Views and Visions: Posts from our People
Windy in the US
During the last week of May, I had the opportunity to travel to Florida to attend the Americas Conference on Wind Engineering. The conference, held at the University of Florida at Gainesville brought together wind engineering researchers and professionals to share and discuss topics such as wind loading on low-rise buildings, high rise and super tall buildings, meteorology and catastrophe modelling.
The US and Canada are major centres of wind engineering internationally and the majority of literature on testing of light framed structures (i.e. houses) originates from North America. The conference was a unique opportunity to validate and improve the methods and testing used so far in my PhD research
Both I and Dr Daniel Smith from the James Cook University Cyclone Testing Station presented our Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC research. My presentation on my current work on progressive failures to wind loads was well received and sparked much interest among the audience. These progressive failures occur when few roof connections fail and load is redistributed to neighbouring connections, overloading them and resulting failure of a large number of connections in rapid succession. Such failures under wind loading are complex processes and current methods to account for such failures in catastrophe models can be improved.
Discussions with leading academics from the US and Canada have strengthened the already close ties between Australian and North American wind engineering research. One of the highlights of the conference was a tour of the Powell labs at the University of Florida. These wind engineering labs have recently been upgraded and include a boundary layer wind tunnel with a ‘Terra Former’ – an innovative method of simulating terrain roughness for scale model tests.
Following the conference, I had the opportunity to visit the 'Wall of Wind' testing facility at Florida International University in Miami. The 'Wall of Wind’ uses an array of 12 high flow rate industrial fans to generate wind speeds in excess of 200km/h. Spires and roughness elements are then used to create the same turbulence characteristics that occur during hurricane winds. Scale models and even full-scale buildings can be tested to determine wind loads, structural damage and water ingress using specialised water jets in the test section.
Visiting the labs at the University of Florida and Florida International University was a great way to meet the researchers involved and may lead to future collaboration with the Cyclone Testing Station.
The whole trip was an amazing opportunity for me, and thanks again to the CRC for contributing with a travel support grant.