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 !