Posts Tagged ‘CFD’

16 September, 2014

In my job I need to exercise a fair bit of creativity. Sometimes my ideas are readily picked up. Some require a lot of massaging and some never see the light of day… I used to take criticism of my ideas personally but not since hanging out with engineers. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from you guys is that there’s no such thing as failure – only outcomes. As Thomas Edison famously said “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” If a design fails to meet specifications it isn’t a failure. It’s an iteration and provides you with useful information.

Keeping this statement in mind is particularly helpful when you’re setting up models for analysis. One of the most complicated tasks related to CFD is meshing. Some consider it a black art that takes years to master. A mesh needs to be fine enough to provide you with an accurate result but the finer the mesh the longer the solution might take. So experience definitely counts because you’ll need to play with the mesh until you’ve achieved the right balance … a mesh nirvana of sorts. I remember back in the early 00’s meeting an analyst who would spend a couple of months refining the mesh on jet engines he was testing. Iteration after iteration … refining the mesh. And the more time you spend on meshing the longer you spend on analyzing the design (something that would slow down the entire This is a cost you pay for using traditional CFD software. No wonder some design engineers shy away from using CFD but I’ve got news for you.  The new generation of CFD solutions such as FloEFD, feature the latest in technology so you can reach mesh nirvana quickly :-)

Let me introduce you to the Visual Instruments Operations Division at Seiko Epson Corporation in Toyoshina Japan. The group is involved in designing projectors. Projectors are a necessary bit of kit for every conference room. If you’re like me you don’t really notice them until you realize that you have to make a presentation and the projector is missing, it’s not working or the fan inside it whines so loudly that as a presenter you start yelling at the top of your lungs. Not a fun experience for either party in the room!

Cooling airflow verification inside of the whole enclosure. Image courtesy of Seiko Epson Corporation. All rights reserved.

Cooling airflow verification inside of the whole enclosure. Image courtesy of Seiko Epson Corporation. All rights reserved.

Their analyst team started using thermal simulation back in the 90s. And in 2009, the organization adopted FloEFD to help enable design engineers analyze their own designs (as opposed to wait for the analysts) and speed up productivity. I found it interesting to read about their adoption of CFD during the early stages of the design process and how they optimized the design of their projectors while accounting for factors such as heat sources, noise and even humidity. It was fascinating to read that among their requirements for selecting CFD software for use by design engineers was that all members of the team had to be able to use it with ease of meshing being a top criteria. So by using FloEFD, their design engineers can now modify designs as they are developed. Fantastic! To read about Seiko Epson and their experience with upfront CFD please follow this link.

Pretty cool, no?

And as projectors go, the one in our conference room drives me batty. If only someone could figure out how to make all of our laptops work with it without having to revert to black magic and incantations, our meetings would actually start on time :-) Or maybe I’ll go have a chat with the IT group and see if we can get one of these beautiful Seiko Epson projectors… hmmm I feel a plan hatching!

Until next time,
Nazita

PS. Thought I’d tell you guys about this brilliant initiative by Google and IEEE – The Little Box Challenge and its $1M prize! All you have to do is design a smaller power inverter (they’re looking for a reduction in size of 10x or greater). If anyone can do this, it’s you guys! And if you need a bit of help on the testing side get in touch with us. You’ve got until the end of Sept 2014 to register and it and runs through 2015. I look forward to reading about your efforts and drop me a line if you enter the contest!!! I’ll be cheering for you from the sidelines :-D

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26 August, 2014

I moved to England 10 years ago – actually it’ll be 10 years come September 1st. During this time I have seen rain, rain and even more rain. I’ve even lived through some tepid winters and downright cold summers.  In fact, I’ve adopted an endearing habit of the English and have become obsessed with the weather. Take last year for example. We had some nice weather in April (chilly but with warm sun so it was actually quite pleasant), a handful of days of proper summer weather in June, July and August. If you totaled up all the days it was something like 30 days.  And I remember turning on the heat in early September because summer left these shores well before the autumnal equinox.  That was pretty much the extent of our summer.

