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The May edition of the Women in CFD series features Sarah Hope Swaim, a software engineer for the Cadence Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) team. As a recent university graduate, she is the youngest woman featured so far in this series. Moreover, she is also new to the world of CFD and is exploring these new grounds with infinite enthusiasm. Read our conversation below to learn more about Sarah Hope, her aspirations, and a few thoughts on succeeding in a new field and making an inspirational career.
Tell us something about yourself.
I grew up in Dallas, Texas, where I lived in the same house for eighteen years until moving to Arizona for college. I have always loved math, and when I was 15, I took my first programming class. Soon after, during my AP Computer Science class, I fell in love with writing code. I quickly knew I wanted to be a programmer and decided on computer science as my college major. My only hesitation was that I would be giving up my creative side. However, while researching where to pursue my degree, I discovered that Arizona State University (ASU)’s President, Michael M. Crow, emphasizes the importance of developing entrepreneurial, outcome-oriented, and creative engineers. Under his leadership, the new School for the Future of Innovation in Society was introduced, which I chose as my minor. The courses focus on instilling social consciousness and an innovative mindset in each student, ensuring they are ready to excel in a technical work environment while working towards a future for everyone.
Sarah Hope with ASU's President Michael M. Crow at her graduation ceremony in May 2022.
When and how did you learn about CFD?
After my junior year in college, I interned at Cadence and worked on the Fidelity Pointwise software. To be honest, it was very random. I applied to many companies, and Cadence was one of them. They responded, I was interviewed, and I started working there. I enjoyed the work culture and the people—they were so welcoming, helpful, and passionate about CFD, and I also liked my work—writing code (something I always enjoy!). I got to write the CAE exporter and grid importer code for a Fidelity Pointwise plugin and even fixed a bug in the main source code. That’s exactly when I was exposed to and learned about CFD.
Which languages do you often code in?
Throughout my numerous years of programming courses, I have learned many languages, including Java, C/C++, Python, and Swift. I learned Java during my first four years of programming and thought I would never want to learn any other language, but today I never use it. My favorite is C++, which I use the most here at Cadence while working on Fidelity Pointwise. For occasional scripting, I use Python or Glyph, the scripting language for Fidelity Pointwise, which is an extension of the Tcl programming language.
Sarah Hope writing code at her desk in the Cadence Fort Worth office.
What would you be doing if you were not a developer in the Cadence CFD team?
If I weren't working as a software engineer for the Cadence CFD team, I would be writing software for another company. But I would love to be an event planner if I wasn't writing software. I always enjoy putting together small social events or parties for my friends and family and seeing their appreciation for the experiences I created for them.
Sarah Hope's 500th workout class at Studio 6 Fitness (where she used to work during high school).
What are your thoughts about women in engineering?
I would say there are a lot of changes happening with more women getting into engineering, but the numbers are still low. It seems like it will take another five decades or more to achieve a 1:1 male-to-female ratio.
At ASU, we had an issue with women students dropping out of computer science during their freshman year. Studies have shown that the gender imbalance in STEM is not a biological issue but a cultural one. I believe representation is important; seeing women in engineering roles keeps younger women from feeling out of place in engineering-related classes and careers. I was fortunate to have many women professors, which greatly inspired me, knowing that the most experienced person in the room was a woman.
Change is inevitable—the world and the society we live in are constantly changing, especially with respect to technological advances. Women deserve to be a part of that progress and those conversations. Whatever product is being made or service is being provided should have a group of people working on it who accurately represent society. So, with half of our society comprised of women, having that perspective in engineering is necessary if you want your product to reach its full potential.
Connect with Sarah Hope Swaim on LinkedIn to learn more about Cadence CFD solutions as they evolve!
Request a demo today to experience and get hands-on with the Cadence Fidelity CFD software.