Ivette Rodríguez is the latest researcher to be highlighted in our popular
Women of ERCOFTAC series.
After graduating as a Mechanical Engineer at the Technical University of La Havana (Cuba) in 1994, Ivette moved to Barcelona, where she achieved her PhD in Thermal Sciences.
She has been at Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) since then and is now Associate Professor of the Turbulence and Aerodynamics Research Group (TUAREG).
Find out more about Ivette, her research, and advice to young women in STEM…
What is your research specialism?
My research mainly focuses on the numerical simulation of complex flows such as those that can be encountered in aerodynamics and heat transfer applications. This simulation involves turbulent flows with separations, reattachment, transition to turbulence, and fluid-structure interaction.
The goal is to contribute to understanding the underlying physics of turbulent flows - crucial for developing more accurate models, optimal flow control for drag and noise reduction, and in general, for increasing the efficiency in engineering applications.
What projects are you working on?
Currently, I’m working on a project with the Barcelona Supercomputing Center to develop new real-time flow control strategies to reduce the drag and aero-acoustics noise generated from friction and massive flow separation. The flow control strategies are expected to be applied at high Reynolds numbers in real-time extreme flight operations. The originality of this project is that machine-learning multi-objective flow optimisation techniques will be used to develop reduced-order models to find the most effective strategies to control turbulent boundary layers.
Was there a woman who inspired you to get into your field?
It may sound like a cliché, but ever since I started my studies, my mother was the woman who inspired me the most. She was a great surgeon in a field also dominated by men.
There may only be a few female figures in the ‘CFD world’, but I profoundly respect Prof. Maria Vittoria Salvetti. I still remember the first time I saw her; it was an ERCOFTAC conference, and she presented her research in an auditorium filled with mostly men. Her work and her successful career are of great inspiration.
(Read our interview with Maria Vittoria Salvetti here).
What advice would you give to young women wanting to get into STEM?
I encourage young women to follow their passions and be open to learning new things. Even though STEM careers are mainly male-dominated, I encourage young women to pursue their dreams, set their own targets and go for them!
I personally experienced obstacles in my career, but I have also pushed myself further and, more importantly, not given up. Science requires dedication and hard work but also gives you the understanding and the means of putting your small sand grain in the knowledge field. This is very satisfying and worth the effort.
What are the benefits of being a member of ERCOFTAC?
ERCOFTAC is an excellent framework for bringing scientists in different fluid mechanics fields together to share their experiences and research. ERCOFTAC conferences and workshops also help with the dissemination of this research and collaboration. On top of that, courses, spring festivals, and similar activities promoted by ERCOFTAC help to spread knowledge and, more importantly, create a new generation of highly motivated and skilled researchers.