Monday, 14 March 2016

ASCE UK Meeting at Wessex Institute of Technology

A meeting was arranged at the Wessex Institute Campus in Ashurst Lodge, to bring together the ASCE members in the UK and let them know about the recent developments of the Society in the USA, as well as listen to an interesting technical talk about bridge design.

The meeting was opened by Prof Carlos A Brebbia, President of the ASCE/UK Group, who described the work of Wessex Institute.  Carlos pointed out that WIT’s main function is the dissemination of knowledge and hence the Institute, rather than being in competition with other academic bodies, collaborates with many of them throughout the world.
ASCE members at a special event at Wessex Institute

The WIT activities are carried out through supporting industry with advanced consulting and software tools.  Another important role is the publication of specialist literature and maintaining a large Open Access database, from which papers can be downloaded for free.  A further function of WIT is the organisation of technical conferences in different locations, in collaboration with other research institutions and universities.

Carlos finished his introductory remarks by thanking everybody for coming to the meeting which he hoped will be followed by similar seminars in the future.  He also expressed the gratitude of ASCE/UK for the presence of the two speakers at the meeting, ie Prof Alex Cheng, from the USA, and Prof Santiago Hernandez from Spain.

Prof Alex Cheng is a Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Mississippi and currently Dean of Engineering at the same School.  He has a distinguished academic and research career, starting with his PhD at Cornell University, where he also taught for some time before taking a position at Columbia University, followed by one at the University of Delaware.

He is renowned in the field of computational mechanics and serves now as the Editor in Chief of the International Journal of Engineering Analyses with Boundary Elements.  Alex is also a member of the Board of Directors of WIT and collaborates with the Institute as an Adjunct Professor.

He has been very active at ASCE where he was past president of the Engineering Mechanics Institute.  Amongst his many honours and awards he has been the recipient of the Walter L Huber, Civil Engineering Research Prize.

Alex started by paying tribute to the long Civil Engineering tradition in the UK. Civil Engineering can be dated to the first use of that name by Smeaton even before the Institute of Civil Engineers started.  It was much later that the ASCE was created.

Alex also mentioned that his own University of Mississippi at Oxford, founded in 1842, followed the English model.  One of the first founding professors, John Millington (1779-1868) was the author of The Elements of Civil Engineering, the first handbook of the profession. 

Alex explained the importance of the ASCE not only in the USA but also throughout the world.  It has developed a series of Institutes which carry out activities in many different countries.  It is still mainly a professional association in spite of its research interests.

Alex has been involved with the Engineering Mechanics Institute and described their technical support work which is very varied as it covers many different fields.  Some of these topics eventually gave rise to new groups in their own right.

The Institute’s interests range from computational methods to new materials and nanotechnology.  The topic of eco-friendly materials is very much in the agenda of the Institute.  The Institute has produced a series of successful reports dealing with civil engineering infrastructure problems, including the state of buildings, sewage systems and many other types of infrastructure.

ASCE members 

The ASCE reports are taken into consideration by the USA Government.  They are highlighted through the work of lobbyists in Washington.  This is an important function of ASCE and one of the main reasons for some experts to join the Society.

After Alex’s address, Carlos introduced Prof Santiago Hernandez, F.A.S.C.E.  Santiago is a Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of A Coruña, Spain.  Santiago also has a long and distinguished research career.  One of his main research areas is the analysis and design of bridges.  He has written a book on ‘Bridge Aeroelasticity: Sensitivity Analysis and Optimal Design’, recently published by WIT Press, 2011, ISBN: 978-1-84564-056-9.

Santiago has received a most important Award, ie the Distinguished Achievements Medal of Civil Engineers in Spain.  The award given once a year is highly prestigious.  Santiago is an Adjunct Professor, as well as Member of the Board of Directors, of the Wessex Institute.  He has collaborated with WIT for a long time, including in the organisation of courses and international conferences.

