The Wind Engineering and Experimental Aerodynamics (WEEA) Program at ISU focuses on the study of fluid-structure interaction problems that include, mainly the detrimental effects of wind on civil and mechanical structures, and the environment, and a wide range of aerospace-related research.
Tornados, thunderstorm outflows, and frontal winds that occur in most of the U.S. mainland and hurricanes that make landfall along the U.S. coastline cause about 70% of the total insured loss due to all natural hazards in the United States. For example, each year an average of 800-1000 tornados occur and cause 80 deaths, 1500 injuries, and $850 million worth of damage, whereas thunderstorms cause an estimated property damage of $1.4 billion/year in the U.S. The state of Iowa and other central states are particularly vulnerable to these types of wind.Iowa is 9th most prone tornado state with an average of approximately $50 million of damages every year.
The primary goal of wind engineering research in this program is to conduct comprehensive studies of near-ground winds generated by tornados, thunderstorms, hurricanes and gust fronts and assess their damaging effects on built structures and developed lands (including farmland), with the purpose of improving their design to reduce damaging effects. Wind Engineering is a multi-disciplinary field of study that requires involvement of researchers from various departments of engineering, environmental and atmospheric sciences, economics, statistics and architecture. Tools such as wind tunnels and computational fluid dynamics, combined with analytical and statistical methods, are used to solve the relevant problems.
Experimental aerodynamics activities in the lab include the development of flow diagnostics tools and techniques and the design and testing of aircraft and aircraft components. The work in the lab utilizes the latest in thermal and optical (including PIV) diagnostic techniques and several other instruments. Outside of the typical aerospace activities, the lab has also been involved in various projects involving ground-vehicle aerodynamics.
The WEEA program at ISU is unique by virtue of its location in the Department of Aerospace Engineering. It gains from the synergism of the existing strengths of this department in solid, fluid and experimental mechanics, aerodynamics, vibrations and aeroelasticity, computational fluid dynamics, computational mechanics and composite structures – areas that are essential for its success. This program has received significant funding from the US National Science Foundation since its inception in 2000.