Carlos Simão Ferreira

Name? 
Carlos Simão Ferreira

Position? 
Professor of Wind Energy Science at TU Delft engaged in researching wind turbine and wake aerodynamics with a focus on multi-megawatt offshore HAWTs and VAWTs. Also: Head of Studies of the European Wind Energy Master (EWEM) programme and Programme Director for the master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering.

Private life?
‘I was born in Portugal where I grew up near the beach. I did my studies there but went to the Netherlands when I was 21. I met my wife, Herdis, in Delft. We have three children: Fausto (11), Felix (6) and Olivia (4). My hobbies have changed over time. I go to the gym, mostly for maintenance, but there was a time when I did a lot of painting. A big hobby in recent years has been rebuilding the house. I DIY almost every week.’

What is your favourite hobby?
‘My latest thing is playing the ukulele. I try to learn particular songs that I love, and try to sing with it: I’m not fast with my fingers but the ukulele is simple enough and I enjoy it. It’s relaxing and my family gets a kick out of it. It’s different, it’s new. I’m trying to do something I’ve never did before and I am enjoying the experience.’

Your career in brief? 
‘I started studying aerospace engineering at the Technical University of Lisbon. At 21, I came to Delft. I earned my master's degree cum laude in Aerospace Engineering at TU Delft together with a Licenciatura em Engenharia Aerospacial in Lisbon. After graduation, I worked for two years as a business consultant with The Boston Consulting Group. I then returned to TU Delft for my PhD in Wind Energy which was awarded cum laude and received the Outstanding Young Doctor Award from the European Academy of Wind Energy. At TU Delft, I was promoted from Postdoc/Researcher and Assistant Professor of Aerodynamics and Wind Energy to Associate Professor and am now Professor in Wind Energy Science.’

Career high point? 
‘A very nice highpoint has just happened, with the start of our newest tenure tracker Dr. Wei Yu, who received a Delft Fellowship (DTF). I had the pleasure of being Wei’s PhD promotor, and now we will be working as colleagues as Wei starts her academic career. For me, this is very rewarding and engaging. A second career highpoint, two years ago, was when we exceeded 200 graduates in the European Wind Energy Master’s programme. A great achievement, with a big impact on people’s lives. And I look forward to new highpoints.’

Your greatest challenge at the moment? 
‘There are a lot of things competing for my attention: education, research, organisation, management, plus more elements of multiple platforms of communication. So, the biggest challenge for me is to look at something interesting and say, ‘That’s really nice, but at this moment it would be unwise to do it’. Ultimately, science is an art form: it requires commitment and through passion, dedication. I have to make choices: what is relevant enough for my commitment and what are simply temptations? You can’t commit to too many things.’

Most enjoyable aspect of work? 
‘It sounds very politically correct but it’s very true; it really is the people I work with. I also like the element of solving a puzzle, like in the Sherlock Holmes films/books I enjoyed as a kid. Nowadays, I’m solving a scientific puzzle by finding a nice elegant solution. But what makes it really rewarding is the people. I work with people who are not only very talented, but who are also very generous when it comes to sharing their time, knowledge and experience. They are working on exciting and interesting things that inspire me to learn even more.’

Why Delft? 
‘When I was a student I wanted to do an Erasmus exchange, and I had two options, Delft and the ISAE SUPAERO in France. I heard about Delft: how open and helpful people were, that everything was in English, and that you could knock on a professor’s door and they would take the time to talk with you. So, Delft not only enjoyed a scientific and academic high standard but also had a culture of openness and accessibility for its students that I found very valuable. Then I came here, made friends and met my wife, so Delft was important to me not only from a professional standpoint but also on a personal level. Luckily for me, Delft also has one of the best faculties of aerospace engineering in the world and is a top-ranked university of technology. Sometimes in life, you get to combine work with pleasure.’

Best character trait? 
‘Professionally: at my best moments, not taking myself too seriously. It’s good to take a look at myself and explore what I still have to learn. Especially when the career is going well and you start having titles like Professor. I tend to think: “okay, I’ve achieved this, but it is just one more step in my development. I still have many more to go, many more things to learn!’

Worst character trait? 
‘The other side of the coin: if you question your achievements, might you start questioning yourself too much? Always asking yourself if this is the right thing to do. What could I do better? And thus becoming a perfectionist about things.’

Key issues on the political agenda? 
‘In Europe especially, we have been enjoying a long period of peace and prosperity since the Second World War. There might be a temptation to forget about how precious that is. This peace and prosperity are a consequence of the lessons learnt back then. This involved not only a technological but also a societal progress. I hope, before things get much worse with regard to social media, climate change and political extremism, that we will be able to relate with each other again. That we realise that we can have space and freedom to allow each individual to enjoy the life that he or she wants, and appreciate the wisdom of moderates.’

Source of inspiration? 
‘I have several. I was very lucky to be born into the family and community I was born into. When I moved to the Netherlands, I was confronted with different but very inspiring values. As I mentioned before, my colleagues and friends are a source of inspiration. Scientifically, I am inspired by Prandtl, for his elegant description of fluid aerodynamics. By Carl Sagan, for his ability to educate and communicate scientific knowledge. And by Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which is probably one of the best books on philosophy and rationality.’ 

Personal philosophy? 
‘I guess a mixture of stoicism and the cultural/Christian roots of my upbringing. There is a beautiful book, The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm. It discusses all the different kinds of love. I think my personal philosophy is to continue to explore all the different forms of love and to enjoy all these different aspects.’