During his talk Santiago showed a series of interesting projects which were analysed by his Group.  He also described his laboratory facilities for testing bridge spans to obtain their aeroelastic properties.  Currently, there are – Santiago said – a number of interesting projects all around the world, many of them setting new records in terms of span length and new materials.  It took longer than 20 years after the famous Tacoma Bridge design for the profession to realise the importance of flutter.  The earlier understanding of the problem, as postulated by von Karman, produced what is now called von Karman Vortex Street, without pointing out the phenomenon of flutter.

Physical models of bridges are expensive to construct and run.  They do not always produce the best results due to problems of scale. Frequent design changes along the way make physical models difficult to use as they require constant modification.

Computational Fluid Dynamics software can also be used to understand the structure-fluid interactions such as the behaviour of the deck under wind.  They are not reliable for problems such as flutter, at the moment.

Because of that Santiago’s group proposed to combine experimental and computational methods.  The test is carried out using only a section of the deck to obtain the necessary coefficients to define that section as an element in a computer code.  The test is carried out in a comparatively small aerodynamic wind tunnel.

Flutter is the cancellation of the damping of the structure for a given wind speed.  As the speed of the wind increases the damping reduces, as was the case with the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.  Because of that it is necessary to compute the response of the bridge for different wind speeds and see when the damping becomes zero, obtaining in this way the higher wind speed that the bridge can undergo.

The advantage of Santiago’s approach is to require reduced laboratory facilities; testing is less expensive, costs are not related to bridge lengths, and the designer is given a better representation of flutter.

Both talks gave rise to a period of discussion with numerous questions and exchange of ideas amongst the participants.

The seminar was followed by a tour of the Wessex Institute premises, led by Carlos, who explained the work of the different departments.

Finally the members were offered a light lunch before departing.

The meeting was most successful and it is expected to lead to further collaboration amongst the participants.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Special Seminar on Fast and Larger BEM Solvers by Dr Pietro Fusco, WIT

Dr Pietro Fusco, WIT
A Special Seminar was held at Ashurst Lodge on methods for solving large systems of boundary elements equations. The speaker, Dr Pietro Fusco, started by explaining the motivation for the research and the type of solution proposed.

The work is part of the joint project between the Wessex Institute of Technology and the University of Bournemouth which aims to develop better solvers to improve the performance of BEM solutions.

A variety of methods were discussed by the speaker including domain decomposition combined with the use of parallel computing.

Pietro discussed ways in which the solution can be improved by handling the equations in a more efficient manner and developing better interfaces.

Another byproduct of this research project will be the combination of FEM and BEM domains to be able to take advantage of the best properties of each method.

The research will be focused on the solution of practical engineering problems based on the expertise acquired with the Boundary Element Analysis System (BEASY) developed at Ashurst Lodge.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Special Seminar on Energy Efficiency

Professor Todorka Samardzioska, from St. Cyril and Methodius University in the Republic of Macedonia, visited Ashurst Lodge to give a lecture on “Energy Efficient Buildings and Alternative Energy Sources”. Todorka received her PhD at WIT in 2006.
Prof Todorka Samardzioska

Energy efficiency in buildings requires optimization of heating and cooling, hot water systems, lighting and other energy demands. Nearly 60% of that energy is dedicated to heating and cooling in Macedonia.

The optimisation requires savings in energy demands, as well as the application of new technologies and the development of renewable energy resources. Insulation is an important component of energy efficiency.

Todorka has participated in a Smart Energy Project of the EU to reduce carbon emissions as well as optimise energy use. The aim of the EU project is to study the carbon emissions in Europe and propose ways to reduce them. A variety of building types were studied and different types of isolation proposed. The problem of the thermal bridges were particularly looked into and solutions proposed.

Todorka commented on the new types of external wall constructions applying higher levels of insulation. This includes the use of passive solar systems. They also include floor heating systems.

She stressed the importance of a multidisciplinary approach for solving energy problems. 

