A few weeks later: looking back at the preCICE Workshop 2020
“Fantastic organisation throughout. Great efforts. Loved to meet people in different fields and also in similar fields.”
“Thanks for the great workshop in the true sense of this word!”
“All in all nice workshop!”
One month has now passed since the first (amazing) preCICE Workshop. The videos of the talks have been uploaded on our YouTube channel, the massive feedback and ideas from the World Café have been organized, preCICE v2.0.1 has been released, the travel grants have been refunded, and the results of the feedback form have given us a clear message that we should repeat the workshop in 2021. What is missing now? Ah, indeed, this post!
In total 42 (yes, this is precise) participants from institutions across 8 countries registered for the workshop, which featured an introductory hands-on course, 1-minute participant introductions, talks from users and developers, a World-Café, hands-on user support sessions (with experts or peer-to-peer), and multiple social events. More experiments we did were to offer vegetarian-only lunch (did anyone notice this or miss the meat?) and to ask the participants to avoid flying short distances (feasible in Germany). Definitely a lot of fun for our first try, and definitely many lessons learned!
The introductory course
This was also our first attempt to design a structured preCICE course. In this introductory module we coupled two conceptually very simple and short Python codes, so that everyone could follow, regardless of their programming experience or application field. We also managed to briefly discuss useful tools, such as the config visualizer, the watchpoints, and the VTK exporting. Another lesson learned: providing a Virtual Machine image with everything installed can make a crucial difference for some users, but we still need to figure out a few corner cases.
We don’t have a recording of this course, but we plan to expand it and offer it again in various contexts in the future, including the (now virtual) OpenFOAM Workshop 2020. If you are interested in integrating preCICE as part of a lecture in your institute (or you have any other training ideas), please let us know.
Aparently, preCICE is being used in much more than classical Fluid-Structure Interaction. The library itself does not know what kind of problem it is being used for, and features such as multi-coupling were prominent in the talks. We enjoyed talks on porous media flows (Alexander Jaust, Univ. Stuttgart), FSI with particle flow (Alban Rousset, Univ. Luxembourg), volume coupling for aeroacoustics (Nitish Arya, Indian Inst. of Technology), and even crystal growth (Kaspars Dadzis, Leibniz Institute for Crystal Growth). Jessica Mariño (TU Darmstadt) presented common pitfalls when designing preCICE adapters. Developer talks were also there: Frédéric Simonis (TUM) presented the latest updates and future plans in preCICE, while Benjamin Rüth (TUM) presented the status of the upcoming time interpolation feature. Wanting to expand our horizons, we also invited Prof. Claus-Dieter Munz (Univ. Stuttgart) to give a longer overview talk on partitioned Multi-Physics simulations.
How can one compress hours of feedback discussion into just one hour? With a world-café! In our implementation, the participants were shuffled in small groups every 10 minutes, walking from table to table, building up on the previous discussion on that table, going deeper or exploring new paths. The participants were taking notes on the table cloth, and a (fixed) moderator at each table was presenting the state of the discussion at the beginning of each round.
The tables we offered were “community”, “usability”, “training”, “future”, “marketing”, and “this workshop”. We learnt a lot from our community, we have collected a long list of ideas, and we are now discussing our next steps with these in mind.
The user support sessions
An idea originally in the direction of “meet the experts” turned out to be much more fun than expected, and hopefully useful for everyone. We partitioned the group in subgroups depending on the participants’ goals and we tried to spend as much time as possible with everybody, prioritizing those that unfortunately had to leave already in the first evening. One subgroup got started with preCICE tutorials, another subgroup dived deep inside coupled simulations with OpenFOAM, while everybody was welcome to discuss their own cases.
The social events
The workshop had as a primary goal to bind the community together. For this, we designed several events that would give a chance for people to interact. The coffee breaks were long, the dinner had good bavarian beer, and for those that spent some time before the workshop in Munich, we organized a very special city tour in the medieval Munich. Professional actors made the tour exciting and being (coincidentially) on the side of the carnival parade made this little event something we will remember for a long time.
Conclusions & future work
I hope that this was not the only conference that you will manage to physically attend in 2020, and for those that you did not manage to come, I hope that you will enjoy the video recording of the talks and that we will see you again next year, most probably in Stuttgart. Until then, stay safe and keep the virus away!
P.S.: You can also read more about the workshop in the latest issue of Quartl.