This March we had some lovely warm sunshine so I thought that was it and spent as much time as I could outdoors. Then April happened to be nice too. And low and behold the nice weather stayed with us in June, July and August. This is the first summer since 2006 where I actually got an English tan and remained tanned – when I went to LA a couple of weeks ago I wasn’t the palest person in the room for a change.  Of course the downside of heat in a country where it doesn’t get hot often is lack of air conditioning. Some office buildings and stores are kitted with AC but a majority of buildings including my office are not (the same kind of situation you find in San Francisco). Quite frankly we don’t need it 95% of the time and I prefer fresh to canned air any day (your skin doesn’t dry up like a lizard’s nor do you feel compelled to wear a fleece and fingerless gloves in 90 degree weather because the AC has two settings – freeze or deep freeze).  But during that 5% …

A simplified model of the hallway and my office. All rights reserved - Mentor Graphics Inc.

A simplified model of the hallway and my office. That’s me in the corner :- All rights reserved – Mentor Graphics Inc.

Working in the airflow biz, I’ve learned a few tricks over the years. Now when it gets really hot, I turn up the AC in the conference room at the end of the hallway, place a fan just inside the doorway to push the air down the hallway and the offices down on our end get to enjoy lovely cool air. That is until someone books the conference room and shuts our supply.

A colleague who’d never seen my set-up before was rather intrigued by it on the first hot day of summer. He walked into my office with a rather bemused look on his face and told me that the airflow wasn’t optimized. He adjusted the fan before returning to his end of the building (which is air conditioned). The next day he came in bearing gifts. He’d built a rough model of my set-up including me and my office and analyzed it so he could give me additional tips/tricks to improve the airflow. BTW that’s me in the corner being hot (and no this isn’t the prettiest CFD plot but it communicates what it needs to easily and without any fuss). Fantastic! He suggested a two fan model – a second fan down the hallway just inside my office door to push the cool air into my office. As soon as we deployed his suggestion my office became noticeably cooler. One happy customer right here :-)

This type of conversation probably takes place on a daily basis around the world. No, not the turn up the AC and put in a couple of fans down the hallway but the use of CFD to optimize hot and cold airflow in buildings. By using CFD architects and facilities managers can easily optimize airflow in structures of all kinds without much fuss or ceremony and without having to subject the occupants to unnecessary discomfort. And in case you’re wondering, we have a vast amount of educational material that can be very helpful if you’re trying to solve an airflow problem or two. Just follow this link to our resource library and have a good look.

Oh and I’m very pleased to say that my office has since been kitted with a lovely AC unit which keeps me nice and comfy but I’ve hardly used it since installation. It seems our summer has come to an abrupt end because we’re expecting the temperature to drop drastically in a couple of days (yup, it’s still August!). But I’m not going to complain. We’ve had a lovely summer.
Until next time,
Nazita

PS. And to prove it’s been a nice summer here’s a picture I took in mid-May while out on a walk near Derby

A sunny afternoon near Derby. All rights reserved.

A lovely late spring walk near Derby.

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23 July, 2014

I went out to a dinner party this past Saturday. I sat next to an ex-colleague who I now consider among my dearest friends. I met him five jobs ago – a while back we decided that it was kinder to our psyche to talk about jobs as opposed to the number of years. He is a brilliant engineer and has many years of simulation software use under his belt. He leads a team of several junior engineers who work on projects so nowadays he doesn’t get to play with software as much. But a recent project had brought one of the junior engineers to his knees so my friend was only too happy to roll-up his sleeves and get his hands dirty (so to speak). And before you say it, yes, we do talk about other things but invariably at one point or another we end up chatting about all things simulation.

Anyway, he started explaining the problem to me. I won’t go into the details but he was talking about the difficulty in meshing the model. I sat there quietly as he told me about how he fixed the mesh to get the project back on schedule. After about 15 minutes of listening, I couldn’t contain myself anymore so I blurted out why aren’t you using the automatic mesher? Our software can handle that problem without requiring all these steps. I finished that statement and pretty much everyone sitting at the table physically ducked – prepared for the verbal onslaught. You see, mentioning brand names is a no-no because a few of my friends are from the industry and use competing products. So brand name discussions can become rather heated philosophical type discussions similar to the goodness of apple pie and the flag… Thankfully he was in a good mood so he responded with a rather amused giggle and I took that as a cue to change the subject.

