Q&A: Cristina Agafon-Danila, Senior Hydraulic Modeller

We’re getting to know members of the Flood Modeller team! This month we have spoken to Cristina Agafon-Danila, a Senior Hydraulic Modeller, who has 5 years of experience using Flood Modeller. Here she talks about her role at Jacobs, how she became a hydraulic modeller, and the most notable updates to the software since she started using it.

How long have you been using Flood Modeller?

My passion for water resources started when I was a university student at a maritime university. After joining a hydraulic/hydrology masters course, I realised how interesting and important this field is and that my passion could become my career. During my masters, I had the opportunity to use different hydraulic modelling software, but unfortunately not Flood Modeller.

After I started working at Jacobs, I was exposed to this new software that I adopted as my one and only modelling solution! After working with other software and having had a rough time building, checking and running models, Flood Modeller made everything simpler. The user interface, the pre and post processing tools, the memorable icons for the units just made everything more enjoyable.

I am happy to see that in the last few years, an increasing number of universities have adopted the software as their preferred hydraulic modelling software, and that students will focus on the process of building and understanding a model and will already have exposure to a software that has taken over the UK and Irish market.

What type of modelling do you typically undertake?

I've used Flood Modeller quite extensively on different types of projects from 1D only models (forecasting projects) to integrated 1D-2D models (appraisals, flood mapping etc), but some of my most memorable applications of the software come from clients that reach out to our support team. It’s amazing to see how creative modellers can get when using Flood Modeller!

What do you think has been the most notable update to the software since you started using it?

There is not one update that I find most notable. Whether it be a small update or a brand new feature, all of the changes I've seen make the modeller's life easier. The indispensable 1D model health check, the Global Edit tools, the 2D build tools allowing you to quickly create links between the 1D and 2D domains, and the new enhanced 2D GPU solver - they all bring ease of modelling, cut modeller's stress (I mean input!) time, and increase confidence in simulation results.

As one of our course leaders, do you have any recommendations or advice when first starting to use the software?

I remember how nervous I was when I attended my first Flood Modeller training course! After so many years of attending courses, but also delivering training sessions, I would tell my past self to try and relax, and don’t panic when there are things you do not understand. Everything is new and this knowledge will cement into you through the varied training practicals and as you build project experience.

I would advise that new starters try and feel comfortable during a training course, ask questions when you are unsure, and create a relationship of trust with your tutor. Even if the tutor may not be able to answer some of the questions (nobody knows everything!), they will definitely try and find an answer for you.

Are you pleased to be able to offer in-person training courses again?

I love delivering a face-to face training! The connection you make with the attendees is so much more relaxed; the relationship is so much easier to navigate, and the ease of explaining the capabilities of the software face to face is great! It's very satisfying when you see the attendees expressions when you present a new tool that would make their life easier, or when you teach them a new trick.

Although, the online training courses have also brought their own feeling of satisfaction, I clearly remember when one of the attendees screamed in excitement when his simulation initiated after so many previous fails!

Just knowing that you helped someone start their path into building models with Flood Modeller is rewarding on both a personal and professional level!

If you're not in the office, what would we most likely find you doing?

If you would have asked me this question before the global pandemic started, I would have answered with: "Oh! Going out for coffees, attending different social events in my city, participating in organised group events such a hiking, and travelling!". But as this question comes after (and still during) a pandemic, I will be a boring person and answer with: reading, hiking, getting cozy with my cat and partner on the sofa and finishing all available tv-shows on some of the more popular streaming apps.

I still have travelling as a passion and try to take advantage of this where possible. The last place I visited was Iceland, which left me wanting more (photo taken while hiking a glacier)! And one last wish that I would like to have granted would be to visit Japan again (for the 3rd time!) and explore even more of its impressive culture.

What do you enjoy most about being part of Jacobs?

I am really fortunate to work in not one, but two amazing teams! I am part of the Warrington hydraulic modelling/hydrology team and the Flood Modeller software support team - I get all my modelling knowledge and positive energy twice over!

The diversity of the teams in terms of knowledge, background, experience, nationality, joke-telling (that sometimes just go over my head as they are too English!), and personality, creates an amazing environment that makes every task more bearable, tight deadlines more digestible, and the morning coffee more enjoyable.

I would like to also thank and acknowledge through this post the positive impact that they had, and still have, on my professional development and also on my personal life.


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