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Interview with Richard Bardwell of Sharc Ltd.
Posted Fri November 10, 2006 @11:37AM
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News Richard Bardwell started Sharc Ltd. in 1997 with Dr. Mark Gallagher. Their mission is to promote and develop automated CFD. They have satisfied a major part of their mission by developing Harpoon, the extreme mesher that turns the days and long hours usually required to create a useful mesh into an automatic process that creates high-quality meshes in minutes. Based in Manchester, Sharc is also the distributor for CEIís full line of products in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

We talked to Richard to find out a bit more about the man behind the mesher.

How did you become involved in simulation?
I started straight out of the University of Manchester, beginning in the loads and dynamics department at BAE Systems. I used simple NASTRAN models and aero calcs to predict flutter on the Airbus A340. I then moved to GEC, where I was involved in the Towed Decoy on the Eurofighter project. After that, I worked on the Brimstone missile project for the Harrier and Tornado. From there it was to Rover/BMW, where I helped introduce CFD, working on the external aerodynamics of 4x4 vehicles. My final stop before Sharc was with Boeing in Seattle, where I did flutter calcs on the Boeing 737 NG (Next Generation).


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What was your impetus for starting Sharc?
CFD and meshing were very tedious processes at the time, and Mark and I thought we could help customers achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness. It was a bit of a gamble borne out of frustration about the way things were being done.

How did you and Mark get together?
Mark was a year ahead of me at the University of Manchester, but I didnít know him then. We met at Rover and soon after we met Johannes Grawe of Genias, CEIís German distributor. Johannes introduced us to EnSight and that meeting got us thinking about starting our own business.

Why did you develop Harpoon?
We decided to write Harpoon because there was no mesher available that would always produce a good mesh. It was a long process to produce a mesh and at the end of it, you sometimes didnít get a useable result. The only people who could produce good meshes were experts, and even they failed too often. Harpoon helps non-experts create high-quality, reliable meshes in minutes with little or no effort.

Who is using Harpoon and for what types of applications?
Customers are using Harpoon in a variety of ways Ė to design inkjet printers, tooth implants, Formula 1 cars, boilers, mixers, Americaís Cup yachts, and drug delivery systems, just to name a few. Automotive companies are major customers, using Harpoon to mesh water jackets, power trains, HVAC systems, and the outer shells of cars for aerodynamic studies. The meshes are imported directly into popular solvers, then into EnSight for visualization.

In your opinion, what is the biggest area of progress in simulation over the last five years or so?
Automation and ease of use have made CFD more accessible to non-experts. Itís much easier now to do aerodynamic studies and visualize the results.

What do you see as the important developments ahead in the next five years?
I think there will be progress on many fronts at the same time, enabled by grid computing and parallelization and continued automation of meshing, solver and visualization software. It is going to get to the point where you wonít have to think about what you are doing. You wonít have to worry about creating meshing. You wonít have to think about setting up a problem for a CFD or FEA solver; they will be one and the same. There will be a convergence that will mean a lot less effort for users to obtain meaningful results.

Do you have any interesting or funny anecdotes from your experience in the simulation business?
One of the most bizarre negotiations Iíve ever seen was the head of CFD for a Formula 1 team arm-wrestling a sales person from a leading solver vendor for additional licenses. The Formula 1 engineer won, much to the dismay of the sales person.

What do you do when youíre not working?
I play a little tennis, and would do more sailing if I had the time. I like music, everything from jazz (Stan Getz) to classical to Avril Lavigne type stuff.

Anything you would like to say to your colleagues in the simulation world?
Donít just follow what others have done for years. Try something new Ė you never know where it might take you!

Sharc gang
The Sharc gang pauses for some fun in Orlando. Richard Bardwell is in the middle, flanked by Mark Gallagher (left) and Paul Gilfrin, Sharcís account manager.

 

Boeing F-18C
A Harpoon mesh on the surface of a Boeing F-18C aircraft containing 6.5 million total cells (4.6 million hexas).

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