The evening progressed and we were several topics removed from our discussion but I still couldn’t shake the thought. Yes this is a competitive market but surely no one can be expected to deal with technology that is too difficult to use. I know meshing is a black art. But it seems that there’s this belief “in order for us to solve complex engineering problems we need difficult to use software otherwise it won’t be good enough” is so ingrained in the collective psyche that it has become a rule. The longer we believe it, the more it weaves itself into the fabric of our belief system and the more we guard it. And once something becomes a belief or habit, it’s very hard to change it… well for me it does.

Simulation results on an LED with FloEFD for Creo.

Simulation results on an LED with FloEFD for Creo created with Virtual Lab.

A few years back we published a whitepaper called the 5 Myths of CFD specifically to address these types of beliefs. During the past six years of invalidating those myths we have discovered a few more! If you’re interested in reading about those newly discovered myths, then I’d like to encourage you to download and read the 10 Myths of Computational Fluid Dynamics  And if you’d like to debunk some of those myths for yourself then give FloEFD on the cloud a try. We call it the Virtual Lab and it lets you try FloEFD for Creo for free (just follow this link for more information).   You don’t need to download anything. All you need is an open mind, your myth busting hat and a desire to see what the excitement about CAD-centric CFD is all about.
Until next time,
Nazita

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6 May, 2014

The first time I came to London I was 5 years old. I’m pretty sure my parents dragged me to all the usual touristy places but I only remember disjointed fragments.

Feeding ducks in Hyde Park.

Sitting on the jump seat in a black cab.

Holding on to my dad with one hand and holding on for dear life to my new bestie, a rather large light-brown teddy bear, while standing outside Hamleys. Come to think of it we must have been quite a sight because I remember hordes of people smiling down at me and me proudly beaming my goofy smile back at them.

And strangely enough I remember the streetlights. Unlike the ones back home, these lights were orange and gave the foggy sky a rather eerie glow. When I returned to London in my 20s, I remember smiling to myself upon seeing the streetlights again. Their orange glow brought back a flood of happy childhood memories.

London on a clear summer night. Image courtesy of N Saye. All rights reserved.

London on a clear summer night. Image courtesy of N Saye. All rights reserved.

Alas my beloved orange lights are disappearing from London streets. They are being replaced with new more powerful and energy efficient LED lights.  According to a recent article from LEDs Magazine, by 2016, the city of London plans on upgrading 35,000 streetlights to LED luminaires. This project will cost the city about £11 million and is expected to reduce emissions by 9700 metric tons annually and save the city £1.85 million. While it’ll take the city a few years to pay back the investment, the ROI is clear.

Since LEDs are temperature sensitive, thermal management of LED streetlights can be quite challenging as illustrated in a recent article titled Simulation Enables Optimum LED Street Light Heatsink Design in LEDs Magazine. That’s why BUCK d.o.o., a company specializing in architectural and medical lighting, uses CFD simulation software. While working on a new streetlight design alongside Panasonic Serbia, the team used FloEFD to answer questions such as

  • How much airflow is needed to take the heat away at 55°C ambient temperature from a 140W high-power LED module?
  • In what way can they provide the optimum heat dissipation surface?
  • Where do the hottest air pockets form?

The article answered all of these questions and more. And as icing on the cake, this luminaire design was deemed so “cool” that it won the Good Design Award from the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design. To read the article  please follow this link.

As a tech junkie I celebrate new technology. But I can’t help feel a tinge of sadness whenever I see another orange streetlight disappear. You see the light right outside my house was replaced with an LED one without much ceremony a few months ago. While I now feel much safer walking home late at night, I miss laying in bed catching a glimpse of the orange light through my bedroom blinds hoping to remember some long forgotten childhood memory.
Until next time,
Nazita

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11 March, 2014

I’d like to think of myself as a pretty competent person – throw a problem at me, I’ll find a solution for it. Case in point. Last week I noticed some cracks suddenly appearing in the kitchen walls and ceiling. The kitchen sits directly underneath the bathroom. The cracks looked like they were appearing where the bathtub was located and they felt damp. Doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to deduce this one… the sealant around the bathtub in the shower was failing.

