Siddhartha Verma, Ph.D., principal investigator and an assistant professor in the Department of Ocean and Mechanical Engineering within the College of Engineering and Computer Science. (Photo by Alex Dolce)

An interdisciplinary international collaboration between Florida Atlantic University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science and Technion – Israel Institute of Technology (Technion), will help to advance the understanding of the dynamics of turbulent coherent motions to solve various practical engineering problems. Turbulent flows have a significant influence on the efficient operation of ships, automobiles, and aircraft, as well as on the safe design of buildings, bridges and wind turbines.

FAU has received a $309,527 grant from the National Science Foundation to spearhead the project that will involve experimental work carried out at Technion, and numerical simulations and machine learning tasks conducted at FAU.

“The U.S.-Israel Binational Science Foundation is proud to support this important collaborative project on aerodynamics by early career scientists at both Technion and FAU. We note FAU’s commitment to partnering with eminent Israeli universities and this is the sixth award made out to FAU in recent years,” said Anton Post, Ph.D., executive director, U.S.-Israel Binational Science Foundation.

The main characteristic that defines turbulent flows is a strong coupling between large-scale structural flow features and fluctuations at extremely small length and time scales. A better understanding of this link across disparate scales is essential for modulating flow characteristics to improve the optimized efficiency of engineering designs and to reduce noise generation.

The joint project will leverage deep-learning algorithms both to facilitate the coordinated perturbation of the flow via a distributed array of moving surfaces on a cylindrical body and to extract the localized behavior of dynamically important coherent structures from the non-equilibrium system. The unique combination of unsteady flow forcing, distributed adaptive wall response, and deep-learning based control and analysis will offer a broad perspective on the dynamics of turbulent coherent motions.

“The primary aim of this project is to use experiments and computations to leverage novel control and analysis techniques to modulate turbulent flows, with the objective of reducing unsteadiness in bluff-body wakes,” said Siddhartha Verma, Ph.D., principal investigator and an assistant professor in the Department of Ocean and Mechanical Engineering within the College of Engineering and Computer Science. “The project also will provide an invaluable opportunity to promote early enthusiasm for science and engineering among high school students from underrepresented backgrounds, who will be hosted at a weeklong engineering summer camp where they will be introduced to various aspects of fluid mechanics that permeate our day-to-day lives.”

Students will be introduced to basic concepts in programming and controls and the camp will specifically emphasize participation from schools in underserved communities to encourage future STEM (science-technology-engineering-mathematics) career options for younger students, especially girls from underrepresented backgrounds. The collaboration also will promote close interaction between early-career graduate researchers to foster the exchange of cultural and scientific ideas, as well as establish a long-lasting scientific collaboration between Technion and FAU, which is a designated Hispanic-Serving Institution.

Verma is collaborating with Ian Jacobi, Ph.D., an assistant professor, Faculty of Aerospace Engineering; and Beni Cukurel, Ph.D., associate professor, Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, both with Technion. The research team will investigate unsteady interactions between large- and small-scale turbulent coherent structures around a cylindrical bluff body by combining distributed surface actuation with deep-learning techniques. The study will help address fundamental gaps in current knowledge regarding non-linear interactions that regulate the spatiotemporal evolution of coherent structures in separated turbulent flows. The FAU-Technion research also will develop a better understanding of the suppression of wake unsteadiness.

“We are delighted to be collaborating with the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, a global pioneer in multidisciplinary research,” said Stella Batalama, Ph.D., dean, College of Engineering and Computer Science. “The cutting-edge research that professors Verma, Jacobi and Cukurel will be conducting collaboratively will have important implications for improving turbomachinery, reducing the impact of underwater propulsion systems on delicate marine life, and mitigating noise from landing gears on civil aircraft. Moreover, underrepresented students will have the unique opportunity to participate in a hands-on program to learn about fluid dynamics, which applies to many fields from physics to astronomy to biology.”

FAU is the most racially, culturally and ethnically diverse university in Florida. In 2016, the FAU College of Engineering and Computer Science received designation as a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) by the United States Department of Education, only awarded to colleges and universities with enrollment of full-time Hispanic undergraduate students of at least 25 percent. This year, FAU’s College of Engineering and Computer Science was recognized as a national leader in diversity in engineering by the American Society of Engineering Education.


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