Recently, SIMULIA introduced the 2020 SIMULIA Champions, the inaugural team of brand ambassadors whose expertise and passion position them to advance the future of simulation technology. In this series of blogs, we will be introducing some of our individual SIMULIA Champions, finding out more about their history – and future – with the technology.
Nikesh Mahendran is a Senior CAE Analyst at Dunton, United Kingdom – headquarters of Ford of Britain. He is a Chartered Engineer (CEng MIMechE). He works on the Suspension/Chassis CAE team doing in-house Sub Frame design, responsible for Strength /Durability analysis, Equivalent and Dynamic Stiffness analysis for which he mainly uses Abaqus. He is also responsible for optimizing the component-Topology/Bead/Shape using Tosca software. His work includes Sub frame design for the Ford Transit, the best-selling commercial vehicle in the UK and International Van of the year 2020.
While working toward a Master of Science in Automotive Engineering at Coventry University, Mahendran handled a project for a UK automotive company that involved Model analysis on a transmission casing. The successful project led to a position as a Test Engineer, but Mahendran’s true interest lay in CAE, so in 2005 he started working at Ford. He began in the Engine CAE department, carrying out Thermal Mechanical Fatigue analysis on Engine components – for both gasoline and diesel engines. He saw great success in this position, with the gasoline engine he worked on winning several Engine of the Year awards. In 2017, he worked on exhaust CAE for a brief time before joining the Suspension CAE team in 2018.
Throughout his career, Mahendran has maintained a passion for engineering, regardless of the details of his job.
“I think engineering seems like the best way to combine the fundamental logical and analytical aspects of both physics and mathematics,” he says.
Mahendran says it is satisfying to analyze the components of a system, understand its weak links, and come up with a new design that ultimately ends up as part of a customer’s vehicle. His greatest challenge came when he was working with engine components. There were cracks detected at the exhaust port septum in a high cycle engine fatigue test. The septum areas were complex, irregular in shape and under high thermal mechanical loads. Experience based design was not sufficient enough for solving the fatigue crack problems. Therefore, shape optimization had to be applied to achieve the targets. Here he used Tosca for shape optimization. One of the obstacles of applying shape optimization is the time of calculation iterations. Although modern computers are powerful, the cylinder head models are bigger and more complex; the project had the potential to take months. He suggested using a sub-modeling technique. Mahendran used Tosca shape optimizer and incorporated it with Abaqus and FEMFAT. The aim of the shape optimization was to improve the safety factor at the critical location (exhaust port septum). This technique helped in reducing the stresses by 35% and hence improving the safety factor. Using the sub-modeling technique made it possible to complete the analysis in a single day.
That particular part had a history of repeatedly cracking, Mahendran says, despite the best efforts of the team, and management wanted a solution as soon as possible. His creative way of looking at the problem not only made management happy but saved the team a great deal of work by fixing the issue for good.
Mahendran embraces the challenges that come with his work – in fact, they are what drive and inspire him daily.
“I would assume every day is challenging, and that keeps me going,” he says.
He describes himself as having a practical way of working and solving problems, and this approach has certainly paid off; Mahendran has won several awards, including the Power Train Engineering Achievement Award in 2013 and 2016, the Power Train Engineering Recognition Award in 2015 and the Award of Engineering Excellence in 2012.
When he is not at work, Mahendran enjoys the sport of cricket and is trained as a Stage 2 umpire.
SIMULIA is pleased to welcome Nikesh Mahendran into the 2020 SIMULIA Champions program and excited to continue working with him in the future. Stay tuned to the blog to learn more about our other 2020 SIMULIA Champions.
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