The Conference on Numerical Methods in Engineering and Sciences recently took place in Buenos Aires, organised by the Faculty of Engineering of the National Technological University of Haedo.

The meeting, which was opened by the Dean of Engineering, Professor Victor Caballini, attracted a substantial number of participants.  Professor Caballini talked about the commitment of his School to research and advanced studies in the field of aeronautics, mechanical, electronic and industrial engineering.  Unfortunately Professor Caballini also had to announce the sudden departure of Professor Carlos A Carlassare, one of the main organisers of the conference, who passed away two days before the opening of the conference.  Professor Carlassare was instrumental in introducing numerical methods in the engineering curriculum, particularly finite elements, in which he became a well known expert. 

IMG_0647Professor Carlos A Brebbia, Director of Wessex Institute of Technology, gave two keynote addresses at the beginning of the conference.  During the first of them “Fundamentals of the Boundary Element Method”, he discussed the basis and historical background of the technique.  He stressed the developments that contributed to extending its range of applications, with particular reference to those originating at WIT, i.e. the Dual Reciprocity Method (DRM), the Multiple Reciprocity Method (MRM) and the Dual Boundary Element Method DBEM).  The first of these techniques opened up the possibility of transferring any domain integral to the boundary by the application of a series of particular solutions.  Multiple Reciprocity Method is fundamentally an analytical technique rather than an approximate method as DRM.  There the successive integration of the functions defining the internal effects leads to their description in terms of boundary values only.  The last of these developments originating at WIT, the Dual Boundary Element Method, has been essential to facilitating the use of BEM for fracture mechanisms, an approach of incalculable value for predicting the life of structural and mechanical components.

Professor Brebbia referred throughout his lecture to the scientists who set the basis for our mathematical understanding of engineering problems and in particular those who worked on boundary integrals.  He also mentioned the importance of the Russian mathematics and physics schools, the one at MIT and the centres in London and Southampton where the concepts of boundary integral equations were developed from the perspective of engineering sciences.  Professor Brebbia explained that although his first contact with integral equations came via the Italian schools, including the work of Volterra, his subsequent understanding of the method was in great part due to the MIT school on mixed formulations (Reissner, Connor) and the teaching of Hugh Tottenham at Southampton University, where Professor Brebbia set up the first Boundary Element Methods group in the early 1970s.

Boundary Elements, Professor Brebbia concluded, is now a well established technique based on the work of these pioneering centres and the computer implementation carried out at the Wessex Institute of Technology and other centres around the world.

IMG_0644The second keynote address by Professor Brebbia was entitled “Some applications of the Boundary Element Method to engineering and science” and consisted of a series of case studies, particularly on the topics of fracture mechanics and electrical problems, the latter with particular reference to cathodic protection applications, fields in which WIT has been very active.  Many well documented cases and forensic studies describing the analysis of mechanical, aerospace, offshore and other components are testimony to the maturity and accuracy of BEM.  Professor Brebbia spoke about the importance of being able to analyse complex systems, and commented on some of the cathodic protection simulation studies in deep waters carried out by the Institute.  Recent events in the Gulf of Mexico are witness to the importance of accurate analysis to avoid the need to carry out repairs in deep waters.  The boundary element model provides an elegant and efficient tool for the analysis of those systems in which the domain under consideration, i.e. the sea, which extends to infinity does not require discretisation as is the case with Finite Elements.

The conference also included a plenary address by Professor Eduardo Dvorkin of the University of Buenos Aires who talked about “Science and technology developments in Argentina”, presenting some interesting examples of advanced technology studies requiring the use of numerical methods, particularly finite elements.

IMG_0650The other conference papers concentrated on numerical methods for the solution of engineering problems in fields such as mechanical engineering, aerospace, biomedicine, chemical engineering, fluid dynamics, structural engineering and environmental problems.

The delegates had occasion to visit the Laboratory of the Faculty and participate in a series of social events, including a conference dinner with in a very friendly atmosphere.

WIT has a formal link agreement with the Technological University, Haedo, which will lead to further collaboration in the future.