CFD Online Discussion Forums

CFD Online Discussion Forums (
-   Main CFD Forum (
-   -   CFD Career for Maths graduate (

Leo May 30, 2004 09:53

CFD Career for Maths graduate
Is it possible for maths graduate (With major studies in CFD) and good knowledge of CFD to find a job in CFD?


Only the mech or aero engineers are eligible?

Jim_Park May 30, 2004 13:05

Re: CFD Career for Maths graduate
Mathematicians used to talk about fluid mechanics as a delightful field of study, "rich in non-linearities." So some at least regard fluids as 'their' field.

CFD is a different can of worms of course. One needs to be aware of the dirty little business of designing algorithms, reducing them to code, and all of that. Still, mathematicians shouldn't be excluded here - unless they choose to exclude themselves.

Working in CFD without some background in fluids and some appreciation of engineering economics would I think be difficult. But that probably does not REQUIRE a degree in engineering.

For the commercial codes at least, the coding seems to be a game for computer scientists.

So IMHO, you have a chance, but you'll likely need to acquire a much broader perspective than a mathematics education is likely to provide.

Good luck!

Leo May 31, 2004 00:28

Re: CFD Career for Maths graduate
Do you think a good background includes studies in computational mathematics, hydrodynamic stability, fluid dynamics, CFD courses, FEM, parallel programming, + good programming skills? In the UK almost every mathematics department is conducting research in fluids. I took some classes with guys from Mech eng and found that people from applied maths had better understanding of the pdes and mathematics of the fluids in addition to better coding skills in C and fortran.

Leo May 31, 2004 00:33

Re: CFD Career for Maths graduate
Im my personal opinion, designing algorithms and reducing them to code is an active area in mathematics. Many applied mathematicians do it on dialy basis. Also, the numerical solution of PDEs and writting effective programs to solve PDEs is one of the most popular branches of applied mathematics.

mstein May 31, 2004 05:54

Re: CFD Career for Maths graduate
The CFD companies I know, have much more engineers than mathematians. If you are working in this field in the economy, your customers will be technicians. Everywhere in the economy finally you have to solve the problems of your customers. It is very helpful therefore to think like the customers. At the end this means for you , you have to think like an engineer in this field.

The mental difference between mathematians and engineers is large! And many typical habits of the engineers are often scary for mathematians. On the other hand CFD is naturally a field which is very near to maths. From that it is clear that the engineers in the field are stamped by the mathematical point of view. I suppose if you are up to face and bridge the mental difference between engineers and mathematians than you can learn that on the job.

A further point is, that its depending very much on the area you plan to work in. In my opinion code and model development are fields you're education fits best. Support and application are also well, but more technical. Probably sales is not the thing for the average mathematian. Well, any rule has its exception.

Probably you're colleagues and boss will be engineers. I suppose it will be not helpful for you're carreer to tell them that mathematians are better skilled. They are! But I suppose it is not helpful for you to talk about that.

Good luck

Hrvoje Jasak May 31, 2004 06:20

Re: CFD Career for Maths graduate
Sorry if I am being blunt, but it seems to me that you are asking a question and you've already got the "correct" answer for. :)

To my knowledge, major CFD vendors fill their development departments with aeronautics and mechanical engineers. Software writing skills are extremely important, as is the familiarity with the "flow physics" (loosely speaking). As far as designing algorithms and reducing them to code, this is an active area of research (!) but in an everyday life of a development engineer there's much more computer science, bug fixing and working on existing algorithms rather than writing brand new ones.

As for a career in CFD, you still have a choice: academia or industry. For industry, it is quite straightforward: no matter what your first degree is, go and do a PhD in a CFD-related subject and in a good school. Pay attention to your programming skills (they should be top-notch!), write a few decent papers and you should be able to walk in! If you really fancy algorithm development, I would suggest academia; otherwise you may get tied up in much more mundane jobs (e.g. bug-fixing). As far as I can see, there's always plenty of opportunities for a talented individual wherever you turn.

Good luck,


steve May 31, 2004 08:45

Re: CFD Career for Maths graduate
Interesting comment Hrvoje. In academia you get to do fancy algorithm development but in the commercial world all you do is bug fix. Is that because academics never actually write bugs or because they never fix them? Or I suppose on the other hand, is commercial development so poor to begin with that they create 3 bugs for every line of code written? Steve

Hrvoje Jasak May 31, 2004 10:48

Re: CFD Career for Maths graduate
No, actually, I did not meant to be that nasty: I think it is a fact that you get more freedom and less pressure in academic work, which means that you can declare the new algorithm finished when it's working for all cases you've tried. This would include both algorithm development and bug-fixing (cannot do one without the other). Once the code is working, you can do a bunch of cases you intended etc etc.

In a commercial CFD company, the next step is the big one - the new algorithm ends up in a code and it is released. Others start using it as well, sometimes for the cases you've never envisaged. Therefore, they are more likely to break it in novel and interesting ways and it is the author/company that is responsible for fixing it. The reality is that CFD companies answer to customers' needs by picking up papers and implementing stuff. I think it would be fair to say there's more "algorithm research" done in academia than in industry.

In my experiance, the commercial CFD quality is better than your average "home-made", partly because you've got a bunch of testing people and automated test loops + the Q/A stuff to do on top of just "code development". Anyway, commercial codes are out there and everyone is invited to have a go at breaking them :)

I'm dying to hear your opinion as well...


steve June 2, 2004 20:39

Re: CFD Career for Maths graduate
I was joking (well half joking anyway) about your original comment. I don't really have any argument with your last post. Much, though not all, commercial coding work is taking things done by academics and making it more usable, robust and general than originally written. Commercial grade code should (but does not always) meet higher standards than academic codes. People who look for "bargains" by picking up "free" codes often get exactly what they pay for.

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 02:45.