I don’t know about your patch of the woods but finding anyone to fix anything in Surrey is pretty much impossible. All the construction folks are busy fixing the damage wreaked by the recent floods. I could ask a friend but felt rather embarrassed to admit that I had never done this – there was always a guy in my life who attended to such matters … my father, a landlord, or ex-husband. Being an emancipated woman I decided to face this challenge head on. After all, I have mastered the art of dispatching spiders without screaming (well, it’s now more of a whimper but at least my neighbors don’t call to make sure I’m ok), topping the pressure in my tires and even assembling lots and lots of flat-packed furniture on my own without killing myself in the process. Yes, I can… that’s my motto. So like any self-respecting newbie I started my research. After watching a few videos on youtube I headed out to my local DIY store. I hunted the various bits and bobs and reserved last Saturday for my latest adventure.

After breakfast on Saturday morning I put on my “working” clothes and tucked straight in. After a bit of to’ing and fro’ing and a whole lot of chin scratching I managed to seal around the bathtub.  It doesn’t look perfect and I’m sure the next time I’ll do a much better job of it but in the process of doing the task I realized that I needed a master list of things to do when sealing a bathtub … a how to guide. For example, the back of a wet soapy teaspoon is much more effective for smoothing out the sealant than the gadget I bought for £3 ($5). Or fill the bathtub with water and then seal around it. This way the sealant will be at its most expanded state but do not, and I repeat, do not sit down to get a better angle on smoothing out the sealant while standing in the bath tub because you’ll get wet. Yup rookie error but you betcha I won’t make that mistake again.

Now wouldn’t it be nice if someone were to create a series of practical “how to guides” for engineers? Well, search no more because (drum roll), our panel of experts have just published a series of whitepapers to help guide engineers new to the world of thermal simulation (or even not so new but needing a refresher). Please feel free to download and read any of these free whitepapers:

11 Top Tips for Energy-Efficient Data Center Design and Operation… A High-Level ‘How To’ Guide
12 Key Considerations in Enclosure Thermal Design – a High-Level “How to” Guide
10 Tips for Streamlining PCB Thermal Design – a High-Level “How to Guide”
10 Tips for Predicting Component Temperatures – a High-Level “How to Guide” 

Mentor Mechanical solutions apply at every stage. Image courtesy of Mentor Graphics. All rights reserved.

Mentor Mechanical solutions apply at every stage. Image courtesy of Mentor Graphics. All rights reserved.

The titles are all pretty self-explanatory and yes I could have listed them in numerical order but at Mentor Mechanical we advocate an enclosure down to the component-level simulation philosophy and if you really think about it a data center is just a massive enclosure hence the topsy turvy listing. So you see, there is method to my madness … not all the time but most of the time :-)

I really hope you enjoy reading these papers and I’d like to thank our panel of experts who wrote and contributed to these whitepapers – Drs Parry, Bornoff, Clark and Manning as well as Mr Blackmore. Talk about a thermal simulation dream team!
Until next time,

Nazita

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3 January, 2014

Sharon, one of my friends, jokingly (but with a sinister tone in her voice) calls me the List Maker. And it’s true. Somehow making lists and crossing out items makes me feel a bit more in control of my life where the only theme is constant change. On the first day of my Christmas vacation I made a list of everything that I needed to do around the house… stuff that is time-consuming and requires more than one rainy weekend to do (because we all know good weather weekends are for hiking). One of those items was painting the bathroom. Now I don’t know if you’ve ever attempted to do any painting on your own (or decorating as it’s referred to here) but there’s a lot of prep work that needs to be done such as filling in cracks and masking the woodwork. Doing prep work doesn’t require a lot of brain power so my brain was left to wander about the year that was and the year that was coming.

Learning from the school of life. Image courtesy of Microsoft Clipart. All rights reserved.

2013 was a year of learning for me. Some of the lessons helped me grow as a professional, some as an individual but most of them made me realize that even at my age I’m still work in progress.

