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09 November 2006

Mott MacDonald fluid dynamics specialist awarded Royal Society Industry Fellowship to research bridge aerodynamics

Fluid dynamics specialist Dr Nicholas Waterson from engineering consultant Mott MacDonald has been awarded a Royal Society Industry Fellowship to progress his research into the computer simulation of bridge-deck aerodynamics. The project will be carried out in collaboration with the Aeronautics Department at Imperial College, London University, and will run for 16 months starting in November 2006.

As the design of long-span bridges and other slender structures becomes ever more ambitious, each new design stretches the available technology further. A key limiting factor in the performance of such structures is their tendency to move under the influence of aerodynamic forces in a manner governed by a complex interplay of the wind and structure. The use of computer flow simulation offers the possibility of both reducing the amount of expensive wind-tunnel testing required and achieving more effective designs through better insight and optimisation. At present the industrial use of the available technology is quite limited and this project aims to take it out of the realm of university research and into the design office as a practical tool.

The aim of the Royal Society Industry Fellowship is to enhance knowledge transfer in science and technology between those in industry and those in academia. It provides the opportunity for a scientist or engineer from industry to work on a collaborative project with a university department (and vice versa). It is anticipated that fellows will establish personal and corporate links between the two sectors in the UK as a foundation for their long-term future development.

Dr Waterson has more than 20 years experience in the development and application of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) techniques in the aerospace, process and construction industries. He leads a team within Mott MacDonald specialising in the application of flow simulation to the construction industry, including building, tunnel and train aerodynamics, smoke and fire spread and free-surface hydraulic flows.

“In addition to its ambitious technical goal, this project will strengthen and extend the relationship between one of the country’s leading engineering consultancies, Mott MacDonald, and one of its leading academic institutions, Imperial College”, says Dr Waterson.


Notes to the editors

1. This is Mott MacDonald’s second Industry Fellowship – Dr Paul Lambert has a fellowship to study corrosion in steel-framed structures with Sheffield Hallam University.

2. The Aeronautics Department at Imperial College is recognised as a leading department internationally with maximum 5* ratings in the last two research assessment exercises. Its research activities cover a broad spectrum of aeronautical and non-aeronautical topics and include a strong track record in both bluff-body aerodynamics and computational fluid dynamics (CFD).

3. The Royal Society is an independent academy promoting the natural and applied sciences. Founded in 1660, the Society has three roles: as the UK academy of science, as a learned Society and as a funding agency. It responds to individual demand with selection by merit, not by field. The Society’s objectives are to:

  • strengthen UK science by providing support to excellent individuals
  • fund excellent research to push back the frontiers of knowledge
  • attract and retain the best scientists
  • ensure the UK engages with the best science around the world
  • support science communication and education; and communicate and encourage dialogue with the public
  • provide the best independent advice nationally and internationally
  • promote scholarship and encourage research into the history of science
4. Industry Fellowships are funded by the Royal Society, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the Natural Environment Research Council, Rolls-Royce plc and Astra Zeneca.
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