Computational Fluid Dynamics,
Simulation & Computational Tools

SimCenter Series: Natural Hazards Engineering 101
June 12, 2017 | 11am - 12pm PDT


Overview of Computational Fluid Dynamics, Simulation, and Computational Tools in Wind Engineering

Fluid-structure interactions in wind engineering are complex and multi-scale with nonlinear interactions among different scales, which preclude a functional relationship between wind and its effects on built environment. The presence of atmospheric turbulence with eddies of various sizes contributes to additional complexity as summarized by Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci, “…the smallest eddies are almost numberless, and large things are rotated only by large eddies and not by the small ones, and small things are turned by small eddies and large.” In view of these challenges, physical modeling in wind tunnels have traditionally served as a most reliable source of quantifying wind load effects. In digital age with burgeoning growth in computational resources and parallel advances in computational fluid dynamics, computational methods are evolving with a promise of becoming a most versatile, convenient and reliable means of assessing wind loads effects. CFD based simulations provide information non-intrusively on quantities of interest at any location in the domain, whereas it is limited to only sensor locations in wind tunnels. In order to realize this potential, assurance of robustness and accuracy of numerical simulations is critical before the physical simulations in wind tunnels are relegated to simply validation of final designs. To usher new advances in the digital domain, the NSF’s NHERI SimCenter is designed to develop the next-generation of computational modeling and simulation software tools and web-enabled workflow management frameworks. These would be delivered to the community of users through Discovery Workspace at the NHERI’s CI Center DesignSafe.

In this context, the seminar will provide a rudimentary background of wind-structure interactions. This will be followed by a guided tour of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) with a focus on wind engineering applications. The success in numerically capturing the complexity of massively separated flows around structures compounded by multi-scale fluctuations in the flow due to turbulence and their nonlinear interactions will be discussed in light of the three main approaches central to CFD, i.e., RANS, LES and DNS. An overview of the relative success of CFD in aerospace engineering and the current state-of-the-art in wind engineering will be presented by delineating the differences in the approach flow conditions and the streamline nature of bodies versus bluff profiles. Also, CFD applications that integrate other emerging computational and machine learning tools will be presented in examples of shape optimization of structural form, uncertainty quantification and multi-fidelity modeling will be presented.

Briefly, the presentation will offer a quick overview of a virtual wind tunnel under development at SimCenter along with a preview of stochastic simulations and database enabled design will be presented.

If you have questions or concerns, please contact Erika Donald,


Dr. Ahsan Kareem
Ahsan Kareem is the Robert M. Moran Professor of Engineering and the Director of the NatHaz Modeling Laboratory at the University of Notre Dame. His work focuses on characterization and formulation of dynamic load effects due to wind, waves and earthquakes on tall buildings, long span bridges, offshore structures and other structures via fundamental experimental, laboratory and full-scale measurements utilizing cyber and cyber-physical infrastructures.

He is elected President of the International Association for Wind Engineering (IAWE). He has been awarded numerous honors, including the Presidential Young Investigator Award from the White House Office of Science and Technology. A recipient of ASCE’s: Theodore von Karman Medal, Masanobu Shinozuka Medal, James Croes Medal, Robert H. Scanlan Medal and Jack E. Cermak Medal and State-of-the-Art Award, inducted to the Offshore Technology Conference Hall of Fame and Distinguished Member of ASCE; Alan G. Davenport Medal of IAWE; Distinguished Research Award of IASSAR (Int’l Assoc. for Structural. Safety and Reliability); the University of Notre Dame. He has served as a High-End Foreign Expert at Tongji University and delivered 2013 Scruton Lecturer at the Institute of Civil Engineers, London, UK. He has been appointed Honorary Professor at several universities overseas, serves on the Editorial Board of several international journals and has recently co-authored two books. He is an elected Member of the US National Academy of Engineering.


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