Views from Intelligent Light
Roger Rintala

XDBview used as STEM teaching aid for middle schoolers

Considered by many to be the critical element in preparing students to succeed in the modern economy, STEM education is important to you and your children.


Darrin Stephens of Applied CCM, uses FieldView XDBview to introduce students to basic aerodynamics comnepts.

Fueling knowledge development and creativity – Using FieldView XDBview, Darrin Stephens of Applied CCM, introduces students to basic aerodynamics concepts.

When his daughter and her classmates wanted to understand aerodynamics, Dr. Darrin Stephens of Applied CCM knew he could bring examples from his work to help.  Dr. Stephens is a FieldView user and is accustomed to showing clients and colleagues characteristics of fluid flows he’s been studying using computational fluid dynamics (CFD).  Using CFD simulation and FieldView gave him a powerful way to help students see what they can’t directly observe, a problem engineers face all the time.



The students are participating in a human powered vehicle competition.  They recognized that as their vehicle moved faster, the affects of airflow could limit the speed they could attain and maintain.  They asked Dr. Stephens to help them understand some basic aerodynamic concepts.  He responded by bringing real-life CFD solutions to the classroom and sharing those results with XDBview.

“As part of my lesson I used FieldView XDBview (latest version is fantastic by the way!) with the result from my previous V8 super car simulations to help explain & demonstrate drag, induced drag, streamlines etc.” – Darrin Stephens, Applied CCM



Air is a unseen force acting on objects in motion. CFD allows students and engineers alike to see airflows and effects they cannot directly observe.

XDBview allowed Dr. Stephens to show moving airflow and explain the impact on a racecar, effects that are similar to what the students would need to consider.  Having used FieldView to post-process his unsteady OpenFOAM simulation solutions,  he created lightweight XDB files and used XDBview to interactively explore the flow solution and explain aerodynamics to the students.  Because the XDBview session was fully interactive, they were free to ask questions and see new representations of the flow field.


Fluid flows and aerodynamics surround us but students need some training to look for them and to consider them when pursuing projects like their human powered vehicles.  Demonstrations such as Dr. Stephens’ shared help students see what they normally can’t, understand new phenomena and send them out of class better prepared to become skilled observers of fluid mechanics when they can see its effects during their daily lives.


After the demonstration, the students asked for videos they could continue to watch and share with their parents.  The videos on this page show the CFD simulation results from a flow study of a Holden VE Commodore V8 supercar.


Darrin Stephens is a founder and managing director of Applied CCM, an engineering software development company with offices in Australia and Canada.


Related post: Applied CCM uses OpenFOAM and FieldView for Unsteady Turbulent Flows


Roger Rintala

Applied CCM uses OpenFOAM and FieldView for Unsteady Turbulent Flows

Recently posted videos created by Dr. Darrin Stephens of Applied CCM provide an example of how FieldView is used in the day to day work of engineers.  Applied CCM is an engineering software development company with deep expertise in applying OpenFOAM to study fluid mechanics for its clients.  Dr. Stephens uses FieldView to ensure productivity and to clearly present results to his clients.



These videos (#1 flow over entire car, #2 directly behind car) show basic airflow characteristics around a Holden VE Commodore V8 supercar design. This is part of a set of case studies Applied CCM developed for an SAE World Congress paper in 2014.


Rear Iso View with Streamlines

The vehicle’s surface has been colored by the local pressure results (−3000 to 0 m2/s−2) while streamlines show airflow characteristics. FieldView image courtesy of Applied CCM Pty Ltd.

A good video sequence can be a powerful way to show key flow characteristics and patterns but the views and content are fixed when a movie is made.  Applied CCM went a step further and used XDBview to interactively explore datasets.  XDBview users freely change views, look at different scalar values, apply thresholds or add/remove display elements like streamlines.  Having this capability in a free viewer using compact datasets allows Dr. Stephens to share insights with clients or give individuals the ability to freely explore and interact with complex data on their own.


