Turbomachinery design has significantly evolved over the last two decades, as supporting education and training methods and techniques remains a challenge. Diversity of technologies covered in the varying courses and extensive use of software by industry designers makes the task of delivering the course curriculum that meets expectations of industry and students difficult. Many educational institutes and business use generic CAE tools for the purpose of learning turbomachinery through student projects. While generic tools have proven their value in research and design, the comprehensiveness of these tools to tackle real life turbomachinery situations is far from desired. The inexperience of fresh graduates from universities and colleges in their inability to perceive a 4D machine (3D plus time), traditionally taught using a 2D blackboard, is evident. A student is not only required to have a very good understanding of underlying fundamentals, but is also required to address multitude of design, analysis and optimization problems within the limited time available for education. Coupling of theoretical and computer aided design knowledge to augment the capability of students to contribute to the industrial endeavor is necessary. Such a solution provides students with implicit understanding of the level of detail required by final designs, such as mean line design to the specification of a blade profile varying from hub to tip of a blade, and further complexities of iteration due to an aerodynamically correct blade profile being unsuitable because of stress levels or excitation frequencies and much more. AxSTREAM® EDU introduces multiple dimensions of design required by turbomachinery very early in the instruction process which, by using, the students are able to develop insights that traditionally are difficult to attain in the same time frame. The use of AxSTREAM® EDU as a design software has been proven to multiply the skills of the students, enabling broad 3-D design considerations and visualization seldom possible otherwise.
I hope everyone is having a great week. I wanted to write about our education system, as it relates to Turbomachinery, and perhaps some challenges that educators / students face, and some ideas for how things can be improved.
As computation technologies have evolved over the last 30-40 years, it seems that a large number of education institutions are still behind.
Part of my job at SoftInWay, is to make sure that local & global Universities involved in Turbomachinery have the most advanced software tools, so that the students graduating from undergraduate, as well as Masters and PhD level programs, have some kind of relevant skills to develop / optimize Turbomachinery, as well as know how to use relevant software tools.
From talking to Academia from different countries, it seems that professors (perhaps due to bureaucracy of their positions) are often faced with several challenges / decisions:
1. No budget for software tools thus forced to use free tools
2. Desire to create their own software, to eventually spin off and start a company
3. Lack of deep technical program, thus only picking macro topics as they relate to turbomachinery as general thermodynamics, etc. (which is important also).
What’s the problem with all of these approaches: When students graduate, and want to go into the field of Turbomachinery, a large portion of these students think that “Turbomachinery Design” can be done with CFD.
Looking at the last 5-10 years of CFD as it relates to Turbomachinery, people have been in several “camps”, with the most known names (such as products from Ansys, or CD Adapco (now owned by Siemens), Numeca, and some free open source CFD codes. Additionally, there has been a plethora of free or academic codes written by 100s of wide-eyed graduates students in hoping of making the next big software company.
Why does this cripple the education system, industry and the general concept of innovation? First of all, in all of these packages, you are going on the assumption that you already have a geometry of the turbomachinery and generally know what the machine looks like. Granted, some advertise that by “partnering” with other vendors they can do 1D or inverse design, when looking at these options closely, they are still very weak. At the same time, there are lessor known CFD packages (from example our Turbomachinery specific CFD module AxCFD that we offer) that while hasn’t been aggressively marketed, comes at 30% of the cost, and has not only faster computation speed, but is fully integrated in a complete turbomachinery design platform. While this is a great option for students, very few know about it, and we are always stuck with a thought “people need to understand the complete process of design, not just CFD, so let’s focus on teaching that, and sharing that message”.
In addition to working with Universities, another part of my job at SoftInWay is hiring, so what have i learned from looking at 1000s of resumes from masters and PhD students?
If you start to dig deeply, about what candidates have learned about turbomachinery design, how well do they understand, for example, compressor aerodynamics, or gas turbine cooling, quite often the answers come up short. This creates a steep learning curve, not just for our company, but also for major manufacturers and service providers.
We believe, that instead of the next generation of students, trying to re-invent the wheel, and spend their 2,3,4,5,6 years of education on equations and writing code, for a problem that has been solved, they should use a holistic approach, to advance, Power Generation, Transportation, Propulsion and Advance the clean energy space.
We have created a range of free resources for students in an online university format (learn.softinway.com) and encourage everyone to dig deeply, and together we can create a greener world, for the future generations.
Additionally, our turbomachinery development platform AxSTREAM (r), is the only platform in the world which is wholly integrated and developed in-house, including thermodynamic cycle design, 1D,2D,3D turbomachinery design, analysis and optimization, rotor dynamics and bearing design, stress analysis, advanced optimization and visualization, etc.
** Feel free to fact check this by looking at your current software simulation tools, and see how many modules or features or “tools” are borrowed from other companies. How can one ever learn and understand how things work and talk to each other, if knowledge is not developed, but rather borrowed.
If you are a student, or a professor at a college or university, and are interested in improving your turbomachinery program, and giving your students the extra skills (fundamentals and software), to really develop innovations, please write me a message !
This week marks the official launch of SoftInWay Turbomachinery University – a new online resource for turbomachinery design training. The site, affectionately referred to as ‘STU’, was created after the SoftInWay Learning Center received high demand and positive feedback.
The site was reconstructed and redesigned into a cohesive learning portal, packed with webinars, courses, and software trials. Users can take courses on demand and earn certifications specific to certain topics. The first course focuses on axial turbines, beginning at the basics and continuing on to streamline design and optimization. Continue reading “SoftInWay Launches STU – An Online Turbomachinery Training Resource”
On September 15th, 2014 SoftInWay will be launching a beta release of its new Learning Center. The center will provide users with the knowledge necessary to design, analyze, and optimize efficient turbomachinery. The center will act as an alternative education option to SoftInWay’s full classroom training courses. Those with time, travel, or budget limitations can use the center to acquire engineering knowledge in the fundamentals and hands-on applications of turbomachinery. Continue reading “SoftInWay launches its Learning Center”