A New CAE Era – Interview with SimScale Engineer Babak Gholami
Babak Gholami is SimScale’s Senior Fluid Mechanics Engineer. With a Master’s in Computational Science and Engineering from Technische Universität München, he is finalizing his PhD in Biomedical engineering.
At SimScale, he is responsible for the maintenance, development, and integration of Fluid Dynamics solvers and product features.
Babak is also the author of “How to Set Up Boundary Conditions in your Simulation”, one of the most popular articles on our blog.
You are originally from Iran. What made you move to Germany and join SimScale?
I moved to Germany 8 years ago, I actually came here for my Master’s, which was in computational science. It was a course at TUM that targeted many students from different branches of science and engineering, to teach them the basics needed in order to contribute to one of the main paradigms of modern technology, which is interdisciplinary applications. Of course working in such complex areas is closely tangled with knowledge of programming and simulation, exactly what we’re doing here at SimScale.
It was at the end of summer 2014. I was finishing my PhD when a friend introduced me to SimScale. I loved the company’s idea and this is how I decided to join.
What did you find most appealing about SimScale?
What I like very much is that it falls into the new trend of technology. In the past you needed a lot of knowledge to start with an engineering simulation, but now you just need to get on the platform, learn the basics, and just get started. Then you can go one step further and do something better. With SimScale you really learn by doing, as opposed to needing extensive training to begin.
For which applications can the SimScale platform be used?
SimScale is actually suitable for plenty of applications. From basic fluid flows, for example pipelines, vehicle aerodynamics, compressible aerodynamics, and heat transfer simulations, to many applications in solid mechanics — static and dynamics simulations, frequency analysis and so on.
You can combine them with thermal or mechanical coupling and have fluid flow interacting with structure, heat transfer with structural analysis, etc. Add to all of these the family of particle simulations (particle with flow, without the flow) and acoustics. It covers a good percentage of the applications that are possible to do simulations with. It is really difficult to put a limit to it.
Why should somebody with experience in on-premises software such as ANSYS or SolidWorks start using SimScale?
We have to see the certain advantages that SimScale brings. I would divide them in two parts: you have those you get right away: first, a library of 10,000 public simulation projects that is constantly growing. This means that as soon as you have an idea, an application you’re interested in, you can go there, have a quick look, and find a template that you can use. All public analyses are open, you can go through the tiniest details and see how the simulations were performed; this is extremely valuable and can save you a lot of time.
On top of that, you are in touch with the people who have created the simulations; this brings advantages to both sides. They can interact and share their knowledge and experience. This community-based simulation know-how sharing is something you can only find in SimScale.
Then, since it’s cloud-based, you have the possibility to work on the same simulation projects from different locations; it could be different teams within a company, different branches, or companies around the world. You don’t need to worry about the overhead of transferring the data, about security, or the huge amount of data that simulations typically produce. Everything is automatically taken care of, and you can focus on the work.
So these would be the benefits you get from the start. And in the future, as the community grows, it will certainly bring further advantages. If you’re an engineering office, for example, at some point you will want to have a SimScale account. Not necessarily because you don’t use any other simulation software (especially if you need highly specialized software), but because everybody around you is using it. You cannot exchange ideas, work on the same projects, or enjoy new features if you’re not part of it.
How should beginners start learning SimScale? What steps should be taken?
First they should decide what kind of simulation they’re interested in. The easiest way would be to have a look inside our library, the Public Projects, done by our engineers or the 60 000 users in the community. Copy any project they find interesting, go over it, see what parts they understand and which ones they don’t. For the latter they should be able to find explanations in our documentation or ask the community members on the forum and discuss the projects in the comments section.
Little by little change parameters, run the simulation, see if it works, if it gives the desired results. They should take small steps, but continuously. After 1 or 2 days, they’ll have a completely new simulation.
What about the tutorials?
Tutorials are one of the resources to start in the first steps, but since their number is limited, some users might not find the application they are interested in right away in the tutorial. If they do, of course it is better because it is a guided tour to learn the basics.
Otherwise they should go through the Public Projects and follow the most active discussions in the forum, if they are related to the project they are interested in. If not, they should just create a new topic and they will get the answers they need.
Who should try the SimScale simulation platform?
Well… everybody. Firstly, people who want to use simulation software professionally, who want to do numerical analyses, collaborate on their simulation with others, make something that they can present on an industrial level and make money out of it. These are the users who prefer the Professional account, because they can keep their simulations private, while still enjoying the collaboration possibilities and the accessibility through the cloud.
Then it continues to students, the ones who have some simulation knowledge, but are still beginners. They already know what applications they want to use a simulation platform for or they’re looking to extend their knowledge and apply it to more complex cases; and of course sharing these ideas with the people in the community.
I would like to also mention those who simply like to learn something new and enjoy it as a hobby. In our case, this new thing could be turned into a way to make a living. I’m very glad that we have many users in this category as well.
In the end, anybody who is interested to improve their product designs and properly test them, should give it a try. We provide plenty of free learning resources to help them get started.
Some young professionals wonder if they should learn SimScale as it new and not yet fully adopted in the industry. What advice would you give them?
There is a changing trend. In simulation, we didn’t have open source software like OpenFOAM so dominant as they are today, but as we see, it is gradually changing. More features are being added, people find use cases for which they use this software; sometimes cases that cannot be done with other packages. It’s not going to be a sudden shift towards SimScale to be specific, but it does happen, gradually.
Also, when you learn to work with SimScale, it doesn’t lock you in. Whatever skill you learn on SimScale can independently be used with other simulation products.
Another crucial point is that many of the students and young professionals are looking to start their own businesses, they want to work on their own projects, develop them from scratch. Learning a platform like SimScale gives them this possibility. They can’t spend 50 000 € buying these on-premises packages and hardware that are not going to have a return on investment right away. This is where we actually offer a lot of flexibility with the monthly payment. We offer the flexibility they need, because once they try SimScale, it’s impossible not to like it. Or at least this is what our users say.
Tell us a bit about working at SimScale. How is the team?
Our team is fantastic! I have worked with different groups before both inside the university and in companies, in different parts of the world. And I would say if not the most, this is one of the most creative teams I’ve worked with. We have people with completely different backgrounds that are very capable in working together and learning from each other.
Apart from that, I think we have many people that are technically very strong; inside SimScale or not, they are really strong in their own field; not just on the industrial, professional level, but also on the academic side, they have a lot to contribute.
Thank you, Babak, for our conversation! And hope to see another of your great articles on the blog!
If you’re interested in reading more about what makes SimScale unique, you might like this interview with David Heiny, Co-Founder and Managing Director at SimScale.