An interview with Robert Hurlston
"My general advice would be to always stay curious, that’s all folks!"
Today, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jousef Murad for the latest in our series of interviews titled 'Excerpts with the Experts', in which we learn what it takes to get to the very top of the simulation field.
Jousef is a mechanical engineer creating educational content in the field of engineering & AI on his YouTube channel with the goal to educate and inspire people around the world. He is also hosting a podcast called "Engineered-Mind".
He recently finished his master’s degree where he specialized in computational mechanics and fluid mechanics. In his master’s thesis, he used deep learning techniques to build a prototype assistance system for engineers & designers using 3D geometries.
Hi everybody, and welcome to another Fidelis - Excerpts with the Experts, where we learn a little bit more about the path that led our simulation and CAE experts to where they are today, and what makes them tick!
Thanks Jousef so much for joining us today. First, I’d like to ask you about your journey to get here (career and otherwise). Can you tell us a little about your career path to date?
I was born in Karlsruhe, the same city I studied mechanical engineering in, at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. I started working when I was around 12-13 years washing cars and doing the inventory for a big DIY market to earn my first few bucks. On the side, I was also helping my dad who always worked on cars, and that’s how I got in touch with engineering at a very young age. I was not 100% sure that I wanted to study this subject as I had several options in my head like becoming a surgeon, a teacher or even studying mathematics. Before and during my studies I kept working in companies like the Mercedes-Benz Plant in Wörth (Germany), the biggest truck plant in the world, where I was working at the assembly line.
If some of you know me from my podcast or my YouTube channel, you will know that I am not the biggest fan of the classical education path as most of it is a scam trying to convince you that you’re ready for real-life, which is simply not true. Nonetheless, I was having a good time at uni developing my FEA “skills” in my bachelor’s and learning about the dimensioning of mechanical parts and switched to fluid mechanics and turbulence theory in my Masters. I was and still am a big fan of doing projects on the side, reading some good books not related to engineering, and connecting with great people over the internet. It took me roughly 3 years longer than the average person to finish my studies but I couldn’t care less as I was already working for SimScale by the end of 2016.
My master’s thesis was not in the field of FEA or CFD but in artificial intelligence (AI), where I was programming a Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) that took in images from a CAD dataset where the screenshots have been created in Blender and then used for classification purposes and suggestion of CAD files. This was basically designed to be an assistance system for engineers and designers to support their product development processes.
As we’ve just heard, we all started from somewhere. Who were your role models or mentors, and what did you learn from them about simulation, engineering, and life in general?
I don’t have one role model or mentor who inspires me but it’s a combination of different people and circumstances, I guess. Elon Musk is definitely a big inspiration for me and many others and although I do not 100% agree with what he does or did, he still is a great role model. I have some other role models in the fitness and coding world but that’s maybe a topic for a future video ;-)
That’s great! Thanks for setting the scene. Let’s learn a little more about what you do currently. What does a day in the life of Jousef look like?
As a Product Marketing Engineer at SimScale, I work on plenty of different tasks that can either vary each day or I focus on the same task for weeks, it really depends on the priorities inside the company. I usually start my day at 8.30-9 am starting with a good and healthy breakfast before I start working on the tasks for the day. SimScale gives me the freedom to work independently but of course always with a purpose in mind and guidance if necessary. My tasks range from talking to my colleagues from the sales department, product or other teams to make sure that my team from marketing supports them in the best and most efficient way possible to working on webinars, blog posts, as well as brainstorming and executing new campaigns to become more successful.
One for all, all for one!
OK, so we know what you do… but why do you do it? What about your job drives you to get out of bed in the morning?
I cannot speak for other people but for me being able to work on tasks independently as well as having a flat hierarchy are the most important things for me inside a company. Another big aspect is that I get to work with amazing and smart people and I can always learn something new, pretty incredible!
Awesome! Now, let’s get a bit more specific. What is your preferred simulation software?
Well, I guess I am a bit biased here, so I will go for SimScale as it’s easily accessible. By eliminating the hassles of traditional simulation software such as installation, versioning, license-sharing or a long onboarding, it is low cost as you only pay for what you need and it frees you from large up-front investments and scales simulation capacity by your needs and last but not least is basically for everyone!
And are you working on anything particularly exciting at the moment?
I am working on FEA and CFD guided projects which I will publish on Coursera, interview very exciting guests for my podcasts, and plan to release more theoretical and practical videos on my channel now that my thesis has been handed in a few weeks ago!
We’ve all worked on things that we’re particularly proud of or that we enjoyed more than our typical work. What is the coolest project you’ve ever worked on?
I would say my YouTube channel as it connects me with plenty of people around the world and seeing the impact my videos have on students or just inquisitive people is really fascinating to me considering the fact that this isn’t even the highest production value yet! As for satisfaction, I think that this is a point that I might never reach because you know the saying “be proud but never satisfied” and with the hedonic treadmill always kicking in, it’s the journey that should be enjoyed and not the end goal. So I’d rather focus on becoming 1% every day than to think how my 110% looks like in a few years.
What does ‘cutting edge’ simulation look like today, in your opinion?
Here are the basic principals that I would expect from a “cutting edge” simulation tool:
You’ve clearly made it to a point in your career where we’re calling you an ‘expert’. A lot of our readers aspire to get to this point in their own careers, too! What is one piece of advice you would give an aspiring engineer that might help them grow in their simulation career?
I would never call myself an “expert” in a field. I am far away from being an expert, but I would say that I have a decent understanding of a variety of different topics, that’s what you usually call a comb-shaped person trying to have a decent knowledge about different topics (or a generalist) rather than an I-shaped expert who knows one topic very well.
My general advice therefore would be to always stay curious, that’s all folks!
OK, well thanks for all of that. Here’s a fun one to finish with. Who, alive or dead, would you love to sit down and have a drink and a chat with? Why? and what would you ask them?
There are too many people I would like to talk to. Guess that's why I have a podcast. ;-)
Naval Ravikant and/or Richard Feynman would be great guys to talk to for sure. If you watch some interviews, you will see why I would like to talk to them and ask them about life, business and, of course, physics!
Well that was fantastic! Thanks so much again for taking the time with us today. We wish you continued success in your career – and I’m sure our paths will cross again very soon!
As a keen content creator, Jousef would love to point our readers in the direction of his trainings and social media platforms: