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Graduate Student Fei Ding Awarded Thornton Tomasetti Student Innovation Fellowship

Allison Preston • DATE: June 11, 2018

Civil Engineering Student Fei Ding has been awarded the Thornton Tomasetti Student Innovation Fellowship. The Thornton Tomasetti Foundation was established in 2008 with a mission to fund fellowships, scholarships, and internships for undergraduate and graduate students. 

Ding will receive a $5,000 award to pursue innovative research related to structural engineering and applied mechanics. The Ph.D. student’s research area is in CFD-enabled aerodynamic shape optimization of structures under winds. Her proposal, titled “Autonomous Morphing of Structural Profile Under Winds,” focuses on the design of tall structures in complex wind environments.

“The future of tall buildings lies in defining structures that interact with their surroundings in order to create a sustainable urban habitat,” says Ding.

She plans to develop a computer-aided design platform allowing high-rise structures equipped with sensors and actuators to autonomously morph to enhance aerodynamic performance. 

“The proposed autonomous morphing technique would enhance building performance in near real-time under changing wind environment with immediate applications to bridges and other structures,” Ding says. 

After developing the design platform, she will validate this idea with experimental tests on small-scale structures.

 Ding’s research stems from witnessing the damaging effects typhoons have on high-rise buildings in Hong Kong. Working under the direction of Professor Ahsan Kareem, she modeled the autonomous morphing of buildings after the changing wing structures birds exhibit in different flight conditions. She first presented her idea at the 3rd Global Grand Challenges Summit in Washington D.C.

In the future, Ding hopes to continue conducting research in the area of computer-aided design of tall buildings in an academic institution or for a design firm.

“I look forward to extending my knowledge and collaborating with civil engineers to shape the future design of resilient and sustainable civil structures,” says Ding.