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In the ninth edition of the Women in CFD series, we are excited to feature Sainan Lu, lead product engineer for the Cadence Celsius Thermal and Celsius EC Solver. Her remarkable career journey in the field of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) is an inspiration to many women in engineering. What sets Sainan apart is her unwavering determination to achieve professional success while prioritizing her family life. Learn more about Sainan and her journey towards a career in CFD.
Tell us something about yourself.
I was born in China and completed my primary and secondary education and my undergraduate studies there. I developed a deep passion for mathematics and physics during my early years, which grew stronger during my school days. Excelling in these subjects gave me confidence and motivated me to pursue a career rooted in scientific disciplines. After completing my undergraduate studies in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) at the Changsha University of Science and Technology in China, I pursued a master's degree in mechanical engineering at the University of California, Riverside. This decision was transformational for me, and it helped me dive deeper into CFD, broadening my knowledge through research and studies.
Afterward, I decided to step away from academia and attend a bible school temporarily. This private training program focused on faith and character development, and it was a pivotal experience in my personal growth. It provided me with a sense of community and a deeper understanding of the purpose of human life. It honed my character, eventually allowing me to shoulder responsibility and collaborate effectively with others. I discovered my life partner during this period and embarked on the marriage journey.
Around a year later, I decided to pursue a PhD in mechanical engineering, a choice made even more significant because I was expecting a child. Just a month after the birth of my baby, I commenced my PhD program, facing the challenge of juggling academic pursuits and parenthood. Those years stand out in my memory as a time of tremendous stress, where I learned the art of time management and multitasking. I vividly recall attending classes and completing assignments while caring for my child. These experiences instilled a deep gratitude and taught me to confront adversity, tackle problems, and persevere through the most demanding circumstances.
Can you share your journey towards starting a career in CFD?
Throughout my academic journey, I was interested in fluid dynamics. The foundation laid during my undergraduate years was a bedrock for my ongoing exploration of this fascinating field. It ignited a profound passion for understanding how physics manifests itself within fluids.
During my PhD program, I was involved in CFD studies in greater depth and detail. At this point, I developed a strong passion for the subject matter. I became captivated by the prospect of using computational tools and software to solve real-world problems related to fluid dynamics. As I embarked on the journey of writing my code to tackle basic fluid dynamics problems, the sense of accomplishment I felt was immeasurable. Watching my research projects come to life automatically through these software tools, I realized that the struggles in learning the knowledge were undeniably worthwhile. This rollercoaster of challenges and triumphs motivated me to seek opportunities in the industry where I could immerse myself in solving real-world problems using state-of-the-art technologies.
Can you list the various CFD tools you have used, and which is your favorite?
I have experience using COMSOL Multiphysics, Ansys Fluent, Celsius Thermal Solver, and Celsius EC Solver. Of all these tools, Celsius EC Solver is my favorite because of its intelligent model building, easy-to-use, fully automatic, object-oriented mesh, and robust and stable solver.
If you were not working in the field of CFD, what profession or activity would you pursue instead?
My alternate career path would have led me to academia as a university professor. I gained first-hand teaching experience as an adjunct faculty member at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. And I was fortunate to be presented with the prospect of becoming a full-time professor at the institution.
What are some of your hobbies or activities outside of work?
I enjoy adding variety to my workout routine by incorporating different dance styles and yoga. Currently, my husband and I are learning Spanish, and we try to practice the language every day. I take piano lessons in my spare time and try to practice as often as possible. Also, spending quality time with my family is always my top priority.
Can you share your perspective on the role of women in engineering from your professional experience?
Challenges undoubtedly accompany the role of women in engineering. Some of these challenges are self-imposed. It’s not uncommon for some women to doubt their abilities or question whether engineering suits them. However, such a mindset can hinder pursuing engineering and achieving success. It is crucial to recognize that we can excel in this field. We are poised to make exceptional contributions.
As women in engineering, we possess unique qualities that can significantly benefit our teams and the field. The skills acquired while caring for our children and tending to our families are highly advantageous to our engineering teams. These abilities encompass multitasking, patience, organization and structure, collaboration, teamwork, and strong communication skills. All these skills are assets, enhancing our work groups' effectiveness.
In addition, our varied skill sets and unique perspectives enhance the engineering field in ways that are greatly needed in industry. I believe that this has been recognized and encouraged among various industries. It's important to acknowledge that we have what it takes to excel and overcome any challenges and biases that may come our way.
For those interested in pursuing a career in CFD, below are a few helpful tips from Sainan Lu.
To learn more about the Cadence CFD products as they evolve, connect with Sainan Lu.
If you would like to try Cadence Fidelity CFD for your different applications, request a demo today!