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JOHN May 18, 2002 10:26

Help: Can a mechanical engineer be a programmer?
Hi guys; I am a senior in mechanical engineering & soon I'll be presenting my senior project. Now since I have programming skills & I love things when they get into mathematical detail & algorithms I found that I am into CFD. Therfore, I thought of a CFD senior project such as a full software (academic version for now that can @ least solve laminar flow fields). So far so good but two weeks ago a professor working for a CFD software company (Fl***t) came to our university to give a lecture about their software. When he finished, I asked him if I, as a mechanical engineer, can work as a developper for CFD software (solvers, applied algorithms...) so he replied that this is not my job... & believe me, since that day, I have stopped working on my senior... Please help me I am depressed!... He totally discouraged me... give me an advice, a hint or some of your experiences in the CFD field... I mean, who can understand a flow field or the NS equations more than a mechanical engineer? Help... I love programming & fluids... Thank you & Peace Be With You

Jim Park May 18, 2002 11:41

Re: Help: Can a mechanical engineer be a programme
A biased opinion:

Perhaps for efficiency (?), the F****t folks rewrote the entire thing in C++, or so they announced at their annual Users Meeting in about 1990. The users (paying customers actually), mostly engineers who had learned Fortran, were not impressed. But it happened anyway. My impression at the time was that the 'developers' were CS (and perhaps math) types who didn't know or care squat about the physics of fluid flow. Of course, the visiting prof would be spouting the company's party line. So I expect you could not do CFD with F****t. You might be able to do 'development programming' in C++ but not the problem solving that should drive the development.

As an ME myself who's done CFD programming since the late 50's, I think you can do useful CFD, but not working for the 'big boys.' But the fun has always been to figure out the important physics, model it with the correct approximation, (and figuring out that approximation!) and then implement it yourself. The economics of this mindset vary from problem to problem, client to client, and the previous experience you can bring to any project. Of course, your experience base grows with time.

How you get started I don't know. Maybe an entry level job with a specialist firm (some advertise in the back of Mechanical Engineering).

greg May 19, 2002 00:10

Re: Help: Can a mechanical engineer be a programme
Let's see -

I have been involved in CFD development for the last ~10 years, degrees in mechanical and aerospace engineering, no degree in CS. So I would say that yes it is entirely possible to be involved in CFD development with a degree in ME, although you will probably need to pursue an advanced degree in order to open the right doors. If you look at some of the places that are hiring for CFD development, the job postings fall into 2 categories. The first is generally programming related, requiring a degree or experience in programming. The second is related to the modeling or the physics - for that companies want people with advanced engineering/physics backgrounds.

J.K. May 19, 2002 12:43

Re: Help: Can a mechanical engineer be a programme

I reckon the guy from fluent had his head up his ar*e (sorry Jonas). I have a degree and masters in Mechanical Engineering. I am now doing a Ph.D in fluid dynamics. It is, in my opinion, of the utmost necessity that people who are developing these codes have a good engineering background. While one may be able to comment on algorithm efficiency, design and mathematical issues, it is very important if you are to develop usable code that you thoroughly understand the physics of the problem.

So, in summary, you are in a better posiiton than any other graduate discipline (perhaps on par with including Aersopace engineers) to pursue a career in CFD.

Sieze the opportunity...who knows, maybe some day, you can fire that guy!!

John YL May 20, 2002 08:26

Re: Help: Can a mechanical engineer be a programme
Yes, absolutely. I had ME degree and had a PhD in CFD, and actually I am working for a big CFD company in a very senior position. In fact to be a successful CFD developer, it is essential that one has a good understanding of physics and math. I don't know why that prof. said what he said. But as far as I know, that company also hire lots of developers with ME background, plus a few software engineers. Remember: it's easier to train a ME to be a good software engineer, the reverse is much more difficult!

