My planning for the upcoming summer vacation

0. Yes, I have deleted my previous post. As I took a second look at it, I thought it was a bit too on-the-fly, and perhaps not worth keeping. (It was about these Lok Sabha elections!) Though I have deleted it, if the need be, I will write a better post touching on the same topic, including my further thoughts about the matter.

For the time being, let me get back to engineering.

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As this academic term nears its end, I have already begun planning for things to do this summer vacation. A few things are on the top of my mind. Let me jot down these, so that I could look back a couple of months hence and see how I did on those matters (or, how the matters turned out anyway).

1. Journal papers on my past research: I need to convert at least one or two of my conference papers into journal papers. This is really on the top of the list because I haven’t had a journal publication during my Ph.D. The reason for that, in turn, wasn’t that my research wasn’t worth publishing in journals. In fact, not to immediately publish in journals was a deliberate choice, which was decided after discussion with my guide, the late Prof. S. R. Kajale.

The reason was twofold: (i) Journal papers tend to undergo a more thorough peer-review, and even if not, in any case, are longer. Since I am naturally so talkative (in a way almost carefree), I was afraid whether I might not end up giving out too many details if it is a journal paper, and at that time (mid-naughties) as now, IPR was (and is) an important consideration. (ii) I didn’t have very good library (eJournals) access back then. I was jobless, would take trips to IIT Bombay for literature review, and both money and the time to go through eJournals was very severely limited (a few hours on one or two days at the most, at a time).

The situation has changed since. I now do have a job in hand, and in fact, I now work in Mumbai. So, more frequent trips to the IIT Bombay library for a longer period of literature review is an easier possibility.

Anyway, the above two reasons are not independent; they are inter-related. As it turns out, I learnt after publishing my conference papers, that an approach very close to what I had taken, had already been developed to much more extent than I was aware of, back then. The method in question is: LBM (the lattice Boltzmann method.) LBM, as some of you might know, has since my PhD times been commercialized, with at least two commercial software packages and at least one Open Source + consulting model software having come on the scene. (And, thus, it turns out that the prudence in withholding details was right—there was commercial value to those ideas, even if it turns out that I was not the first to think of them. (Of course, since I honestly can say that I developed my approach fully independently, there happen to be a few (relatively minor) ideas which I had, and which still haven’t been published.))

Another thing. I have derived greater confidence about the new observation that I had made regarding the diffusion equation. This could come about only after a better literature search.

All in all, I think I am ready to write my journal paper on the diffusion equation now.

2. Journal papers on some more recent ideas: Since my PhD (2009), I also had a few extended abstracts accepted at international conferences (some 4 papers in 3 different conferences), but for some reason or the other, I had to withdraw. (Lack of time, or lack of money to complete the experimental part.) I could begin directly writing journal papers on these ideas now.

3. Short-term vacation courses: I am also proposing to conduct a couple of short-term courses on FEM and CFD.

3.1 On FEM: By now, I have taught introductory courses on FEM 4 times: twice to UG, once to PG, and once to practising engineers. I have enjoyed teaching my latest offering this semester. Since the syllabus at the University of Mumbai was different, there was an opportunity for me to look at FEM from a different perspective than what I had taken. I think I could now synthesize my understanding in a (really) improved (if not “new”) short-term course.

So, I am planning to offer a short-term course of about 7–10 days duration. The audience could be any graduate engineer: (i) PG students, (ii) working engineers, (iii) junior faculty from engineering colleges.

3.2 A novel course on CFD: Another course which I have never taught but which I am deeply interested in, is, of course, CFD. So, I am planning to offer a special vacation-time and short-term course on that topic, too.

Ideally, I would like to keep this course more for those who are interested in deeper insights, via self-study. If there are enough people interested in such a course, then I would rather like to keep the number of topics few, and the focus more on the fundamentals.

Of course, fewer topics doesn’t mean less material. Indeed, in many ways, my planned CFD short-term course would have much more material than a traditional one.

I would be ready cover all three methods side by side: FDM, FVM, and FEM—provided the audience already knows FEM in the context of the usual linear structural (or self-adjoint) kind of problems.

Similarly, in my course, I would like to include at least conceptual introductions to what are considered to be “advanced” topics like moving boundary problems, multiphase (VOF) problems, etc.

Thus, my planned CFD course wouldn’t be tied to (or, actually, be subservient to the needs of) only the aerodynamics problems of the aerospace department. It could easily apply to issues like free-surface flows and cavity-filling issues (if not also droplet formation/interaction—which could perhaps be covered, though I am not sure. (It would have been easier to cover if LBM were to be a part of the course offering, but I guess for an introductory/first course that is also short-term, introducing all the main continuum-based methods of FDM, FVM and FEM is a challenge by itself. No need to complicate it further by also introducing a particles-based approaches like LBM/SPH.)

4. More about the above short-term vacation courses:

4.1 My current view is that for a one week course, 4 hours of class-room teaching in the morning and 1–2 hours of hands on sessions in the afternoon for 3–4 days, will be enough.

4.2. The fees will be reasonable, by today’s market standards (though not just a few hundred rupees, if that’s what I understand by the word “reasonable.”). Since I do have a professor’s job, I am not looking at these courses as my primary career. The fees mainly have to cover the course organization expenses, most of which are beyond my control. On my part, an honorarium sort of payment also would be OK by me—strictly because, to repeat, I do have a continuing job that does pay me now.  That’s why. And, the course-fees do stand to drop if the audience is bigger, though I plan not to take more than 25–30 students per course.

4.3. So there. Drop me a line if you are from Mumbai and are interested in attending one of these courses this summer vacation.

Yet, some final clarifications still are due:

4.4 The courses will not follow the syllabus of any university. Drop me a line or follow this blog if you wish to know the details of the course contents. But, essentially, these are not your usual vacation-time coaching classes.

(There! Right there I kill my entire potential market of student-customers.)

4.5 No software package will at all be covered. If you wish to learn, say, ANSYS, or Fluent, there are numerous vendors out there. For OpenFOAM, there is a group in IIT Bombay, and a company in Pune. Contact them directly. (And no, I don’t even know who are better, or just more reputable, among them. (As far as I am concerned neither ANSYS nor Fluent nor OpenFOAM nor ESI gave me a job even if I was competent, when I was most desparate. Now, I couldn’t care less for them bastards. (And, in a class-room, I usually am far more cultured and civilized than expressions of that sort.))) In my course, I may use some programs written by me in C++ or Python or so. (No, Java continues to be a “no” as far as I am concerned!) But no training on software packages as such.

(There! Right there I kill my entire potential market of working engineers looking for in-house company trainings!)

Alright. More, later. [Of course, as in the recent past, my blogging will continue to remain rather infrequent. But what I mean to say here is that once the ideas of the short-term courses take a more concrete form, I will sure write another blog post to give you those details.]

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A Song I Like:
(Hindi) “chandaa ki kiranon se liptee hawaayen”
Singer: Kishore Kumar
Music: Chitragupt
Lyrics: Verma Malik



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