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06-12-2015

Clarkson University Professors Win NSF Award for Research Fortifying Structures Against Coastal Water Disasters

Clarkson University Civil and Environmental Engineering Associate Professor Narutoshi Nakata and Professor Weiming Wu have received a National Science Foundation (NSF) award to research how to improve structural engineering for coastal water disasters.

Clarkson University Civil & Environmental Engineering Professor Weiming Wu, left, and Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Narutoshi Nakata are researching how to improve structures to better withstand coastal water disasters. Wu and Nakata received a National Science Foundation award to advance structural simulation for these hazards.Tsunamis, floods and high waves have resulted in casualties and extensive economic loss around the world, Nakata said, but not much is understood about how structures behave under coastal surge loads. The researchers have received a three-year, $276,000 grant from the NSF Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation program to advance structural simulation for these hazards.

"My research has been hazard mitigation from a structural engineering standpoint and how we understand the behaviors of the structure," Nakata said. "The main work we would be doing is integrating computational fluid dynamics with structural simulation and laboratory testing."

Existing structural simulation techniques are predominately developed to study earthquake loads, but are not suitable for fluid loads. Nakata's research will help to expand structural simulation to multi-hazard situations, including coastal water and high winds.

Ultimately, Nakata said, the goal is to reduce the economic loss and damage to the structure.

"Without a good understanding we can't improve the design code, and we can't reduce the economic cost," he said.

Nakata and Wu will be building structural models and demonstrating advanced simulation capabilities in Clarkson's structures lab over the next three years. One doctoral student, at least one master's student and undergraduate students will be involved in the project.

The combination of computational fluid dynamics and force-based testing will increase scientists' understanding of structural performance in storm surges and improve design practices. The team plans to integrate the research into education, training and outreach activities.

"A successful completion of the project will advance the field of structural engineering and hazard mitigation with needed simulation capabilities," Nakata said.

Nakata is a recipient of the 2010 NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award. He is currently the chair of the Hybrid Simulation Task Force Group and a member of the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) Steering Committee. This newly funded project will leverage his expertise developed through the NSF CAREER grant and align well with his committee efforts.

Wu is an expert in Computational Modeling of Free-Surface Flow and Sediment Transport. He published his book Computational River Dynamics in 2007. He is a Fellow of American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and serves as an associate editor for the prestigious Journal of Hydraulic Engineering of ASCE. Through this NSF project, he will contribute his expertise to flow and structure interactions and coastal hazard mitigation.  

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and the health professions, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: Clarkson University Civil & Environmental Engineering Professor Weiming Wu, left, and Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Narutoshi Nakata are researching how to improve structures to better withstand coastal water disasters. Wu and Nakata received a National Science Foundation award to advance structural simulation for these hazards.

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/wwu-nnakata.jpg .]

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or aharrison@clarkson.edu.]

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