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The Women in CFD series highlights the career expedition of women in computational fluid dynamics (CFD). For this article, I spoke with Shi Yee Lim, Principle Product Engineer at Cadence, to learn a little about herself, her career journey as a product engineer, and a few tips to the women in or interested in CFD out there!
Tell us something about yourself.
I was born in Muar, Malaysia, and I currently live in Brussels. Growing up in Malaysia significantly impacted who I am today and has helped me appreciate different cultures and traditions. In primary school, we spoke Malay, Chinese Mandarin/ Tamil, and English; and once I moved to Brussels, I also learned French, which makes me multilingual. During my free hours, I usually indulge in some light reading, am always open to good music, and sing along whenever possible. I am also a Hodophile – a person who loves to travel.
How did your education prepare you for a career in CFD?
When choosing an area of study for my undergraduate degree, I was aware of a lack of skilled engineers in my country. Our schoolteachers also encouraged us to take up engineering, so I applied for engineering studies.
I received my bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia. Soon after graduating, I landed a job at Dyson Sdn Bhd where I learned a lot about airflow. Back then, in Malaysia, we were still using experimental measurements to validate the design. However, my colleagues in the company headquarters were using CFD tools, and I learned about CFD from them through our frequent interactions.
With my team’s encouragement, I began working on my master’s degree. I got my degree in computational mechanics in Europe within the framework of a European Union scholarship. This introduced me to Finite Element Analysis (FEA) and CFD. As part of the scholarship, I completed my master’s degree at two universities – Swansea University and the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya. I am grateful for this opportunity to pursue my studies in Europe. During those two challenging years, I became technically adept in my area of study and met wonderful people with whom I am still in touch.
How did you land a job at Cadence?
While pursuing my master’s, I found an internship at NUMECA (now Cadence). After my internship, I applied for a vacancy in the company and got the job! Today, I am glad I took up the position, as it has helped me mold my career in the computational world.
Currently, I am in the product engineering team at Cadence, working closely with the product development engineers, ensuring that we have the highest quality product for our customers. My motto at work is that we should do our best even in the smallest of things because every small step counts.
Tell us about the different CFD projects or applications you have worked on.
My first few years with NUMECA (now Cadence) were as a quality engineer. Later, I moved to the application engineering team and had more opportunities to connect with customers via customer support, software evaluations, or benchmarking. Benchmarking requires talking to customers, understanding their needs, and meeting strict and sometimes challenging deadlines.
In recent years, I worked on benchmarks for several major automotive OEMs. These benchmarks mainly aimed to demonstrate our software capabilities in meshing and external aerodynamics on a complete car. When I was working on a benchmark for Toyota a few years ago, we were given the geometry for the CH-R hybrid car model. I still remember working on this car’s digital model for weeks. Parallelly, I would walk past my neighbor’s real-life CH-R parked in front of our apartment. Seeing how well my work connected with the real world was stimulating.
Sealing surfaces using Autoseal to create watertight geometry for Toyota car model.
What are your thoughts on the engineering gender gap, and is there much more to it than the number game?
There were not many female students in the mechanical engineering department at university, which I think may have something to do with the stereotypes around females not wanting to work with heavy machines and tools or harsh working environments like oil rigs, shipyards, etc. However, this perception is now changing as we see more female role models worldwide, like successful female astronauts.
Shi Yee Lim on a team lunch with her colleagues.
I believe that as more sectors of the engineering world move towards digitization, it will become easier for women to opt for these jobs. We must overcome current-day stereotypes and remind ourselves that our jobs align with our everyday lives. This will undoubtedly break many barriers, probably not just gender barriers. In my case, I consider that the master’s scholarship after my first working experience was a positive breakthrough in my life.
What would you be doing if not working in CFD?
If I were not working in CFD, I probably would have come back to Malaysia and would have followed the model of the Malaysian politician, Yeo Bee Yin, who, after graduating abroad, served as the Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate change for a few years. So, I would definitely try to serve my country in any way possible, however small it may be (probably not as a politician).
Shi Yee’s two cents for women looking to make a career in CFD
To learn more about Cadence CFD technologies as they evolve, connect with Shi Yee Lim on LinkedIn.
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