Conferences draw 700 engineers from 25 nations to Vanderbilt
Computational mechanics, materials and risk and reliability loom large on session agenda
Engineers from 25 nations will return home from Vanderbilt with the most comprehensive, up-to-the-minute information available on predicting how well systems and infrastructure will stand up to stress — and new materials under development to make sure they can.
The Engineering Mechanics Institute Conference and the Probabilistic Mechanics & Reliability Conference opened Sunday at the School of Engineering and will run through May 25. Co-chairs Sankaran Mahadevan, John R. Murray Sr. Professor of Engineering, and Çağlar Oskay, assistant professor of civil engineering, bid on the conference two years ago and have been working on it since.
It’s challenging to coordinate technical and social programs for 700 attendees, Mahadevan said, but he didn’t hesitate when asked because – as leaders in the civil engineering research community – he and Oskay felt a responsibility to serve as hosts. But there were other reasons to do so, as well.
“When you bring such a large conference full of very well-known researchers from around the world to Vanderbilt University, it gets the word out about us internationally,” Mahadevan said. “That’s tremendous for the university.
The conferences cover a wide array of topics, but among the most discussed at both are computational mechanics; granular, bio-inspired and nano materials; structural health monitoring; and damage modeling.
Tuesday’s plenary lectures will be “On the Complexity of Elastic Waves Trapped in Convex Features,” delivered by Domniki Asimaki, professor of mechanical and civil engineering at Caltech; and “The Changing Dynamic of Wind Effects on Structures: A Transition to a Non-Stationary, Non-Linear and Non-Gaussian Outlook,” delivered by Ahsan Kareem, Robert Moran Professor of Civil Engineering and Geological Sciences at the University of Notre Dame.
The conference will end with an awards banquet.
“Vanderbilt is at the forefront of the research represented on the program, both from the mechanics aspects and the risk and reliability aspects,” Oskay said. “This event puts us in a unique position to show our leadership in these areas and showcase our students’ work.”
Researchers with Vanderbilt’s Laboratory for Systems Integrity and Reliability, located at Metro Center in Nashville, brought large displays to Featheringill Hall on the main campus so that conference attendees could see the work being done in those areas. A looping video produced at LASIR introduced the crowd to even more research.
Vanderbilt professors aren’t just behind hosting the conferences — some are on the agenda.
Mahadevan moderated a panel today on “Applications of Probabilistic Methods – Emerging Opportunities and Challenges.” It included Vanderbilt’s Douglas Adams, Daniel F. Flowers Professor and Distinguished Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
The first question was: What is the current state of the art of uncertainty methods in your application area?
“In the automotive area, I look at just the challenges with elastomers and managing variations in that,” Adams replied. “They don’t manage those variations very well because elastomers involve a global supply chain. So what do they do? Test. Now, there’s an even larger supply chain of materials going into state-of-the-art automotive composites. We have a lot of room for improvement.”
Hiba Baroud, an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, will speak Tuesday on a panel titled: “The Role of Uncertainty in Modeling Resilience.”
Heidi Hall, (615) 322-6614
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