Key concepts to become a numerical modeler

 

Nowadays, water resources management requires a better understanding of nature and a superior evaluation of the impacts caused by humans. We are concerned and focused on sustainability because we live on a planet with limited resources and changing environments. In some way, we know that the actual changes are results from past and present actions along with the effect of nature cycles.

This new way to understand nature changes the way in how we have learned hydrology, hydrogeology, climatology, etc. because now it is important to include dynamic concepts and interactions between the atmospheric, subterranean and superficial water cycles.

Also, the actions that need to be taken can no longer be solely based on an expert’s opinion, it is necessary to include numerical simulations. Water use evaluations for permissions of use have to be numerically supported to ensure sustainability and engineering designs have to include more variables and security factors.

 

The new modeler and the market society

This new stage of evaluation and water resources management depends on the use of numerical models, therefore, the future of the humanity requires more modelers. Mentioning an axiom related to the capital market: “competition improves product quality”, the parallel of this phrase related to modeling would be “the amount of modelers improves the quality of models”. This would not only mean a less cost to perform numerical simulations but, by having a bigger amount of modelers, new quality criteria and better practices are established which improves one of today's model detriments: “garbage in - garbage out”

This new group of professionals will have a particularity: they will search, implement and improve informatic tools where, curiously, the young professionals will be the ones who contribute more and have an important authority over the evaluations based on these models. In a society concept, the new generation of modelers will be an utopian democracy because it is based on discussions of facts represented in the validation of simulated values against observed values. Due to the fact that all modelers are aware of the limitations of models, there will be no interest on being the principal protagonist of decision taking, but to make better simulations. Of course, this future will characterized by the use of free software.

 

The key concepts

If you got bored at University because you were not taught too many calculus methods, if you like math a lot, if you feel like at work you spend more time making calls and coordinations than analyzing, we recommend you to read these key concepts to become a numerical modeler.

Start as soon as you can

The best moment to become a numerical modeler is when you are 2 years away from graduation. This is because of the amount of documentations and tutorials that you will have to read and practice before focusing on more advanced projects. You can start anytime but, the earlier, the better.

Train hard

You can not become a numerical modeler in a day. Anyone interested has to read, practice the tutorials and develop study cases for at least 2 hours/day including Sundays and holidays. You may attend a seminar, but it will not replace the amount of extra hours that you need to dedicate to this.

The manual is your friend

The best way to learn a software is to read the manual or online documentation. If you have not read the manual, you will not be able to correctly use the software. Good thing is that all software come with excellent manuals and application examples.

Passion for understanding physical processes

Numerical modeling software is developed by people and are meant to be used by people. That is why complicated software may exist, but it is not impossible to learn. Models are numerical representations of physical processes of the water cycle. This is why you can understand how the software works based on the physical process that it is trying to represent. This approach is very practical to understand and master the use of a new model, and also to compare different versions of the same model.

Generate extended memory

When you work processing and modeling data you need to improve the way how your mind stores it. In modeling you need to learn how to instantaneously capture processing parameters, inputs and results in your memory to have an optimal analysis phase. This extended memory is developed by practicing in many times with different models.

Third time is not necessary lucky

Persistence is very important to solve numerical and computational problems. Software mistakes can take days or even weeks to be fixed. To solve them, it is sometimes necessary to go home, eat, relax and think about a better solution. In numerical modeling, “third time lucky” is not as accurate as “17th time lucky”.

Learn English

This is for everyone who live in non English speaking countries. All software documentation is found in English.

Share you knowledge, make a community

Most of your numerical modeling learning will be self-taught, you will be all on your own in front of the computer and documentation. But this is not an excuse to limit your interaction with other people with the same interests. Organize study groups or conferences to show your progress, share your knowledge. To make other people accept your results, they need to understand what you are analyzing.

We are a group of people interested in making a community of numerical modeling. We are focused on sharing the latest tools we learn, which means we have always been willing to share what we know and we would like to meet a major number of professionals interested in improving the understanding of physical phenomena of water cycle and mastering the use of evaluation tools.

Always keep learning

The amount of developers, research centers and amount of problems related to water management make that the software versions change a lot and new software is always available.

Saul Montoya

Saul Montoya es Ingeniero Civil graduado de la Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú en Lima con estudios de postgrado en Manejo e Ingeniería de Recursos Hídricos (Programa WAREM) de la Universidad de Stuttgart con mención en Ingeniería de Aguas Subterráneas y Hidroinformática.

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