Position? 
Professor of Wind Energy Science at TU Delft engaged in researching wind turbine and wake aerodynamics with a focus on multi-megawatt offshore HAWTs and VAWTs. Also: Head of Studies of the European Wind Energy Master (EWEM) programme and Programme Director for the master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering.

Private life?
‘I was born in Portugal where I grew up near the beach. I did my studies there but went to the Netherlands when I was 21. I met my wife, Herdis, in Delft. We have three children: Fausto (11), Felix (6) and Olivia (4). My hobbies have changed over time. I go to the gym, mostly for maintenance, but there was a time when I did a lot of painting. A big hobby in recent years has been rebuilding the house. I DIY almost every week.’

What is your favourite hobby?
‘My latest thing is playing the ukulele. I try to learn particular songs that I love, and try to sing with it: I’m not fast with my fingers but the ukulele is simple enough and I enjoy it. It’s relaxing and my family gets a kick out of it. It’s different, it’s new. I’m trying to do something I’ve never did before and I am enjoying the experience.’

Your career in brief? 
‘I started studying aerospace engineering at the Technical University of Lisbon. At 21, I came to Delft. I earned my master's degree cum laude in Aerospace Engineering at TU Delft together with a Licenciatura em Engenharia Aerospacial in Lisbon. After graduation, I worked for two years as a business consultant with The Boston Consulting Group. I then returned to TU Delft for my PhD in Wind Energy which was awarded cum laude and received the Outstanding Young Doctor Award from the European Academy of Wind Energy. At TU Delft, I was promoted from Postdoc/Researcher and Assistant Professor of Aerodynamics and Wind Energy to Associate Professor and am now Professor in Wind Energy Science.’

Career high point? 
‘A very nice highpoint has just happened, with the start of our newest tenure tracker Dr. Wei Yu, who received a Delft Fellowship (DTF). I had the pleasure of being Wei’s PhD promotor, and now we will be working as colleagues as Wei starts her academic career. For me, this is very rewarding and engaging. A second career highpoint, two years ago, was when we exceeded 200 graduates in the European Wind Energy Master’s programme. A great achievement, with a big impact on people’s lives. And I look forward to new highpoints.’

Your greatest challenge at the moment? 
‘There are a lot of things competing for my attention: education, research, organisation, management, plus more elements of multiple platforms of communication. So, the biggest challenge for me is to look at something interesting and say, ‘That’s really nice, but at this moment it would be unwise to do it’. Ultimately, science is an art form: it requires commitment and through passion, dedication. I have to make choices: what is relevant enough for my commitment and what are simply temptations? You can’t commit to too many things.’

Most enjoyable aspect of work? 
‘It sounds very politically correct but it’s very true; it really is the people I work with. I also like the element of solving a puzzle, like in the Sherlock Holmes films/books I enjoyed as a kid. Nowadays, I’m solving a scientific puzzle by finding a nice elegant solution. But what makes it really rewarding is the people. I work with people who are not only very talented, but who are also very generous when it comes to sharing their time, knowledge and experience. They are working on exciting and interesting things that inspire me to learn even more.’

Why Delft? 
‘When I was a student I wanted to do an Erasmus exchange, and I had two options, Delft and the ISAE SUPAERO in France. I heard about Delft: how open and helpful people were, that everything was in English, and that you could knock on a professor’s door and they would take the time to talk with you. So, Delft not only enjoyed a scientific and academic high standard but also had a culture of openness and accessibility for its students that I found very valuable. Then I came here, made friends and met my wife, so Delft was important to me not only from a professional standpoint but also on a personal level. Luckily for me, Delft also has one of the best faculties of aerospace engineering in the world and is a top-ranked university of technology. Sometimes in life, you get to combine work with pleasure.’

Best character trait? 
‘Professionally: at my best moments, not taking myself too seriously. It’s good to take a look at myself and explore what I still have to learn. Especially when the career is going well and you start having titles like Professor. I tend to think: “okay, I’ve achieved this, but it is just one more step in my development. I still have many more to go, many more things to learn!’

Worst character trait? 
‘The other side of the coin: if you question your achievements, might you start questioning yourself too much? Always asking yourself if this is the right thing to do. What could I do better? And thus becoming a perfectionist about things.’

Key issues on the political agenda? 
‘In Europe especially, we have been enjoying a long period of peace and prosperity since the Second World War. There might be a temptation to forget about how precious that is. This peace and prosperity are a consequence of the lessons learnt back then. This involved not only a technological but also a societal progress. I hope, before things get much worse with regard to social media, climate change and political extremism, that we will be able to relate with each other again. That we realise that we can have space and freedom to allow each individual to enjoy the life that he or she wants, and appreciate the wisdom of moderates.’

Source of inspiration? 
‘I have several. I was very lucky to be born into the family and community I was born into. When I moved to the Netherlands, I was confronted with different but very inspiring values. As I mentioned before, my colleagues and friends are a source of inspiration. Scientifically, I am inspired by Prandtl, for his elegant description of fluid aerodynamics. By Carl Sagan, for his ability to educate and communicate scientific knowledge. And by Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which is probably one of the best books on philosophy and rationality.’ 

Personal philosophy? 
‘I guess a mixture of stoicism and the cultural/Christian roots of my upbringing. There is a beautiful book, The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm. It discusses all the different kinds of love. I think my personal philosophy is to continue to explore all the different forms of love and to enjoy all these different aspects.’