Supported Projects

Project Highlight: Cyber-physical Design and Optimization in Wind Engineering

Researchers at the University of Maryland and University of Florida are collaborating on a project to deliver a cyber-physical systems (CPS) approach to the optimal design of wind-sensitive structures. The approach combines the accuracy of physical wind tunnel testing with the efficient exploration of a solution space using numerical optimization algorithms. The approach is fully automated, with experiments executed in a boundary layer wind tunnel (BLWT), sensor feedback monitored by a high-performance computer (HPC), and optimization techniques used to bring about physical changes in the BLWT. Anticipated outcomes include: (1) the combination of high-fidelity experimental testing and numerically-driven optimization for wind engineering, (2) the advancement of optimization in a practical engineering setting, and (3) the discovery of new design and detailing features to achieve cost-effective structures.

Initial studies focus on a low-rise structure with parapet wall of variable height, adjusted at the model-scale using servo-motors. Parapets are common on industrial and commercial buildings and have a non-monotonic influence on a structure’s wind load. The model surface is instrumented with pressure taps to measure the envelope pressure. Design objectives include the mitigation of extreme roof loading and the creation of an efficient structural system. Implications of this proof-of-concept are significant for more complex structures where the optimal solution cannot be reasonably determined with traditional experimental or computational methods.

This project is funded by NSF under Grant No. 1636039 and uses the BLWT and HPC resources of the University of Florida NHERI Site under NSF Grant No. 1520843. This project is led by PI Asst. Prof. Brian Phillips of the University of Maryland and co-PI Prof. Forrest Masters of the University of Florida. For more information on the PI’s research, please visit


University of Florida wind engineering class visits with researchers in the BLWT

Roof Suction
blue = high suction; red = low suction

BLWT model with no parapet wall, 45° approach wind angle, and a qualitative distribution of extreme roof suction

Roof Suction
blue = high suction; red = low suction

BLWT model with a 1 inch parapet wall, 45° approach wind angle, and a qualitative distribution of extreme roof suction


Recently Awarded or in Experimental Design

  • Benchmark Study of Tornado Wind Loading on Low-Rise Buildings with Consideration of Internal Pressure. Award Number:TBD; Principal Investigator:Delong Zuo; Organization:Texas Tech University;NSF Organization:CMMI Start Date:TBD.
  • Collaborative Research: Performance-Based Framework for Wind-Excited Multi-Story Buildings. Award Number:1462084; Principal Investigator:Seymour Spence; Co-Principal Investigator:; Organization:University of Michigan Ann Arbor;NSF Organization:CMMI Start Date:06/01/2015.
  • Collaborative Research: Performance-Based Framework for Wind-Excited Multi-Story Buildings. Award Number:1462076; Principal Investigator:Ahsan Kareem; Co-Principal Investigator:; Organization:University of Notre Dame;NSF Organization:CMMI Start Date:06/01/2015.
  • EF Demonstration Project: Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure: Experimental Facility with Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel, Wind Load and Dynamic Flow Simulators, and Pressure Loading Actuators. Award Number:1520843; Principal Investigator:Forrest Masters; Co-Principal Investigator:David Prevatt, H. Hamilton III, Jennifer Rice, Kurtis Gurley; Organization:University of Florida;NSF Organization:CMMI Start Date:01/01/2016.


Completed or Ongoing Experiments

  • Cyber-Physical Systems Approach to the Optimal Design of Structures for Wind Hazards. Award Number:1636039; Principal Investigator:Brian Phillips; Co-Principal Investigator:Forrest Masters; Organization:University of Maryland College Park;NSF Organization:CMMI Start Date:08/01/2016.
  • NRI: Large: Collaborative Research: Fast and Accurate Infrastructure Modeling and Inspection with Low-Flying Robots. Award Number:1328930; Principal Investigator:Sanjiv Singh; Co-Principal Investigator:Daniel Huber, Sebastian Scherer, Burcu Akinci; Organization:Carnegie-Mellon University;NSF Organization:IIS Start Date:09/15/2013.
  • Collaborative Research: Semi-Active Controlled Cladding Panels for Multi-Hazard Resilient Buildings. Award Number:1463497; Principal Investigator:James Ricles; Co-Principal Investigator:Spencer Quiel; Organization:Lehigh University;NSF Organization:CMMI Start Date:06/01/2015;
  • CAREER: Behavior of Hurricane Wind and Wind-Driven Rain in the Coastal Suburban Roughness Sublayer. Award Number:1055744; Principal Investigator:Forrest Masters; Organization:University of Florida;NSF Organization:CMMI Start Date:03/01/2011
  • Performance-based Multi-Hazard Engineering for Seismic and Wind Loads. Award Number:1265511; Principal Investigator:Mircea Grigoriu; Organization:Cornell University;NSF Organization:CMMI Start Date:06/01/2013.
  • MRI: Development of a Versatile, Self-Configuring Turbulent Flow Condition System for a Shared-Use Hybrid Low-Speed Wind Tunnel. Award Number:1428954; Principal Investigator:Forrest Masters; Co-Principal Investigator:Corene Matyas, Jennifer Rice, Kurtis Gurley, Kamran Mohseni; Organization:University of Florida;NSF Organization:CMMI Start Date:09/01/2014.