Prof Carlos Brebbia, Director of the Wessex Institute of Technology, gave a special seminar at the Faculty of Engineering, University of Split, on the work of WIT and the latest developments in Boundary Element research.
Carlos was introduced by Prof Zeljko Domazet, Dean of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture. WIT has a well established link agreement with that Faculty and is currently organising a series of conferences and other initiatives with the University of Split.
Carlos started by explaining the motivation behind the creation of WIT and its commitment to advanced computational engineering research of relevance to industry. Its objective is to act as a link between academic research and industry. The medium is through the different divisions which now operate within the Institute, ie Studies Division, Damage Mechanics, Fluid and Environmental Engineering and Industrial Research. The Studies Division has been particularly successful in organising a very active programme of conferences, seminars and workshops all over the world. Two of the conferences, The World Conference on Boundary Element Methods (BEM) and the Computational Methods for Electrical and Electromagnetic Applications (ELECTROCOMP) are being organised in Split as a consequence of the links between that University and WIT.
The original research in Boundary Elements done by Carlos, an idea that he proposed in 1977, gave the foundations for the Wessex Institute of Technology, which was formally launched in 1986 after a gestation period of approximately five years. The financial support for the Institute came through the activities of one of the companies now in the Group, ie the originators of the Boundary Element Code (BEASY), now widely used in industry. The other company that supported WIT was the Publishing Division, now called WIT Press, and a major producer of advanced scientific and technical books in the field of computational engineering. The number of titles now published per year has increased to 50 of which approximately half are conference proceedings, while the other half are monographs or edited books. WIT Press continues to prosper and is becoming more involved with Electronic Marketing and publishing, activities which will reflect well in the conference proceedings that they produce.
Carlos explained in detail the strategy of WIT and its commitment to continue to grow as a centre for transfer of technology at an international level.
Carlos chose several examples to demonstrate the strength of the research at WIT. One was the case of the electrical and electromagnetic portion of the BEASY industrial code which is being constantly improved based on research produced by the Institute and supported by industry. The code can now solve and optimise complex cathodic protection systems in ships and offshore structures as well as model magnetic signatures of ships and boats. Numerous versions of this code have been sold throughout the world and the system is being expanded driven by the demands of industry. WIT originated the development of BEM codes for cathodic protection, a problem which has been singularly successful for BEM as it involves modelling a problem tending to infinity.
Another example discussed by Carlos was the development of stress intensity factors and crack propagation techniques using BEM. Considerable advances have been made in this regard in the last few years at the Institute using BEM. WIT was the first to propose the use of hypersingular elements for cracks, which allow the modelling of a fissure without having to use artificial internal boundary, as was the case in the past. The use of these elements, in conjunction with discontinuity led to techniques by which the crack propagation could be modelled. These advanced methods now implemented in BEASY are specially important for life prediction studies, essential in aerospace and which are now more frequently used in automotive and other engineering branches.
Carlos ended by explaining WIT's strategy and, in particular, its intention to expand the activities in other countries. At present, the Institute has an office in Boston, which has operated successfully since its beginning. Its success is indicative of the common scope for international collaboration in other locations.
The meeting closed with a general discussion of some technical and scientific aspects of Carlos' work.