The NextSim interview series aims to introduce readers to the people behind our research. Eusebio Valero, a numerical mathematics expert from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM), leads NextSim´s Work Package 3 (Algorithms for data management, visualisation and modelling). Learn more about his thoughts and motivations regarding the project.
What is your position at UPM and what is your research area?
I am leading the numerical mathematics research group (NUMATH), at the School of Aerospace at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. We are a medium size group, of about 10 senior researchers and 20 students (10 PhD). We have two main research lines: the application of numerical methods for the solution of partial differential equations, where we are now focused on high order probably stable discontinuous galerkin methods, and analysis and stability of fluid flows, including feature detection and data analysis.
You are leading the work package on creating algorithms for data management, visualisation and modelling. Could you explain why this is important for NextSim?
One of the main objectives of NextSim is the development of the new simulation code for the aeronautical industry, making efficient use of current computing platforms. The objectives of the project are quite challenging and include the validation of results in a series of relevant and aeronautical test cases. These kinds of simulations produce huge amount of data with a lot of information that is difficult to manage. Much of those data are generally wasted, and only integral values, such as lift or drag, and some visualisations are generally extracted from them. It is urgent to develop efficient and scalable numerical algorithms able to manage and obtain information from those data. This is the main objective of Work Package 3. Many of those algorithms have already been developed by the scientific community but their implementation on large computing facilities is not trivial. The data management will make possible to obtain useful and very valuable information for visualisation, modelling or optimisation and it is more and more necessary for engineering design.
What would you have done if you were not a researcher?
I have almost 30 years of professional experience. Most of them in research, and although I started working as an aerodynamic engineer in Airbus and my PhD was not in CFD, I am really happy now with what I am doing, the projects I am involved and the national/international collaborations I have. In any case, I have been always very enthusiastic about sports, mainly athletics, so I probably would have dedicated my life to be an athletics trainer, hahah!
Have you encountered any challenges in pursuing your research career?
Of course, everything is a challenge in research. The first and the more important is the problem you want to solve. You never know if you finally will reach the solution or you will spend a couple of years with no answers. The second (in my opinion) is the lack of funding and the time you spend looking for it. Research is a collaborative work and needs resources. Now, this is a very competitive field, with rate of success many times below 10%. Although it is also an excellent exercise, it takes too much time preparing and organising proposals that you never know if they will be granted. Spain is also a particular country, with excellent researchers but still with low investment in research with makes our activities even harder.
How is your experience with NextSim so far?
Excellent. The project is running at good pace. The communication between the partners is improving every day and activities are moving in the right direction. It is a long project so we don’t expect to have relevant results until the last year of the project. Also, the coordination of the project is excellent and quite professional. This is important, because it is a non-visible hard work but critical for a good evolution of NextSim.
What do you hope NextSim can achieve beyond the life of the project?
I think NextSim is only the beginning. We want to develop the new generation of simulation codes for industrial design, with numerical accuracy and computational capabilities not seen before. This is not a problem of “only” three years. Computational infrastructures will evolve and the simulations codes must be adapted. So, this is a continuous challenge, where NextSim aims to set the first stone for a further evolution and improvements beyond.
What advice would you give young researchers who would like to follow in your footsteps?
Research is very interesting, absorbing and not very well paid work. But you will be involved in problems that open your mind and make you think, in an international and very competitive environment. Many times frustrating but when you get the solution you are happy (at least for a minute). Once you start it is difficult to give up. So, be enthusiastic and follow your motivation and dreams.