Engineering at FIU

A Florida university and an insurer that incurred hundreds of millions of dollars in losses during recent hurricanes are teaming up to find ways to help buildings survive massive storms. Their tool: Giant fans.


Selected clippings, results of media relations campaigns by Maya Plentz for FIU

Placement: Wall Street Journal

From Fans’ Whirlwind, Researchers Reap Data to Brace Homes

MIAMI — A Florida university and an insurer that incurred hundreds of millions of dollars in losses during recent hurricanes are teaming up to find ways to help buildings survive massive storms. Their tool: Giant fans. Link to full story



Editing and Distribution of Press Release Announcing Partnership

AIR Worldwide Collaborates with FIU to Understand Impact of Hurricanes
LENGTH: 799 words

AIR Worldwide Corporation (AIR) announced today that is collaborating with the International Hurricane Research Center (IHRC) and the College of Engineering and Computing at Florida International University (FIU), to fund the installation of the “AIR Turntable” for the “Wall of Wind” (WOW) hurricane simulator. The AIR Turntable is a computer controlled, mechanical platform which will be used to better evaluate extreme wind loading conditions by facilitating the testing of buildings at different angles of attack. The AIR Turntable will be programmed to simulate directionality-change effects on test structures.

“Just as the effective monitoring of car crash tests drastically changed automobile safety through the introduction of air bags, the IHRC research team intends to do the same for the housing industry through full-scale testing of buildings and their components,” said Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, IHRC Director, adding that “the WOW testing aided by the capabilities of the AIR Turntable will revolutionize our residential and commercial construction and retrofitting practices and lead to more effective methods of strengthening buildings against extreme winds.”

The WOW structure includes an array of six industrial fans capable of replicating Category 4 hurricane conditions with winds up to 140 miles per hour. The simulation will allow scientists to study the impact of hurricane-force winds and wind-driven precipitation on a variety of building types and materials, as well as construction methods.

The AIR Turntable is part of the WOW facility which is under constructed on the Engineering campus of Florida International University. The state-of-the art testing facility will enable full-scale structural testing. By eliminating scaling errors, full-scale testing provides a more realistic simulation, which is crucial to better understanding the effects of extreme winds on buildings, materials, and construction methods.

Although several universities and government laboratories have experimental and testing facilities for wind engineering, no other facility in the U.S. is currently capable of testing full-scale buildings to destruction.

“AIR is committed to researching mitigation technologies in order to reduce the vulnerability of properties in extreme wind events such as hurricanes,” said Jayanta Guin, senior vice president of research and modeling at AIR Worldwide. “The findings from this research project should lead to improved mitigation strategies and better building methods, which will ultimately help reduce economic losses from future catastrophes.”

The testing facility is slated to be completed in late Summer 2007. The WOW project is also supported by Renaissance Reinsurance (RenaissanceRe) Holdings Ltd. and the State of Florida Division of Emergency Management (FLDEM).

About AIR Worldwide Corporation

AIR Worldwide Corporation (AIR) is a leading risk modeling company helping clients manage the financial impact of catastrophes and weather. Utilizing the latest tools, AIR models natural catastrophes in more than 40 countries. Other areas of expertise include site-specific seismic engineering analysis, catastrophe bonds, and property replacement cost valuation. An ISO business, AIR was founded in 1987 to provide insurance, reinsurance, corporate, and government clients a complete line of risk modeling software and consulting services that produce consistent and reliable results. Headquartered in Boston, AIR has offices in North America, Europe, and Asia.

About the International Hurricane Research Center

The International Hurricane Research Center (IHRC) is an interdisciplinary research center focused on the mitigation of hurricane damage to people, the economy, and the built and natural environment. Established by the State Legislature in 1995, the IHRC at Florida International University is the Type 1 Center for hurricane research in the State of Florida.

About the College of Engineering and Computing at FIU

Florida International University is one of the 25 largest universities in the U.S. and is ranked as a Research University in the High Research Activity category of the Carnegie Foundation’s prestigious classification system.

The College of Engineering and Computing at FIU offers more than 30 degrees through its baccalaureate, master and doctoral programs. It is ranked within the top 50 Universities producing engineers at the master’s level in the US.

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FIU Leads Building of “Future House” In China for the 2008 Olympic Summer Games

By Maya Plentz

MIAMI, FL (April 5, 2007) – The College of Engineering and Computing at Florida International University was chosen to represent the US in the Future House Community Project in Beijing, China.

The Future House an initiative of the Chinese government in partnership with the public and private sectors, will include houses from ten countries, which will be built near the site of the 2008 Olympic Summer Games.

Other countries that will present environmentally sound houses are Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain and Sweden. Each country will design and build a house that reflects its national technological capacity and aesthetic sensibility.

“It is a distinct honor to be selected by the Chinese government as the only university to represent the United States in the project,” said Dr Yong Tao, Undergraduate Program Director of the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Florida International University.

Dr. Tao and another FIU’s College of Engineering faculty member, Dr. Yimin Zhu, from the Construction Management Program, will direct the design and construction of the Future House – USA Project.

FIU’s model is inspired on Frank Lloyd Wright’s environmentally responsible design and by principles of Feng Shui, an ancient Chinese tradition of building in harmony with the Earth’s elements.

The FIU led U.S. team will incorporate a wide range of features from ultra-efficient geothermal heat pumps to passive and active solar systems. Despite the extensive use of advanced technologies, construction costs are consistent with those of homes that do not include such features.

The Ministry of Construction of the People’s Republic of China is the main sponsor of the “Future House Community Project.” FIU was invited to participate after students from the College of Engineering built an environmentally friendly house and won first place, in the Energy Balance category, at the 2005 National Solar Decathlon in Washington, D.C. The competition required students to design, build and operate a solar- powered house.

Construction of the U.S./FIU Future House started on march 16th, and will be completed for the 2008 Games. After the Olympic Games, FIU and other organizations will use the house for workshops and training activities.

FIU is teaming with the Alternative Energy Living Foundation in Moline, Illinois, the National Defense Council Foundation in Washington, D.C., the American Council on Renewable Energy, the Consumer Energy Alliance and the Environmental Study Institute.


Dean of Engineering at FIU Receives Prestigious HENAAC Award

By Maya Plentz

Miami, FL (August 6, 2007) – The Executive Dean of the College of Engineering and Computing at Florida International University, Dr. Vish Prasad, is this year’s recipient of the prestigious University Educator Award from the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Conference (HENAAC), the national organization that recognises leadership in education and the engineering field.

Wide support from industry leaders, for his tireless efforts leading to the increase of Hispanic enrollment in the College of Engineering and Computing, was received.

Mr. Adalio Sanchez, General Manager of Systems and Technology Group at IBM, said of Dr. Prasad: “IBM and the College of Engineering and Computing at FIU have a common goal: to create leadership opportunities for Hispanic students in engineering and Dr. Prasad was instrumental in reaching that goal in the last 6 years.”

Dr. Prasad is one of the founding members of the Latin American and Caribbean Consortium of Engineering Institutions (LACCEI), a regional organisation that seeks to develop standards of engineering education throughout Latin America and the Caribbean to better prepare engineers for the challenges of the global marketplace.

Dr. Prasad will be honored at the HENAAC Awards ceremony in October, and throughout other events at the Town & Country Resort & Convention Center in San Diego.

About Florida International University:

Florida International University is one of the 20 largest universities in the U.S. The College of Engineering and Computing at FIU offers more than 30 degrees through its baccalaureate, master and doctoral programs. From 2002 to 2007 the College has been awarded nearly $50 million in external research funding from a variety of government agencies and corporate sources.

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