Technical Thrust Area

Large Scale Structural Systems and Optimal Design


The optimal design of large scale structural systems will enhance the survivability of man-made engineering systems and their interaction with natural phenomena. As such, a focus of this TTA is the reduction of the computation time of the forward problem solution using subscale models, reduced-order models, and/or the development of computational algorithms based on acceleration cards, e.g., GPUs. The computational power of the upcoming supercomputers will rely on these acceleration cards and thus porting current computational algorithms to support these cards is also of interest. Another focus of this TTA is the accurate modeling of failure of large scale structures across vast spatiotemporal scales: computational modeling of brittle or ductile failure initiation at the smallest scale and the accurate transition to the largest structural scale. Novel formulations and/or computational methods that effectively capture the complexity of fracture and damage phenomena are thus necessary. In addition, developments of novel optimization algorithms and design optimization formulations that efficiently handle a large number of design variables and various complex performance/fabrication constraints are vital. Finally, many large scale structural systems are subjected to a variety of environmental conditions, including mechanical, thermal, chemical, electromagnetic, and/or gravitational fields. Consequently, optimal design of such structures requires the development of new and advanced multiscale and multiphysics coupled computational algorithms.

Topics of interest in the context of materials and large scale structures include:

  • Topology optimization
  • Failure modeling
  • Multiscale and multiphysics modeling
  • High performance computing and algorithms for modern architectures
  • Subscale and reduced-order modeling


Chair: Pablo Seleson, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Vice-Chair: X. Shelly Zhang, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Members-at-Large: Patrick Diehl, Louisiana State University

George Gazonas, CCDC Army Research Laboratory

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Early-Career Colloquium

The USACM TTA on Large Scale Structural Systems and Optimal Design (Large-Scale) is hosting a monthly early-career colloquium on every first Wednesday of the month at 1PM Central Time.

Spring 2022 Colloquium Lineup

February 2, 2022: Prof. Narasimha Boddeti, Washington State University

March 2, 2022: Dr. Som Dhulipal, Idaho National Laboratory

April 6, 2022: Dr. Masoud Behzadinasab, Brown University


February 2, 2022: Prof. Narasimha Boddeti, Washington State University

Title: Optimal Design and Manufacture of Architected Fiber Reinforced Composites
Fiber reinforced composites (FRCs) are important advanced materials that are widely used in aerospace, naval and construction industries. FRCs possess a simple microstructure characterized by the fiber modulus, orientation, aspect ratio and volume fraction. Through deliberate variation of these microstructural parameters, a desired effective material response can be architected into the structure leading to an efficient use of the material and superior structural performance (i.e., lighter weight, stiffer, stronger, and tougher composites) akin to natural materials such as wood and bone. Advances in manufacturing technologies such as material extrusion additive manufacturing and automated fiber placement are now enabling the realization of such complex spatial variation of fiber-based microstructures. However, most design approaches either do not take complete advantage of this extended design freedom or fail to take fabrication constraints into account. We developed a novel design to manufacture framework that combines efficient design synthesis for architected composite structures via multiscale topology optimization and process planning for fabrication through novel computational geometry algorithms. Our approach enables design of complex, optimized composite shell structures and can be adapted to various manufacturing methods.
Bio: Narasimha (Na-ra-sim-ha) is an assistant professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from IIT, Kharagpur, India (2002-2006) and doctoral degree from University of Colorado, Boulder, USA (2009-2014). He was a postdoctoral scholar at CU Boulder and Singapore University of Technology and Design before joining WSU in 2020. His PhD research focused on adhesion mechanics of graphene while his current research focuses on developing design automation methods for additive manufacturing. His research interests include topology optimization, additive manufacturing, computational mechanics, architected materials, and soft robotics.


