Holder of the Aeroacoustics Chair (TU Delft, L&R, department of Aerodynamics, Wind Energy, Flight Performance and Propulsion/AWEP) and Senior Technical Director of Aerospace Application Management at Exa Corporation (Stuttgart).
‘I was born (1972) in Brindisi, a town on the south Adriatic cost of Italy, where I use to travel frequently to visit my parents and my two lovely daughters, Arianna (2006) and Elena (2003). The centre of my private life is in Stuttgart, where my partner Domenica lives. She works as an automotive engineer in Porsche. I am currently living half time in Stuttgart, where I also work for Exa, a CFD software company, and in Delft. I travel very frequently, both for personal and business reasons, and I like my style of life. Since I was very young, I never felt to belong to one place, and although I need to have some reference points, I like to be in permanent motion; it should be due to my “maritime” origins, coming from the sea.’
What is your favourite hobby?
‘When I was much younger and I had more time, I liked to play piano and guitar. I studied piano for eight years. I also liked fishing. Now free time is an issue and must be devoted to my loved ones, so I use to listen Elena playing piano, she is much better than I was, and with my fiancé Domenica I discovered the pleasure of shopping, which literally means spending hours examining articles of clothing without buying. Domenica also educated me to the noble art of watching “non-converging” TV-series, such as Outlander. Another hobby, which is indeed a necessity, is running; I never forget my running shoes when I travel. Recently, I have also discovered the pleasure of assisting Arianna during her several artistic activities, like making hand phone covers. Arianna is very creative and artistic.’
Career high point?
‘The position of Aeroacoustics chair at the Aerospace faculty at Delft University of Technology is certainly the highest point of my career. I feel very grateful to the people who considered my variegate technical and professional background a resource for the department.’
Your greatest challenge at the moment?
‘In the field of fluid mechanics, my main challenge is to bridge the established physical and experimental knowledge of the AWEP department with the predictive capabilities of the Lattice-Boltzmann Method developed by Exa, or other high-fidelity CFD-methods. This means educating new generations of engineers and researchers to the critical usage of physical and numerical experiments. Our goal is to understand the effect of some parameters on the behaviour of a fluid system, like for instance the turbulent flow past the blade of a wind turbine. In the field of computational aeroacoustics, my greatest challenge is to understand how to systematically achieve a “1 dB” absolute accuracy at aircraft component level, and thus promote the usage of high-fidelity CFD to design flight vehicles that match target noise levels with small margins. It is not only important to predict the noise level accurately, but also to understand how reliable the prediction is. Making this knowledge available to colleagues working in the field of the environmental impact of future air traffic system is certainly my greatest challenge at the moment.’
Most enjoyable aspect of work?
‘The most enjoyable aspect of my work is certainly the possibility to collaborate with enthusiastic, motivated and curious people. Working in a scientific environment is like arts, with a perfect match of passion and sense of duty. I feel very lucky to have a job that keeps my mind enlighten also when I am at home. More similarly to an artisan, I conceive and build up my creations, like a simple script, a new computational methodology or a model formulation, and (different from an artist) I am finally gratified when others can take advantage of them.’
‘The aerospace faculty of Delft University of Technology is a reference in the global aviation community. It is one of the largest aerospace faculties in the world. The whole university is an incubator of intelligence and a source of innovation in many fields. In Delft, I have found the same human energy that I have found in other high-tech campuses like Stanford in US. However, in Delft, for the first time, I have perceived that the common inspiration concept for scientists, researchers and engineers is how technology can have a positive impact on Society. The main focus is on Society; Economy comes as a secondary effect. This is quite unique indeed.’
Best character trait?
‘I have a strong sense of commitment to a goal. Also, I am not someone with a strong opinion always. I keep my mind open for other opinions.’
Worst character trait?
‘A lack of flexibility as a result of being too strongly committed to a goal.’
Key issues in the world of science?
‘I highly value scientific integrity. Scientists should always be independent when conducting and evaluating research, so that the public can trust their judgement.’
Sources of inspiration?
‘The Greek philosophers like Socrates, Plato and the atomistic after Leucippus have been my first source of inspiration. I tend to have a Socratic educational attitude in my personal and professional life. I like Plato’s idealization of an undeterminable sensible word. Leucippus’ intuition of matter constituted by particles in perpetual chaotic motion is the starting point of any statistical mechanics theory. Without any specific reason, the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II has inspired my romantic view of leadership and diplomatic attitude. In his short life he did amazing things. Closely to my field of expertise, the formal simplicity and elegance of Prandtl’s theories have inspired my critical attitude towards theories in which the mathematical formalism overwhelms the physical interpretation of the phenomena. For the same reason, in the early stages of my PhD in aeroacoustics, I have been inspired by the work of researchers like Mico Hirschberg who have explained complex phenomena using first principles and the classical theories of vortex dynamics. In some cases, however, a suitable mathematical formalism is necessary to transform beautiful theories into useful methods, and my source of inspiration in this category is Feri Farassat.’
‘Be passionate in the professional as well as in the private life. Be persistent and mutable in the same time, like water that always finds the best way.’