My top 5 lessons learned:

Flying is magic which is why it’s safe to keep your electronics on when landing in the States but not so safe when landing in Europe
A couple of years ago I wrote a post about how electronic gadgets were the nemesis of avionics. We have all asked the same question. Why do we need to turn off our gadgets during take-off and landing but it’s ok to keep them on while we are flying? No one has really offered a plausible explanation unless you count the one offered by the poor flight attendant on a video clip titled “why can’t you use phones on planes”. The basic premise of the video is that the flight attendant asks people on the plane to put their stuff away in preparation for take-off. A passenger asks why and that starts a flood of questions by other passengers. The questions continue to poke more holes in the flight attendant’s answers until the she loses it and says that no one knows why and that flying is magic. Well, that explains it! I’ve always liked the magic theory but flying back to the UK in mid-December I learned that –

  • It’s safe to keep your electronic devices on at all times while flying and landing in the US; but
  • It’s not safe to keep your electronic devices on when landing in the UK.

Lesson learned – I’m pretty sure that Europe doesn’t subscribe to the “magic” theory … it’s just that their aviation rules haven’t quite synchronized with their American counterparts yet. But sometimes it takes far too long for rules and regulations to catch up with science.

Simple doesn’t mean dumb
No siree… in fact, sometimes, it’s even more elegant than the most complicated ideas. I’m referring to the Moser lamp which is a mini skylight conceived from a plastic bottle, bleach, water, resin and a lot of sunshine.  The Moser lamp has brought light into many homes for little or no cost. Lesson learned – not all good ideas need to be complicated – sometimes all you need is a bit of engineering know-how which is why when the zombie apocalypse happens, I want to hang out with the engineers :-)

CFD can prove or disprove urban myths
There are a lot of viral videos making the rounds… some silly and some that make you go hmm. When it started getting cold here a rather interesting video went viral. The video proclaimed that you can heat a room with 4 tea-lights and two ordinary flower pots. Thanks to the ever increasing cost of heating a home in England, who wouldn’t want to know whether that’s true? After all, you can buy a handful of tea-lights for only a couple of pounds and everyone has got flower pots lurking in the shed. Thankfully one of my colleagues, Robin Bornoff, decided to look at this video with an engineer’s eye. And he wrote a series of great blog posts about heating your room for 8 pence a day (or 13 cents depending on the exchange rate). Considering that I live in a drafty old Victorian I was more than curious to see whether it was possible to do this. If you have come across the video too, then you should read Robin’s series by following this link.  Lesson learned – CFD isn’t just for testing super complicated products. It can even be used to check out urban myths!

CFD can help you with your cooking
Yup. Cooking. It’s been a few years since I’ve had to cook a whole turkey but I couldn’t avoid it this year. On Boxing Day (December 26th) a couple of my American friends who are also here without family came over so we could celebrate Christmas together (we couldn’t actually celebrate on Christmas because trains and buses weren’t running). Anyway, it’s a good thing that I had read Travis Mikjaniec’s blog on how to cook the best turkey well before putting the “beast” in the oven. The two major sins of cooking turkey are: not cooking the bird enough which could make you seriously sick or overcooking it which would mean that your guests would politely have to drown their turkey in copious amounts of gravy to make it semi-edible. Lesson learned – Based on Travis’ findings, I made sure to turn the turkey around a couple of times to allow for the uneven air flow in the oven. I ended up with a very tasty dinner (they even had seconds) and I didn’t even have to drive my friends to the emergency room. Unfortunately I still need to work on the “quantity” portion of the puzzle as I still have so much turkey left over that I’ll be eating turkey well into January and perhaps even February.

I’m not as tall as I think I am
I know, hard to believe. On a good day and when my hair behaves I’m just a nudge under 5’6 (when my hair doesn’t behave I clear 5’8 easy ;-)). On this cold December day when I started to paint the bathroom I realized that my 5’6 frame on a regular-sized ladder is just not tall enough to paint the edges where the ceiling meets the walls. I tried a few tricks but short of buying a very tall ladder and risking an injury I’m not well suited to the task. The realization that I’m too short was a bitter pill to swallow because I’ve painted so many rooms in my day. It seems that even though my previous houses had high ceilings, the ceilings in this house are freakishly high. Once reality set in, I continued to paint the areas that I could and decided to leave the rest to the professionals.  Lesson learned –I need to focus on what I do best and rely on others to deliver the rest. This is especially funny because it’s what I do at work every day so why am I not doing it in my personal life? (facepalm).