FieldView XDB files are compact, accurate and provide the ability to interrogate even large, time-dependent data on individual computers regardless of location or connectivity.  Dr. Stephens also used XDBview to introduce middle school students to basic aerodynamic behavior  using the Holden VE Commodore V8 supercar models shown in this article.

Read more >

Earl Duque

AIAA AVIATION 2015 – Working with large data of today and tomorrow

Turbo image/animation from AIAA Aviation 2015

This turbine blade simulation result was awarded “Most Quantitatively Descriptive Flow Visualization Animation” in the Visualization Showcase at AIAA Aviation 2015. The achromatic colormap enhances the presentation of the numerical differences.
–click image for animation

I attended the AVIATION 2015 meeting in Dallas last month. I had a great time meeting with colleagues, listening in on great papers and presenting my own work. The week started with my presentation for the CFD Visualization Showcase session where I was awarded the “Most Quantitatively Descriptive Flow Visualization Animation” which highlighted the animations and images from my paper “EPIC – An Extract Plug-In Components Toolkit for In situ Data Extracts Architecture“. The paper was presented at the “Post-Processing and Model Reduction” session.


In both the animations and the paper, I made use of FieldView’s achromatic colormaps. I’ve found that the “Achromatic Vision 1″ colormap, easily selected from the new colormap selector in the colormap tab (no more hunting around for user defined colormaps!!!) does a much better job at highlighting flow features that I didn’t see using the default Spectrum colormaps. I use the Achromatic Vision 1 almost exclusively now for all my visualizations.


In addition, I took part in a panel discussion “The Path to CFD Visualization in 2030″ where we discussed our ideas regarding “Facing the Knowledge Extraction and Visualization Challenges of the NASA CFD 2030 Vision”.  During this panel, I described how CFD analysts require the ability to simultaneously compute both very large simulations and large numbers of simulations. Code verification/validation and uncertainty quantification studies also drive the need for unsteady solutions consisting of  billions of grid points and large ensembles of non-deterministic solutions. These types of studies are enabled by: In situ data processing where the solver directly outputs FieldView surface extracts,  FieldView XDB workflow and the use of XDBview.


In order to extract actionable knowledge and create visualizations of these extensive datasets, my Applied Research Group is developing new capabilities for CFDers through our DOE sponsored research with the VisIt code and the Air Force Research Lab EPISODE project (the paper I presented at AVIATION2015).  In the coming months, I will be working with the other panelists on a paper that we’ll present at SciTech2016.


XDBs files and XDBview were critical to this work.


Learn more about in-situ post-processing with XDB workflows:

Earl Duque

Unraveling the Mysteries of Turbulence Transport in a Wind Farm

A joint paper with Prof. Sven Schmitz was just issued in the ”Wind Turbine 2015″ special issue of the online journal Energies.


This paper entitled “Unraveling the Mysteries of Turbulence Transport in a Wind Farm” is co-authored with Pankaj K. Jha 1, Earl P. N. Duque 2, Jessica L. Bashioum 1 and Sven Schmitz 1,*


For this project, we used FieldView XDB workflows to enable the investigation of “mysteries involved in the recovery process of the wake momentum deficit, downstream of utility-scale wind turbines in the atmosphere.”  The “High-resolution surface data extracts provide new insight into the complex recovery process of the wake momentum deficit governed by turbulence transport phenomena. “

Roger Rintala

Reduce Data Three Orders of Magnitude while Retaining Full Fidelity


Work presented at the AHS 70th Annual Forum demonstrates that extracts are invaluable for both data reduction and quantitative analysis.


In their paper, “Turbulence Transport Phenomena in the Wakes of Wind Turbines”, Jha et al, show that data reduced by three orders of magnitude still retains full fidelity enabling quantitative analysis not possible before.


See the movie created for this project

Review the paper