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LIFD Early Career Researcher Spotlight: Girindra Ramgobin


Thesis title: Multiscale methods in multidisciplinary design optimisation of thermal management systems for hydrogen fuel cell powered aircraft

School/ Faculty: CDT in Fluid Dynamics, School of Computing

Supervisors: Dr Greg de Boer (Mech), Prof Harvey Thompson (Mech), Dr. Amirul Khan (Civil) and Dr Martin Muir (Airbus Research and Technology)

Tell us a bit about yourself:

Currently, I’m in my second year of the CDT program, which is the first year of my PhD. I completed my undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering in Cape Town, South Africa. After that, I spent three years working as a graduate engineer at a consulting firm in my home country of Mauritius. During this time, I collaborated with multidisciplinary teams on various infrastructural projects, ranging from water treatment plants to cruise passenger and airport terminals. While in my final year of undergrad, I developed a keen interest in computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and had a desire to pursue postgraduate studies related to aerospace. That’s why I chose to join the CDT program—it fulfilled those aspirations.

Outside of academics and work, I’m an avid trail runner and tennis player. I’m also a travel enthusiast, always planning my next adventure.

What is your research about?

In novel aircraft designs utilising hydrogen fuel, heat exchangers play a crucial role not only in heat rejection but also in supporting part of the  airframe’s load. Simulating their overall performance and optimising their design can however be costly due to the large scale and involvement of multiple disciplines (thermofluids, aerodynamics, and structural mechanics). My project focuses on reducing the scale of simulations to a single periodic block of the heat exchanger, while allowing for the exchange of boundary conditions between these unit blocks. This is to speed up the simulations required so multiple arrangement and configuration of the heat exchangers can be explored.

I primarily use open-source tools for both optimisation and analysis,  which means I mostly code in Python. Additionally, I benefit from the guidance of an industrial supervisor from Airbus, who offers valuable insights into the project.

What did you wish you knew before starting a PhD?

It is a common misconception that pursuing a PhD only develops your research skills, in reality it encompasses much more. It helps you develop effective time management, in setting realistic goals, and navigating various expectations. The key is to make the most of the experience, enjoying the learning process. I have personally discovered a lot about my productivity habits and acquired a range of skills, including effective communication with supervisors, industry professionals, or colleagues. It’s also important to realise that everyone has their own formulas for success, what works for others may not work for you, and vice versa.

What are your plans for the future?

With the transferable skills I’m gaining so far from this project—coding, mathematical modelling, and optimisation—I believe I can apply them to a wide range of industries, especially in a Research and Development context. I’m open to exploring new industries as I enjoy learning and discovering new things.

In the longer term, I plan on creating my own consulting company or come back to academia (or maybe both!).