Undergraduate researcher applies binning to study aleatory uncertainty in nonlinear buckling foundation models


Sophomore undergraduate, Katharin Jensen, has developed an easily understood illustration of the effect of aleatory uncertainty, which means natural point-to-point variability in systems. She has put statistical variability on the lengths of buckling elements in the following system:


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Welcome new computational-mechanics professor Ashley Spear!


The University of Utah is pleased to welcome a multi-talented new computational mechanics professor: Ashley Spear, newly graduated from Tony Ingraffea’s group at Cornell.

Dr. Spear's work (in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon and Lawrence Livermore Lab) using the Advanced Photon Source to obtain synchrotron-based measurments of 3D crack evolution in polycrystalline materials.

Dr. Spear’s work (in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon and Lawrence Livermore Lab) using the Advanced Photon Source to obtain synchrotron-based measurments of 3D crack evolution in polycrystalline materials.

Dr. Spear is a published expert in high-performance multiscale computing as well as experimental materials characterization, which is a perfect counterpart to the University if Utah’s existing focus on macroscale constitutive modeling with high-performance simulations using the Material Point Method.

Check out Dr. Spear’s research and CV (with contact information) at http://mmm.mech.utah.edu/!





Public display of affection for Prof. Gib Richards

Dear Prof. Richards:

When I was still a teenager, you were my undergraduate advisor at the University of New Mexico (UNM). While seated in your office surrounded by rubber chickens, whoopee cushions, and other fanciful toys (which you had because of your side hobby of being a clown), I asked: “How can I know if I will ultimately enjoy a career in Mechanical Engineering?” You replied: “If you are willing to graduate one or two semesters late, then you can find the answer to that question by doing a co-op student internship.” To prepare me for this opportunity, your first action was to help me get a local internship at the Air Force Research Laboratory (then named Weapons Laboratory) at Kirtland AFB. You made telephone calls and otherwise worked your magic to get me into a co-op during the next summer at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where I quickly came to realize that it was the PhDs who were doing the most interesting and self-directed work. I also learned at Los Alamos that educated people have the self-discipline to NOT SMOKE CIGARETTES and to NOT USE SWEAR WORDS. My supervisor at Los Alamos furthermore advised me to go back to UNM and take as many classes as possible from Buck Schreyer, which likewise delightfully shaped my career. Thus, Prof. Richards, you deserve more credit than anyone else for pointing me in the direction of a healthy PhD track, ultimately leading to 14 years as a researcher at Sandia National Laboratories and (most recently) as a professor of Mechanical Engineering since 2007.

I still fondly recall being the first of your students to use computer-generated graphics and laser printing in my senior research report, but that didn’t distract you from fulfilling your promise to find ten grammar/spelling errors. Did you ever fail in that quest with any other student? You were the person who graded my co-op report upon my return to UNM, where you taught me that “finite elements” is only *sometimes* hyphenated, consequently launching a campaign of my own to explain hyphenation rules to others (see, for example, my blog article https://csmbrannon.net/2013/08/04/hyphenation-in-technical-or-other-writing/).

In summary, Prof. Richards, you have profoundly influenced my life! I love you for everything you have done for me and for countless other students.

Sincerely, Rebecca Brannon

Tip: How to set up videoconferencing with the CSM group

The following tutorial provides instructions for both the host (CSM group) and guest to set up videoconferencing.

METHOD 1 (for impromptu small meetings without graphics sharing)
Remote guest can make the request to Dr. Brannon, whose Skype name is rebecca.brannon

METHOD 2 (for extended multi-participant meetings with graphics sharing)

The Interactive Video Conferencing (IVC) equipment at the University of Utah allows us to connect to other people and places throughout the state and the world.

Host (CSM personnel) instructions:

The following steps are necessary for an IVC meeting:

  • To schedule an IVC meeting, the CSM personnel should contact the IVC through one of the following options:

1. call 435-879-4762

2. e-mail ivc@utah.edu

3. fill the forms here.

  • The IVC staff find an available room on campus and arrange a test call with the guest.
  • If the test connection is successful, the IVC staff schedule a connection for the actual meeting.
  • The CSM personnel should be trained on how to use the equipment. For this purpose, the IVC staff provide a short training session for the CSM personnel.

Guest instructions:

The guest should have the required equipment, and provide its IP number to the CSM personnel. The guest and the CSM personnel should be in contact to schedule a test call and troubleshoot any issue.

Recommended reading for aspiring writers

I’ve been doing a lot of writing lately.  I’ve come to believe that writing well is at least as important for engineers as calculus.  This past semester I took a dissertation writing class from the writing department here at the University of Utah.  It was very interesting to read dissertations from fields as diverse as literature, material science, nursing and nuclear engineering.  I think that it’s safe to say it was beneficial for everyone involved.  One nice resource that another student suggested, is a book title “The Elements of Style” by William Strunk and E.B. White.  Yes that’s E.B. White of “Charlotte’s Web” fame.  I picked up a copy of the book at the library and have found it an excellent, and readable, resource for writing well.  I’ve also discovered that nearly everyone else on the planet knew about it and I was somehow left in the dark.  So for any of you who might still be in the dark about this wonderful resource I highly recommend it.