I learned a lot of other lessons but I think I’ll stop here because there’s a lot more to learn. I have the privilege of working with some very talented folks both inside and outside Mentor and I truly enjoy learning new things from them. So I wish you all a fantastic 2014 – another year to learn more from one another and to practice what we learned in the years past.

Until next time,
Nazita


13 November, 2013

In this day and age where products come and go in a flash it is a great honor to be involved with something that has successfully passed several major milestones.
Twenty-five years ago, Flomerics opened its doors and FloTHERM moved from being a glimmer in the minds of Drs. Rosten and Thatchell to something real. The team of idealists had very definite thoughts when they sat down to create FloTHERM. They wanted to create something special. And that they did.

Almost a year after setting up the company, the team shipped FloTHERM to its customers. True to the founding fathers’ design, FloTHERM was the first in many areas:

•    the first CFD solution developed specifically for electronics thermal design
•    the first CFD solution that used non-CFD terms such as vents
•    the first CFD solution that could be used by thermal design engineers as opposed to expert analysts

And 24 years on, FloTHERM is still the de facto standard in the industry for electronics cooling simulation.

We started celebrating all things FloTHERM with a team lunch a couple of months ago. During our get-together we heard some great stories about the early days and our product managers shared some tidbits of information about the future. I don’t want to spill any beans but it is safe to say that while many folks would be happy to rest on their laurels, this team is not. Far from it. And I’m really proud to call these guys my colleagues (even though they can be very mischievous and pull my leg from time to time but I’m getting wise to their ways :-)).

The original gang reunited (image courtesy of Mentor Graphics).

After lunch our attention turned to a gorgeous cake (see below) which was baked and decorated by yet another colleague – Natasha. She had spent hours looking at pictures of PCB boards in order to create realistic decorations.  It contained 3 kilos (about 6 pounds) of chocolate and I won’t lie. Each slice was a divine piece of chocolaty goodness. As with all things “technical” the guys at my table started discussing the design of the cake. The discussion moved to Facebook later that day and ended when one person asked about the thermal impedance of the cake. After exchanging a few thoughts another person decided to look into it. I only hope that he is working on answering that question as we live and breathe because it would make for a brilliant blog post.

Now that's a PCB design I can sink my teeth into (image courtesy of Mentor Graphics)

The celebrations kicked off a whole slew of FloTHERM related activities – everything from user meetings around the world to flotherm25.com a site dedicated to celebrating the world of electronics, electronics cooling and of course FloTHERM. The site is full of goodies including videos and blog posts. There is something for everyone… whether you’ve been using FloTHERM from day 1 or you’re a newbie to the world of electronics cooling.  Personally I really enjoyed the snazzy pictures of the founders and the original development team – I tell ya, these guys haven’t aged a day but thankfully they have updated their style … well somewhat updated ;-).

And last but not least, the latest issue of the Engineering Edge includes an electronics related supplement named Electronics Thermal Simulation and Test: Past, Present and Future It really is a fascinating read.

I hope you enjoy visiting the site and reading the supplement as much as I did.

Until next time.
Nazita

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25 October, 2013

You all know how gadget-mad I am, right? Well guess what’s got my senses buzzing today?

A mobile phone that you can build yourself from various components … something akin to a Lego phone and it’s called the Phoneblok.

A Dutch designer, Dave Hakkens, came up with the idea after he wanted to replace a single broken component in his mobile phone. When he was told that he couldn’t just replace the broken bit but had to replace a whole module he thought why? And that simple question quickly led him to think of the concept of a modular phone – a phone where you select the processing power, the size of the camera, the display…

How cool is that?

