after graduation. But even in this case, most will move into the hot market of IT. (4). The globalization of economy tends to emphasize the cheap labor, low cost, mass production and management, instead of the traditional high precision, high quality and high reliability products and services. (5). This seems to be the time, when the technology is going backward in time. (5). My feeling is: if one is interested in money, then he will get money. But then it is very hard to protect his own life, because he is not spending time to develop technology to protect himself. To develop technology, one has to respect another person because it is accumulative process. On the other hand, with purely money in mind, the world soon becomes a dog-eat-dog place. So, globalization in economy has to be done with higher human respect.

clifford bradford April 28, 2001 19:41

Re: Career Path?
I got my Masters in CFD too. I'd say this: as a MS graduate while you have spent two years specialising in a certain areas, companies want to hire you to do more than just what you've been specialising in. As an engineer with MS you should have a relatively broad base. When I was in grad school I took classes in CFD, Fluid mechanics, optimisation, structural dynamics,turbomachinery, and modular design (as well as a couple math courses and a seminar course). My research was in optimisation (structural) and aeroacoustics. Right now I'm on a rotational program where I do six month rotations in different groups. right now I'm in a compressor aerodynamics group (which is right up my educational alley) but in my previous rotation I was in a group that mostly designed piping (obviously not up my alley). My point is that in the work world you must expect to be multidisciplinary. I suppose compared to most of my classmates in school I had wide interests. my advice to grad students particularly those that intend to go into "real" industry is keep broad because when you go into the work world they expect you to be flexible. For CFDers in particularly you must realise that CFD is a tool: you have to have some knowledge in field in which the tool is used (aircraft design, turbomachinery,chemical processes etc). After all when was the last time you heard a technician say "I'm really good at using screwdrivers". I've met a few guys with grad degrees or pursuing them who were good at using screwdrivers

clifford bradford April 28, 2001 19:58

Re: Career Path?
The best ways to search for a job out of grad school are: (1) use your advisor and other professors in your dept. When I was in school profs were are good resource for finding jobs. They like to do it too because which grad school wants to have a record of graduating people who go to work at Burger King!

(2) Use your school's employment office.

(3) use professional societies (ASME, AIAA etc)

(4) Contact companies who use or sell CFD. I had a friend who got a job at CFDRC like this. I like turbomachinery so I applied to work with GE that's where I'm working now. Just because you haven't seen want ads doesn't mean they aren't looking. The web makes it easy: go to the company's web site, look for careers or job opportunities etc and check out what they have.

(5) Jonas has a pretty good listing of CFD jobs right here.

As for experience (a) your grad research counts as experience (b) for those who have more time in school - GET A SUMMER JOB!! Too many people spend all their summers at school. From my own experience prospective employers swarm graduates with intern or co-op experience like ants on sugar, regardless of whether the job was in their industry or not.

Also be willing to work in other areas. Personally I'd like doing almost anything that constitutes mechanical engineering. If you're a MS graduate be willing to apply for jobs offered to BS students and don't shy away from PhD jobs if you think you're good enogh.

I guess my main point is that you are a engineer not computational fluid dynamicists. Example I work for GE and at my location we have at least 500 engineers working on every aspect of gas turbine design and as far as I know only 3 have "CFD" in their job title

John C. Chien April 29, 2001 00:50

Re: Career Path?
(1). CFD is not a "tool". A "tool" has a well-defined function and will give you the result you are looking for. CFD does not qualify for this definition. (2). CFD is "numerical analysis and mathematical modeling in Fluid mechanics". It is a process. Analysis is not a "tool". It is a process by which you are trying to model the flow based on your experience and trying to obtain some useful data and result through computer.(3). For this reason, CFD requires an experienced and well-trained professional to do the modeling and analysis. If you are asked to run an aero code to obtain some numbers, you are basically an engineering aid. This is because, the aero code could also be the data reduction code for the wind tunnel testing. (4). Anyway, let me say it again, "CFD IS NOT A TOOL, IT IS A PROCESS TO DO NUMERICAL ANALYSIS AND MATH MODELING IN FLUID MECHANICS". The key issue is in the "analysis" and "modeling".

John C. Chien April 29, 2001 00:58

Re: Career Path?
(1). 3 is not enough, it is going to take a department to do the analysis and modeling, if the company is serious about doing CFD instead of testing. (2). A group of ten to twenty well-trained researchers (or engineers) with PhD degrees should be the minimum requirement in a company. (3). You can't say that the company has only 3 doing experimental work. The same applies to CFD. I expect this to change in the future, or the company will run into big trouble.

TOT KTO 3HAET April 29, 2001 14:08

Re: Career Path?
Sorry to hear that CFD is not a tool in your hands. Sure, it depends on how to use it. One may use a knife just to slice a loaf of bread, another uses to kill similar human beings, but only few use it to wood-carve masterpieces. The same for CFD.

John C. Chien April 30, 2001 00:56

Re: Career Path?
(1). There is a basic difference: In using a knife, we know that it can slice, it can kill, or it can create a wood sculpture. (2). In CFD, in most cases, we don't even know whether there is a solution. And even if one is lucky to obtain something, most of the time, it is not the real solution. (3). It is more like using a stone knife to slice a tomato. CFD is mostly research.

G. Brady April 30, 2001 05:47

Re: Career Path?
Thanks to everyone for the advice, its been very helpful.

John C. Chien April 30, 2001 13:47

Re: Career Path?
(1). Now you know that even the world leading company does not take CFD seriously. (because they are more interested in stock EPS or they simply don't have the right kind of people?) (2). You should be very happy to know that there are real cfd experts here at the cfd-forum. The first thing to change is to change the management structure. At the same time, as you have seen, even with a job, you are likely to be used as an engineering aid from department to department. (a better name to that is new employee training program. Career Path? depends on whether you can pass the exam at the end of the training period?) (3). I thought, there was a university dedicated to hamburgers. Burger King is one of my favorite place. (4). Anyway, the industries are lagging way behind the cfd-forum, so, "DO WHAT YOU LIKE TO DO OR ENJOY DOING". The only place where people are still talking about CFD is cfd-forum, right here.

Mike Henneke April 30, 2001 20:51

Re: Career Path?
I disagree strongly with the idea that CFD is not a tool. Merriam-Webster defines a tool as "2 a : something (as an instrument or apparatus) used in performing an operation or necessary in the practice of a vocation or profession <a scholar's books are his tools> b : a means to an end <a book's cover can be a marketing tool>" For many of us, this describes how we use CFD. I realize that for some people, CFD is a scientific discipline and an area for research. However, for many of us commercial code users, and certainly for our management, CFD is a tool. It is just one tool that engineers can use to solve problems. Engineers use rules of thumb, past experience, intuition, experimental analysis, and many other tools to solve problems and design equipment. It can be a little disillusioning to come from an academic institution where you're view of numerical analysis is to slave over a code for months to produce a parametric study to an engineering job where you're expected to run a commercial code and reasonable results quickly. I do a lot of CFD work and I don't think any of my solutions are grid-independent. It's a luxury I don't have. You need a different mindset to do CFD in most industries. I'm sure there are a few cush jobs where you can write code and not be expected to produce results very quickly, but those jobs are few and far between. I know that there are good jobs available for good smart engineers with a background in CFD. Just remember that industry views you as a problem solver. If CFD is your tool of choice, then use it wisely, but it's not an end in itself.


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