JOHN May 20, 2002 11:31

Thank you!!!!!
Well... I have to admit that my CFD enthousiasm is back on track again! Thanks to you guys (or professors...) My ideas are setteling down finally. I now know what I will be doing... It's gonna be something nice... A project filled with programming that I'll continue in my future studies. Thank you for your advice. Peace Be With You.

mukkarum May 22, 2002 01:13

Re: Help: Can a mechanical engineer be a programme
Assalam Alaykum wa Rahmatullah Dear Sir I am doing M.E. by research in NED University my research project is "revemping of Francis Turbine applying CFD".I am studing solution of different equations like laplacian equation,poission equation,but still i haven't got any book or research paper in which solution of Navier-Stoke equation and Euler equation is present.If you know any book or article which will be helpful for me please informe me. waiting for ur prompt reply Wasalam, MUKKARUM HUSSAIN RESEARCH ASSISTANT

JOHN May 22, 2002 07:56

Reply to Mukkarrum
Marhaba, kifak mukkarum, I hope u r fine. I think the Nasa website has a lot of reports that might be useful to you. just go there & search for the things you want. good luck!

Neale May 22, 2002 18:06

Re: Help: Can a mechanical engineer be a programme

Don't worry. This guy does not know what he is talking about. If you actually want to be a CFD developer at some point in the future, then the only thing you might consider is an advanced degree (a Masters say), to give you more time to study and play with CFD in an academic environment. There is so much to learn. I don't think it is typical to get to play around with whatever you want in a job. Allthough, maybe you have a lot of spare time on your hands to do this outside of work ;-).


Clifford Bradford May 22, 2002 20:07

Re: Help: Can a mechanical engineer be a programme
Certainly, I had an associate who now works as a code developer for a CFD company. Granted your skill level may or may not be close to that of a "professional programmer" but you can develop that quickly with sufficient application. We tend to think of CFD codes as extremely complicated programs (and certainly the commercial multipurpose codes probably are) but compared to the sort of software that CS majors are trained to write (like Windows XP that had several billion lines of code) they are relatively simple. Remember that many of the graduate students in your department are writing code that is similar to complexity to a 3-D CFD code and they do it all the time often alone. So you can certain become a CFD coder. From personal experience I think CS guys make programs too complicated.

Jim Park May 25, 2002 22:30

More on "Can a mechanical engineer be a programme
My newsletter from the Purdue ME Department came today (this was my undergraduate institution). It announced a new staff member, Professor Jayathi Y. Murthy. Professor Murthy (I assume a Mechanical Engineer) worked for 10 years at Fluent Inc. She was one of the key people responsible for the development of the methodology underlying the solver Fluent! Directly, she was a developer for Fluent.

This seems to contradict your speaker's answer that ME's can't do development at Fluent (is that correct?) Maybe, as one other respondent to your original correction noted, he meant that you would likely need some graduate work before doing code development.

Anyway, the story is on p. 8 of MEMO, spring 2002 issue, Purdue University, Lafayette, IN.

JOHN May 26, 2002 15:43

Re: More on "Can a mechanical engineer be a progra
Well, Jim, you've been of great help to me! Thank you! My senior is gonna be on DNS of Boundary Layers (laminar, turbulent, free convection...). A lot of programming I guess with parallel computer implementation (although I've have no experience with parallel computing!). I got my enthousiasm back & I'll be using several languages (VB, Fortran & C++) to do the work + the mechanical understanding of fluid mechanics. I think I'm gonna get to a new solution or something hehe...I won't be needing to work for any company if that happens! Peace Be With You

mukkarum June 6, 2002 00:37

Re: Reply to Mukkarrum
Dear Sir Do u knw me and what is meaning of "kifak"

Sir i am working on research project "revemping of Francis Turbine applying CFD". I have got book "An introduction to computational fluid dynamics (finite volume) by malalasakra" it is very good book and i have understand SIMPLE, SIMPLER AND SIMPLEC method of solving Navier Stock equation but in this book just presentation that how Navier Stock equation can be solved but there is no solve example. Do you know any book or article in which this type of example is present. I mean that for any given problem(good if turbine rotor)firstly assume pressure field and then find velocity field then check pressure correction equation and repeat this procedure still convergence occure. waiting for your prompt reply thanks

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