Pablo Carrica: Enjoying the Challenge
Work is a pleasure for IIHR Research Engineer Pablo Carrica. “I like the challenge of discovery,” he says. “You can try and figure out something that nobody has figured out before.”
Carrica, who is also an associate professor of mechanical and industrial engineering, says his education in nuclear engineering is uniquely suited to his work. Thermohydraulics, which is one of the main aspects of nuclear engineering, is essentially fluid flow, Carrica says. “That’s what I’ve been doing since.”
After finishing his education in his native Argentina, Carrica worked for the Argentinean Nuclear Commission and later at an oil company as a simulation engineer, studying the flow of oil in reservoirs. His work at IIHR focuses on areas including multiphase flow, fluid mechanics, and computational fluid dynamics. “My main area is bubbly flows,” Carrica says. Bubbly flows occur across the board, from naturally occurring flows in waterfalls to chemical reactors, where bubbles are used to “increase interfacial area and exchange chemicals between components to get a product.”
Currently Carrica is working on several projects, including a study of bubbly flow around ships, as well as other smaller initiatives. One project focuses on wind turbines and another on submarine propulsion and maneuvering, both of which essentially focus on flow around rotating structures. “What I usually do is create models that other people can use for other applications,” he explains. For example, Carrica helped develop the groundbreaking CFDShip-Iowa, a computer code that can simulate the flow of air and water around a virtual ship.
Carrica’s dedication to his field is fueled by his love of discovery, but also by a true enjoyment of his subject. “I try to find fun things in my area,” he says. “That’s the way I ended up doing wind turbines. It’s related to my area, I like the subject of renewable energy, and I like wind turbines.”
In the future, Carrica hopes to take maximum advantage of the current technology, and to be able to use the supercomputers that are coming online to solve more complicated problems. For now, he says, “The challenges are more and more complicated every year, [and] as technology evolves, people have to focus more in a given area.”
When not conducting research, teaching courses, or modeling flows, Carrica’s other passions shine. “I play guitar, I run, and I spend time with family—that’s the most important thing.” Carrica is married to IIHR Associate Research Engineer Marcela Politano, and the family includes four children. They enjoy the ease and safety of life in Iowa, where they have lived since Carrica joined the University of Iowa as a visiting associate professor in 2002.
By Amy Dalkoff