There were many questions following the lecture, giving rise to a lively discussion regarding different energy systems in the built environment.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Link with ITMO

Professor Carlos Brebbia, Director of Wessex Institute of Technology, visited St Petersburg’s National Research University of Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics of the Russian Federation (ITMO) to discuss collaboration between the two Institutions.
The Meeting was held with Dr Daria Kozlova, Vice Rector for International Relations, and Professor Maya Uspenskaya, Director of International Scientific and Research Institute of Bio-engineering.
Carlos explained the way in which his Institute works with different organisations around the world, including some of the most prominent in the Russian Federation. Areas of possible collaboration are the holding of scientific meetings and seminars in St Petersburg, production of books and other printed material and exchange of researchers.
Associate Prof Daria Kozlova, Prof Carlos Brebbia, and Prof Maya Uspenskaya at ITMO in St. Petersburg

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Meeting at Hospital Italiano in Buenos Aires

Professor Carlos Brebbia visited the Hospital Italiano Research facilities in Buenos Aires. The Meeting was hosted by Dr Daniel Luna, Chair of the HealthInformatics Department.
Dr Sonia Elizabeth Benitez, Prof Carlos Brebbia,
 Dr Dante Graña and Dr Daniel Luna
Carlos gave a Powerpoint presentation on the objectives of the Wessex Institute of Technology, and the importance of the Boundary Element Method in bio-engineering. He described some numerical experiments that can be carried out using a BEM Model of the human body or parts of it, such as the eye and other organs. Specific effects included the effects of different types of radiation on the body, including electromagnetic waves of various frequencies. Carlos explained how different parts of the human body can be modelled and then analysed to predict what is happening, using the properties of tissues, fluids, etc.
Carlos also mentioned WIT’s interest in Rapid Manufacturing, which relates to the design and analysis of implants. One can predict the life of an implant by using fatigue curves, combined with crack propagation.
Dr Luna explained that his research unit is interested in the preparation of patient records with a view to using them in data mining at a later date. Another important area of research is visualisation for surgical purposes, including computer robotic surgery.
The visit was highly successful and it is hoped that it will lead to further collaboration.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Impact and Blast Resistant Design Methods 2015

Recent events have highlighted the fragility and vulnerability of our infrastructure and environment to accidental explosions and terrorist attacks, and how important it is to continue to improve safety and security.

Professor Norman Jones FREng and Dr Graham Schleyer FIMechE from the University of Liverpool, School of Engineering recently delivered a short course on impact and blast resistant design methods over 5 days at the Wessex Institute of Technology to a group of participants from the UK, Canada, US, Pakistan, Turkey, France and Denmark.

This course was designed to equip professional engineers and researchers with the tools and methods to analyse and better understand problems in industry associated with large dynamic loads produced by a variety of energetic sources such as explosions, dropped objects and high velocity projectiles. Practical design examples and case studies were used throughout with reference to commonly used design manuals and codes of practice. Hands-on sessions were included to allow typical problems to be solved using spreadsheet analysis tools. Participants received the new edition of Prof Jones’ book on Structural Impact, together with other course literature. The material presented applied to structural crashworthiness, explosion mitigation, hazards evaluation and safety calculations throughout the civil, mechanical, nuclear, transportation, petrochemical and process industries.

The presenters are internationally recognised and accomplished in their field with experience in research and teaching over many years. The participants commented on how useful they found the course in view of the versatility and accessibility of the methods and appreciated the comprehensive set of notes and worked examples.

The next course will take place from 7-10 November 2016. For further details, please contact Jane Chantler,

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Delegation from Goluchow, Poland visits WIT campus

The Delegation was received by Professor Carlos A. Brebbia, who gave a brief introduction on the work carried out by the Institute, particularly in relation to research in advanced computational methods and their applications to industry.
The work of WIT Press was also discussed, including its books and international journal lists.
Carlos described the Conference Programme which consists of around 25 meetings per year in different locations around the world, including in the past Sczecin, Cracow and Poznan in Poland.
WIT also supports visits by different researchers who can be accommodated on Campus where they interact with members of the staff.
An important function of WIT is also the organisation of special courses and seminars, including those aimed at industry.
The delegates were then given a tour of the Campus where they had occasion to see the new installations, as well as the accommodation for researchers and visitors.