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Advice for entering a CAE field

 

JP
 JP
(@jp)
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Hi everyone,

I was wondering if any of you in industry would have words of advice for a soon-to-be-grad in an unfortunate predicament. I have been working predominantly with Ls-Dyna for the last couple of years at school. Unfortunately, I have come to feel like the work I do is not nearly on par with the standards that will be expected of me in industry, especially when it comes to meshing. Which I know is vague, but this whole situation makes me pretty sad so I'd rather not identify anymore. 

So a big thing I have been wondering is if extracurricular things like personal FEA projects or attending workshops carry any weight or if it is more "academia or bust" when it comes to showing experience. Also, more specifically I am curious about automotive / crash testing CAE. 

To anyone that takes the time to read this, thank you!  


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ipetcatbutts
(@ipetcatbutts)
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Hello JP,

 

As every individual is unique and walk their own path, I will be speaking solely from my experience.

 

For my first full time job, I had a long and tiresome hiring process. Almost every company I applied to as a structural analysis engineer had me show up with a suit and talk to an HR person about my hobbies, my grades, if I had failed any classes, even my highschool grades etc. etc. except this one company. They, instead, had me solve an engineering test, do analytical and numerical solutions of a simple process and bug-fix on the spot. They didn't ask nearly anything about my academic past. They just wanted to see if I could do what they wanted. Easy to say that was the hardest application I had and I was fairly certain I had not gotten the job. But they called me 2 weeks later and accepted me.

 

I have many friends who made their way to the FEA scene starting from a succesful interview with HR bu


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ipetcatbutts
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but from what I have seen, I can tell you that academical success and interest in FEA does not always come together. I believe you are good to go if you have one of them going on for you. 

 

I would say you shouldn't be sad. Specially regarding meshes. I have seen excellent meshes of incredibly complex structures that I would hang in my house as paintings if they didn't have NDA's but I also have seen terrible meshes that look like old Lara Croft games. The spectrum is wide and I'm sure you can find a place to fit in.

 

I have to add that extra projects, workshops and even Linkedin posts regarding FEA carry loads of weight. Show that you have interest!


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Negative Volume
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Posted by: @ipetcatbutts

I have seen excellent meshes of incredibly complex structures that I would hang in my house as paintings if they didn't have NDA's but I also have seen terrible meshes that look like old Lara Croft games.

@ipetcatbutts This is a hilarious but true statement. 

@jp I would say it is entirely possible to get a job in the automotive field with just skills/experience and not academic pedigree. FEA (and meshing especially) definitely has a niche of engineers who only work on meshing and constructing models. Those are more like a skill-based specialty job, similar to welding, where your degree/GPA might not necessarily have as much sway in getting the job or not. However, the challenge as always is getting to the point of the interview. Most of the time a lot of AI filtering is done with job applications so if you don't meet those cutoffs then it's hard to get that interview unless you email someone directly or know somebody to pass your resume along. But if you can get to that interview and prove that you have the skills for the job, then you definitely have a great shot. Especially right now, the automotive industry is quickly moving to be even more CAE-focused so there are tons of people hiring.

I'd focus on researching what types of skills and software proficiencies companies are looking for and trying to hone those on your own time if possible. Most software has a student edition that you can learn on for free. The other big thing, at least for me, is someone's ability to learn and be flexible. 

"The only skill that will be important in the 21st century is the skill of learning new skills. Everything else will become obsolete over time." 

You said you are a "soon to be grad". What degree are you graduating with?

 


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JP
 JP
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@ipetcatbutts  @negativevolume Thank you so much for the replies! I am glad to hear about the projects and workshops because that was likely going to be my plan moving forward. There were some webinars from Altair recently that I stopped into and they really felt the same as watching a Youtube tutorial. Not that there was anything wrong with that, the content was still good. It felt weird to think I might want to add something like that to a resume lol. Hopefully there will be some more involved options popping up that I could try.    

And to negativevolume,  I feel like your comments are things I always hoped for, but have never gotten to hear from someone exactly from the field, so thank you for taking the time. And MS Mechanical Eng is the plan.  

If you don't mind me asking, what software might you recommend? Other than PrePost + Dyna I have only really worked on meshing and simulation scripting using other programs.  

And seriously, thank you both again for your responses! 

 

 


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Negative Volume
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Posted by: @jp

If you don't mind me asking, what software might you recommend? Other than PrePost + Dyna I have only really worked on meshing and simulation scripting using other programs.  

PrePost is great for learning LS-Dyna but not many people in the field use it. Most use Oasys Primer, and some use any combination of Hyperworks products like Hypermesh, Hyperview, Hypergraph, and then Beta CAE has quite a few software that are becoming more and more common like Ansa and MetaPost. 

tbh, learning LS-Dyna and showing some familiarity with software in the field like these mentioned will generally be sufficient. Most companies will require you to go through software training anyways since everyone has their own toolkit. Again, this leads into "show the ability to learn" that I mentioned before


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JP
 JP
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@negativevolume Interesting, that is good to hear! Hypermesh has been my go-to so far so I'm glad at least that is used. I suppose the theory of LsDyna is the more important half anyway, so not too much harm done.

I will certainly be checking out Primer also. I imagine they have an academic trial of sorts which I can start to learn even if companies usually provide training. Thank you again, I really appreciate the replies!  

 

  


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geardyn.1
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your statement that companies use primer / hyperworks tools ONLY is partially correct. while many automobile companies use mentioned tools in addition to Ls-prepost, there are many other domains ( like Aerospace , Bio engineering , Marine engineering , heavy industries ) that predominantly use Ls-prepost.  

Also for you other part of the query :

For Analysis : learning Python integrated with Abaqus is a powerful combination( demand is soaring in recent times). 

For Meshing : ICEM CFD , ANSA is also recommend 

This post was modified 7 months ago by geardyn.1

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Negative Volume
(@negativevolume)
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@geardyn-1 Well yes, people still use PrePost. But I said not many people do in the automotive field. That was specific because they said that’s the field they were primarily interested in.


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JP
 JP
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Sounds like I still can't go wrong by following the keep learning narrative. These responses have gotten me thinking more about conveying software knowledge.

What types of strategies have you all used/heard of other people using to express expertise for the more artistic sides of CAE? I have always felt like the lines on a resume that say: "Experience: Hypermesh" could mean anything from a masterpiece to Lara's 1996 glass cutters that ipetcatbutts mentioned. 

I guess what I am trying to ask is if anyone has found it useful to talk about specific meshing tools or strategies you have used within a program or might there be a benefit to something like a portfolio? 

@geardyn-1 If you don't mind me asking, I am also curious about other ways industry uses scripting. At the moment I only use Matlab for slightly editing/running simulations and plotting basic response curves like acceleration and such. Are there any other neat things you use it for? I have been seeing more and more of the data-driven model development content being created, but it is within commercial interfaces usually. 


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