Being a powertrain simulation engineer
Automotive industry is a pretty competitive industry where each single Euro and each second are of a great value for the company. Indeed, to be more profitable than the competitors, it is needed to design a product in a cheaper way and design it faster. Those are the main drivers for the fast growing usage of simulation within automotive related companies.
Usage of simulation enables to:
- Help designing new systems, parts or functions
- Reduce prototypes and tests cost
- Identify earlier the technical issues the development
Simulation can be divided in 2 main categories, 3D simulation and 0D/1D simulation. 3D simulation includes all the space dimensions (X, Y, Z) and is often used to perform crash tests simulation (through Finite Element Analysis), combustion simulation, fluid flow simulation (Computational Fluid dynamics)… 3D simulation software that can be mentioned are Fluent, Radioss, IFP-C3D and many others.
0D/1D simulation uses time dimension only (0D) or time and single axis dimension (1D). In both cases, software like AMESim, GT Power, Wave, etc. are often used in the automotive industry to design a thermal system, a powertrain, a fuel injection system…
Questions to Cesar Miguel*, Combustion & Simulation engineer at Volvo Group Trucks Technology
Could you tell us what is your job about?
Cesar Miguel: I do mainly 1D simulation of engine performance, air management and other systems such as after-treatment or injectors. I am also in charge of optimization analysis and tools, and robustness studies.
What are the abilities and knowledge you’re using the most in your daily work?
C.M.: Deep engine behavior knowledge is a must in my line of work, simulation can sometimes be very tricky and without a good perspective on the results and the real-life engine, one can very easily be misled. Apart from that, my background in electronics and automatic systems helps me modeling dynamic systems. Although nowadays with software like GT-Power coding is no longer required, my experience with Matlab (C, VBA, and many other languages) comes in handy, especially for all the optimization tasks, statistical analysis and complex mathematical problems.
What are the needed qualities for this job?
C.M.: There is of course the basic “engineer skill set”: rigor, down to earth behavior (always keeping in mind real-life results), work autonomy, relational skills to interact with other colleagues, clients or suppliers… Then it is always welcome to have a good analytical behavior, openness solving complex problems, patience especially in Advanced Engineering projects where results might come very late…
What kind of software do you use frequently?
C.M.: GT-Power, Office pack, Matlab & Simulink, ATI VISION, Morphee & Osiris (when following test campaigns) and Maple.
What is the split between technical work and management work in your daily activities?
C.M.: It is hard to give a clear split. The core of the job is technical since in the end I am the one building the model, performing the simulation, analyzing the results and presenting. But you can’t have one without the other: no one can work alone sitting on the top of an ivory tower nowadays; you always need a management side to interact with the project (as customer) and other departments (usually as suppliers of data).
What are the interactions with other departments of the group?
C.M.: We are in the core of the group activities and therefore we interact with a lot of departments. We are at the same time suppliers of models for departments such as Control Systems or Complete Powertrain, and suppliers of final results for all the others (Performance team, Fuel injection team, After-treatment team…).
*Cesar Miguel, Combustion & Simulation engineer at Volvo GTT
Cesar Miguel has started in Volvo Company in 2010 as an IFP School apprentice. Before that, he got a double diploma at Universidad Poltécnica de Valencia and at Ecole Centrale de Paris in electronic and automatic systems engineering.