Simulating reality

3 October 2013

Strand7 used global analyses to perform elasto-plastic analysis of the beams within the Beijing Olympics Water Cube. [Image supplied by Strand7].
Strand7 used global analyses to perform elasto-plastic analysis of the beams within the Beijing Olympics Water Cube. [Image supplied by Strand7].

Incredible feats such as the successful salvage of the stricken Costa-Concordia are in part due to computational mechanics designed by Australian engineers according to University of Sydney engineering experts who will host the inaugural Australasian Conference for Computational Mechanics this week 3-4 October.

As many as 200 industry and academics specialists attending the two-day conference will address a discipline dealing with issues ranging from subsea pipelines to intracranial aneurysms.

Conference chair, University of Sydney lecturer and Strand7 Pty Ltd director, Professor Grant Steven, says computational mechanics (CM) has had a profound impact on science and technology and now plays a pivotal role in the analysis, development and design of new manufacturing techniques, communications, transportation and biomedical technologies.

"Nowadays no product is taken to market without major CM simulation or a 'day in its life'. Cars, aircraft, toothbrushes, even designer label shoes are tested for their strength and durability." "All this is done by simulating the physics of a product, the laws of nature so to speak, via computer simulations, "states Professor Steven.

From its emergence in the 1960s the discipline has matured and now dominates the engineering process, Professor Stevens states.

Associate Professor Qing Li, co-convenor of the conference and computational biomedical expert says: "Computer-assisted modelling can be applied to simulate interaction of living tissues with prosthetic therapy. Models generated for analysis by surgical teams assist in determining the best treatment for patients.
"Surgical strategies can be simulated and possible short or long term outcomes can be predicted by computational mechanics approaches before a single step in the actual surgery is taken," says Professor Li.

"Its effectiveness in solving real-world problems and its ability to provide deeper understandings of natural phenomena and engineered systems is what makes it so exciting," Professor Li says.

CM methods are also used to study functional materials, atmospheric changes, ocean currents, surface flow in rivers, subsurface flows in oil reservoirs, the simulation of a supernova or explosion of a star, or geological phenomena such as the movement and evolution of polar ice caps or the tectonic plates. It allows engineers and scientists to understand very sophisticated systems with a large range of spatial and temporal scales, from macro, micro to nano levels.

The first of its kind regional conference is also a unique opportunity for young students, future leaders in the discipline, to present, and receive awards for, their ideas. It will showcase new perspectives of computational mechanics development and grow the local society.

The conference has been supported by several key businesses and industry bodies including Strand 7, Australian Association for Computational Mechanics, and International Association on Computational Mechanics. CM is based upon quantum, molecular and biological mechanics and has an enormous potential for future growth and applicability

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