Tag Archives: engineering

International Union of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics symposium 12-15 Feb

The University of Canterbury will host the IUTAM symposium on “Moving Boundary Problems in Mechanics” from 12-15 February 2018.

The mission of IUTAM – the International Union of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics – is to encourage the development and application of all branches of the science of mechanics throughout the world.

The symposium, co-chaired by Dr Stefanie Gutschmidt and Associate Professor  Mathieu Sellier of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, is the second symposium ever to be organized in New Zealand. It is an exciting opportunity to showcase the University of Canterbury new premises, in particular the newly built Engineering Core and lab facilities.

Approximately 60 international experts in applied mechanics, fluid mechanics, and engineering science from over 17 countries will gather to further develop analytical, experimental, and computational methods and push the boundaries of moving boundary problems in mechanics.

Understanding boundary problems

Many problems in mechanics involve deformable domains with moving boundaries.

  • An archetypical example would be how the sail of boat deforms in response to the wind to produce a resultant aerodynamic force. The complex fluid-structure interaction between the flowing air and the sail’s internal stress leads to given deformation of the sail.
  • Other examples include flows with a free surface, flows over soft tissues and textiles, flows involving accretion and erosion, flows through deformable porous media, material forming, shape optimization, to name but a few.

The interaction of the moving boundary with the participating media leads to fascinating phenomena in a broad range of contexts such as wing flutter, wave-breaking, sand dune formation, ripple formation on the ocean floor, flow instabilities, structure resonance and failure, atherosclerosis, ice formation on aircraft wings, etc .

Understanding this two-way interaction is a challenge of modern mechanics. 

Throwing rocks at research

In a small, unassuming container on  Ilam
campus, rocks are being fired at building materials to
simulate a volcanic eruption. Associate Professors Ben Kennedy and Thomas Wilson and PhD student Mr George Williams are putting exterior building claddings to the test with the help of a full-scale ballistics cannon.

The cannon can accurately fire rocks at the same velocity as
they would be flung from a volcano – about 160 kilometres per hour.

(Below: PhD student Mr George Williams and Associate Professor Thomas Wilson.)

Chronicle George Williams Thomas Wilson

“It can fire rocks at the actual speed they come out of a volcano, andin turn we can work out the exact velocity and masses required to puncture holes in roofs, and also work out what the danger might be to people beneath those roofs,” says Associate Professor Kennedy.

The team has tested a number of building materials, including roofing iron, timber weatherboards and concrete slabs, with
quite destructive results. However, as George points out, that doesn’t necessarily mean rocks will breach buildings during a
volcanic eruption.

“I was testing just a single layer of sheet metal, for instance, and if you lower the speed just a little bit that drastically reduces its energy and its potential to keep carrying on through the house,” he says.

The programme of study, which has been building over the last five to eight years, is collecting empirical data in a controlled environment. Its focus is on three specific elements:

  • the hazard (rocks falling out of the sky)
  • what assets are exposed
  • what relates the first two elements, the vulnerability of built infrastructure and how much it can sustain.“Generally the New Zealand components performed better and were stronger than more fragile overseas infrastructure, which is probably due to our building systems to meet earthquake standards,” says Associate Professor Wilson.

    “Although volcanic eruptions rarely occur in a built environment the value of the research is immeasurable, particularly for advice if people are trapped in buildings, where is the safest place to take cover?

    “It will help us better design for disasters.Fundamentally it should help us save lives.”

Lane Neave LawTech Bootcamp

The UC Centre for Entrepreneurship (UCE) has a new opportunity for students—the Lane Neave LawTech Bootcamp.

170601_LawTech Bootcamp

As the digital world continues to evolve, technology plays an increasingly central role in how customers do business and how law firms deliver their services. Technology can make legal advice and services more accessible, quicker, and cheaper. It is now more important than ever for law firms to meet the market through the smart use of technology.

Taking place in Term 3, from Friday 11 to Sunday 13 August, the Bootcamp brings teams of students together from a range of disciplines where they will work to develop tech-based solutions for the legal sector. The weekend will finish with student teams pitching their strategies to a judging panel and the chance to take away a share of the $3,000 prize pool.

This opportunity is open to all current UC students from all levels and areas of study. However, it may be of particular interest to students in law, management, marketing, information systems, computer science, and/or software engineering disciplines.

If you know any students who would be interested in this Bootcamp, please forward this information on or direct them to the UCE website. Applications are now open and are closing at 12pm (noon) on Friday 28 July. Students can apply by completing the online application form.

Additionally, if you are an academic with expertise that may be beneficial to the cause and would like to get involved in this competition, contact Michelle Panzer at michelle.panzer@canterbury.ac.nz ext. 93404

First look inside the Core

Staff were able to walk through the new Engineering Core building for the first time during a special open session yesterday.

Eye-catching design, bold use of colour and a variety of flexible spaces deliver students great opportunities to hang-out, study and connect with others.

The building will act as the hub of the Engineering precinct – connecting the four different wings and creating a social and administration space to bring students together. Staff and students will be moving in soon.

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Engineering CORE building, progress photography as work finishes and furniture is moved in. 7.2.17 Client, Jann O'Keefe and Clare Burgess.

Erskine, Cambridge and Oxford Visiting Fellows to arrive next week at UC

The Erskine Programme is pleased to announce the arrival of more visitors to UC next week.

Arriving on 1 February will be Professor Yuris Dzenis, visiting the Department of Mechanical Engineering from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln (USA) . Also arriving on 1 February and visiting the Department of Civil and Natural Resources Engineering will be Associate Professor Brady Cox from the University of Texas, and Professors David Hill and Kendra Sharp from Oregon State University.

Visiting Cambridge Fellow Dr Poul Christoffersen will arrive on 1 February and will be teaching in Gateway Antarctica, and on 3 February, Visiting Oxford Fellow Dr Ian Thompson will be joining the School of Teacher Education.

We wish all Visiting Fellows and their families a warm welcome.