But (and there is always a big but) there may be a glitch. A lot of issues would have to be dealt with such as cost of manufacturing, the size of the enclosure, the weight of the phone and of course cooling! After all, how would Joe Average know where to put everything? I guess one way of making sure all goes to plan is that the assembly instructions would look something like an IKEA manual and they would include advice for best layout to optimize cooling (because as we all know heat is the nemesis of electronics). This blueprint would ideally be created after a few rounds of CFD simulations to account for the various design permutations. Mind you, this is probably not that big a deal for you folks but the rest of us mortals will definitely need advice if this thing is to go mainstream.

Anyway, if you’d like to read more about Phonebloks then please follow this link.  And Mr. Hakkens if you’re reading my blog post, then feel free to check our library of reference material for optimizing electronics cooling here – I am sure you’ll find lots of helpful material. In the meantime, I’m dreaming of what my future phone might look like.
Until next time,
Nazita

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3 October, 2013

I recently read an article about the Soviet space shuttle program which I found absolutely fascinating. We all know about the rivalry between the Americans and the Russians during the cold war so nothing new there. But what I found fascinating was how the Russians made a series of assumptions about the American space shuttle program based on information gleamed from various sources. And unfortunately, they made a couple of wrong assumptions that ultimately led to the demise of their program. It is a gripping story of engineering, technology and politics in action and if you’d like to read it in its entirety please follow this link.

After I finished reading the article, I found myself deep in thought over what I had just read. How many times do I make assumptions about my projects? This must be what you guys go through on a daily basis. While I don’t have a crystal ball for communications, you have plenty of tools that can help you fill in the proverbial design holes. From CAD to FEA and CFD you have a veritable cornucopia of tools to help you minimize chances of making the wrong design assumptions.  And from the looks of it a large cross section of you use this technology religiously.

Which leads me to this – LifeCycle Insights and Engineering.com are conducting a survey and I would like to invite you to take part in it. The survey aims to understand the frequency and type of simulation used during concept design, detailed design and testing. It takes less than 15 minutes to complete. So would you be kind enough to grab a cup of coffee (or tea) and take part in the survey by clicking here? Ooh and it looks like you’ll get a free copy of the Engineering Manager’s Survival Guide eBook as a thank you for participating! I wonder if it applies to the world of marketing too :-)

Until next time,
Nazita

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13 August, 2013

My last blog post about trash cans on London streets turned out to be quite controversial.

It wasn’t my blog post that caused a furor but I guess a few other folks in London were on the same wavelength as me when they came across these bins. In case you missed my last post, here’s a quick summary. A company in England has tricked out a whole network of trash cans in London with LED displays that serve advertising. But these bins were also collecting and tracking information on folks who were walking by. This market demographic could then be used to sell more advertising to companies trying to reach their perfect consumer.

Anyway, yesterday the City of London, which is a corporation by the way (that was a new one to me), asked the company behind these trash cans to stop tracking people. The BBC has done a wonderful job of covering the news so if you’d like to read the story firsthand here’s a link.  I guess we’re not quite ready for a brave new world after all.

While I was wondering whether I should update my previous blog post or not, I came across another story that also dealt with lighting but from a completely different angle.  So I thought a lighting inspired post would be very appropriate indeed.

Image courtesy of Microsoft clipart. All rights reserved.

And that brings me to Mr. Alfredo Moser, a Brazilian mechanic. Mr. Moser has come up with a low tech method of lighting his house during the day due to chronic power outages in his neighborhood. The “Moser lamp” is a mini skylight and consists of a plastic bottle, some bleach, water, a bit of polyester resin and a lot of sunlight. The solution is so elegant in its simplicity that one has no option but to sit back and marvel. And the beautiful thing is that Mr. Moser has shared his technique with everyone for … free. Apparently 140,000 homes in the Philippines are using the Moser lamp and 15 countries have adopted it as well. And it certainly looks like this is just the beginning. If you haven’t come across the Moser lamp, then you really need to read this article.

When I finished reading the article I sat there with a smile. Now that is not only a green idea but it packs in quite a good return on investment (ROI) too! It goes to show you that often the best ideas are the simplest ones. All you need is inspiration.

If only all ideas were this simple. But for the ones that are not it’s a good thing that we’ve got tools such as CFD to help engineers dream up some wonderfully complicated products.

Here’s to all the dreamers and engineers of the world lighting our way to brighter futures.
Until next time,
Nazita

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