December 1, 2021: Prof. Jifu Tan, Northern Illinois University

Title: Multiphysics Modeling of Biological Flows with Cell Suspensions
Abstract: Fluid flows containing solid particles are common in engineering and biology, e.g., complex flow with cellular suspensions. The dynamic behavior in such phenomena is complex and poorly understood due to interactions between individual particles as well as interactions between the particles and the surrounding fluid and bounding walls. Moreover, the presence of highly deformable particles, such as blood cells, vesicles and polymers, make it particularly challenging to accurately describe the dynamics in such systems. In this presentation, a massively parallel Multiphysics simulation platform developed on popular open-source code will be introduced to simulate such complex flows. The fluid flow was solved by the Lattice Boltzmann method (LBM), while the solid deformation and diffusion were simulated by particle-based solver. The coupling was achieved through the immersed boundary method (IBM) so that different physics can exchange information with each other. The developed simulation framework was validated with various analytical solutions and experiments and shown to scale almost linearly over thousands of processors. Applications are given in drug delivery, cancer cell detection in microfluidics, and blood flow in a retina vascular network, demonstrating an efficient way of simulating coupled multi-physics problems.
Bio: Dr. Jifu Tan currently is an assistant professor in Mechanical Engineering at Northern Illinois University. Before that, he was a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. He obtained his Ph.D. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Lehigh University in 2015 and 2012, respectively. He received his B.S. degree in Civil Engineering from Beijing Jiaotong University in 2007. His primary research interest is fluid structure interaction and its application in engineering and medicine, such as nanoparticle delivery, blood flow modeling, thrombosis and bleeding simulation, microfluidic device design for cell separation. He is also interested in high performance computing, multiscale modeling, and data driven models. He is actively engaged in developing open-source code for scientific research.

November 3, 2021: Prof. Matthew J. Zahr, University of Notre Dame

Title: High-Order and Reduced-Order Methods for Improved Engineering Analysis and Design
Abstract: Optimization problems governed by partial differential equations are ubiquitous in modern science, engineering, and mathematics. They play a central role in optimal design and control of engineering systems, data assimilation, and inverse problems. However, as the complexity of the underlying PDE increases, efficient and robust methods to compute the objective function and its gradient become paramount. To this end, I will present a model reduction framework to reduce the time and resources required to solve optimization problems governed by PDEs. The framework is demonstrated in the context of aerodynamic shape optimization and structural topology optimization. In addition, I will demonstrate the role of optimization in computational physics extends beyond traditional design and control problems. I will introduce a novel optimization-based numerical method for high-order accurate approximation of PDE solutions with non-smooth features, e.g., flows with shock waves and fracture of solid media. I will demonstrate the method with a suite of two- and three-dimensional compressible flow problems and discuss the extension to fracture. In all cases, discontinuities in the flow are fit to high-order accuracy with curved mesh elements, which leads to accurate solutions on extremely coarse meshes.
BioMatthew is an assistant professor in the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Notre Dame. He received his PhD in Computational and Mathematical Engineering from Stanford University in 2016 and from 2016-2018 was the Luis W. Alvarez Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Mathematics at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. His research interests include high-order methods for computational physics, PDE-constrained optimization, model reduction, and numerical methods for resolving shocks and discontinuities. In 2020, he received the AFOSR Young Investigator Award.

October 6, 2021: Prof. Evgueni T. Filipov, University of Michigan

Title: Simulating Shape Morphing Origami: Kinematics, Mechanics, and Multi-Physics
Abstract: Origami principles for folding of thin sheets can create a variety of deployable, reconfigurable, and adaptable three-dimensional structures. Practical applications range from metamaterials and biomedical micro-robotics, to large-scale deployable architecture. This talk will present my group’s work in creating analytical models for simulating morphing origami-inspired structures at multiple scales. The models are computationally efficient because they use a simplified bar and hinge framework to capture the geometry of the origami, yet they are capable of simulating kinematics, mechanics, and multi-physical behaviors of the origami. The models can capture highly nonlinear behaviors including contact, multi-stability, active actuation, and electro-thermo-mechanical coupling. The talk will present scenarios of how we apply these tools to real world analysis and design problems. We simulate self-assembly of micro-robots, evaluate the stiffness-to-weight ratio of origami structures, and explore the complex stiffness anisotropy in origami with curved creases.
Bio: Evgueni Filipov is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. His research interests are focused on the underlying mechanics of origami-inspired deployable and reconfigurable structures. These mechanics are employed to improve stiffness, functionality, and manufacturing of the folded systems. He holds MS and PhD degrees in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a BS from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He has received the NSF CAREER Award (2020), the DARPA Young Faculty Award (2018), the Cozzarelli Prize from the National Academy of Sciences (2015), and the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Learn more about his research at his lab’s website:

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