Interested in a Career in CFD Consulting?

Not too long ago, someone asked me a question about making the transition to a CFD consulting position. If you are already using CFD as a regular part of your work, maybe you are thinking about the same thing. Is it for you? How do you go about finding a position with a CFD consultancy? Obviously, there are no hard and fast answers to these questions, because every case is different, but here are some thoughts based on my own experience.

In my case , I worked for several years on the development and support of the Wind-US CFD solver . In the course of that work, I became acquainted with many users of the code. So, when my wife decided she couldn't tolerate Middle Tennessee anymore, I had some contacts I could turn to. One of them ended up becoming my boss, as I moved over to his consulting company .

I have found working as a consultant to be extremely rewarding. I get to work on interesting projects, I can work out of my own home office, and I have a lot of flexibility in terms of my schedule. The financial rewards are also greater, which never hurts. On the other hand, without a big company to provide funds when my contracts run out, my job is much more dependent on my own ability to drum up business. The risks come with the rewards.

One important factor which made this possible for me was a fairly large research contract from the U.S. Air Force, which I was able to carry over to my new position. This provided some financial padding while I began the process of building up a customer base for my services.

Every consulting company is different in the way they handle hiring a new employee. Some are able to provide funding to cover new hires for a certain amount of time before they are expected to attract their own contracts. Others already have a surplus of work, and you don't really need to bring in any more unless you really want to. Still others expect you to provide for yourself from the start.

If you do get a CFD consulting job, my recommendation is that, regardless of which type of company has hired you, try to bring in your own contracts. When you are a “source” of funds for a firm, you will have much more control over your own destiny—and more responsibility.

So how about you? If you want to work for a CFD consultancy, how can you prepare yourself for the transition? One thing I can recommend is: technical publications and presentations. If you can get your name and (quality) work out in front of enough people at conferences and workshops, you will develop the positive reputation that is life or death for a consultant.

In the case of my company, we are almost always looking for partners when we put in proposals (we're too small to do it all ourselves). So, for example, if you were to start a dialog with us, and over time we became comfortable with the idea of working together, we might be able to identify a research topic of interest to a government agency or private corporation which we could approach for funds.

Take an inventory of your skills. Then look at the various research topic announcements from appropriate government agencies. Do you have what it takes to be able to work on any of the topics? Even if you can't work the whole task by yourself, are there people with complementary skills who might work as your partner? You may decide that you need to update some old skills or acquire some new ones before becoming a consultant.

In addition, if you are already working as a CFD practitioner, you probably have contacts—perhaps more than you realize—that you could network with to locate consulting work. To help you find that sort of work, you should have some demonstration cases that you can present to prospective customers to show your capabilities.

Obviously I can't do more than scratch the surface of this subject here. Contact me if you have more questions about cfd consulting .

Ready to move on? You can return to the cfd tips and tricks page or head over to the Innovative CFD home page to browse the other topics.

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