Published August 21, 2019

Changing the CFD Conference Game with the CONVERGE UC

Sibendu Som

Director of the Center for Advanced Propulsion and Power and the AI Applications Initiative

As the 2019 CONVERGE User Conference in New Orleans approaches, I’ve been thinking about the past five years of CONVERGE events. Let me take you back to the first CONVERGE User Conference. It was September 2014 in Madison, Wisconsin, and I was one of the first speakers. I talked about two-phase flows and the spray modeling we were doing at Argonne National Laboratory. Many of the people in the audience didn’t know you could do the kinds of calculations in CONVERGE that we were doing. Take needle wobble, for example. At the time, people didn’t know that you could not only move the needle up and down, but you could actually simulate it wobbling. After my talk, we had many interesting discussions with the other attendees. We made connections with international companies that we otherwise would not have had the chance to meet, and we formed collaborations with some of those companies that are still ongoing today.

At Argonne National Laboratory, I lead a team of more than 20 researchers, all of them focused on simulating either piston engines or gas turbines using high-performance computing. Our goal is to improve the predictive capability of piston engine and gas turbine simulations, and we do a lot of our work using CONVERGE. We develop physics-based models that we couple with CONVERGE to gain deeper insights from our simulations.

We routinely attend and present our work at conferences like SAE World Congress and ASME, and what really sets the CONVERGE User Conference apart is the focus of the event—it’s dedicated towards the people doing simulation work with piston engines, gas turbines, and other real-world applications. The user conference is the go-to place where we can meet all of the people doing 3D CFD simulations, so it’s a fantastic networking opportunity. We get to speak to people from academia and industry and learn about their research needs—understand what their pain points are, what their bottlenecks are, where the physics is not predictive enough. Then we take that information back to Argonne, and it helps us focus our research. 

Apart from the networking, the CONVERGE User Conference is also a great venue for presenting. My team has presented at the CONVERGE conferences on a wide variety of topics, including lean blow-out in gas turbine combustors, advanced ignition systems, co-optimization of engines and fuels, predicting cycle-to-cycle variation, machine learning for design optimizations, and modeling turbulent combustion in compression ignition and spark ignition engines. The attendees are engaged and highly technical, so you get direct, focused feedback on your work that can help you find solutions to challenges you may be encountering or give ideas for future studies.

The presenters themselves take the conference seriously. The quality of the presentations and the work presented is excellent. If you’ve never attended a CONVERGE User Conference before, my advice to you is to try to be a sponge. Bring your notebooks, bring your laptops, and take as many notes as you can. The amount of useful information you will gain from this conference is enormous and more relevant than other conferences you may attend, since this event is tailored for a specific audience. The CONVERGE User Conference also draws speakers from all over the world, which provides a unique opportunity to hear about the challenges that automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), for example, face in other countries, which are different challenges than those in the United States. Listening to their presentations and getting access to those speakers has been very helpful for us. And since there are plenty of opportunities for networking, you can interact with the speakers at the conference and connect with them later on if you have further questions.

Overall, the CONVERGE User Conference is a great opportunity for presenting, learning, and networking. This is a conference where you will gain a lot of useful knowledge, meet many interesting people, and have some fun at the evening networking events. If you haven’t yet come to a CONVERGE User Conference—I highly recommend making this year your first.

Interested in learning more about the CONVERGE User Conference? Check out our website for details and registration!

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