Computational Science and Engineering

Scientific computing is often called the “third pillar of science”, standing right next to theoretical analysis and experiments for scientific discovery.

Computation becomes crucially important when:

  • the problem at hand cannot be solved by traditional experimental or theoretical means, such as attempting to predict climate change;
  • experimentation may be dangerous, e.g., characterization of toxic materials;
  • the problem would be too expensive or time-consuming to try to solve by other avenues, e.g. determination of the structure of proteins.

Computational science is a multi-disciplinary activity involving experts in the application and experts in the development and implementation of computational methods.

In ME at BU a large fraction of the research projects have an associated computational aspect. Computational fluid dynamic simulations, finite element simulations, and particle interaction simulations are applied regularly to study fluid-thermal and mechanical systems at all scales. In addition, new computational techniques are being developed to push the state-of-the art in simulation capacity.

Research Topics

Computational Method Development

  • Fluid Mechanics: In this arena new modeling methods are being developed to better predict complex fluid flows. Also models applicable to micro and nano scale fluidics are being developed. RyanYakhot
  • Mechanics and Materials: New finite element formulations are being developed to improve coupled fluid/structure simulations. Methods for coupling atomistic and continuum simulations to allow for the simulation of nanostructures are also under investigation. Barbone, Park, Zhang K.

Application of Computational Methods

  • Fluid Mechanics, Thermodynamics, and Acoustics: In this area researchers are applying CFD methods to study flow noise in engines and heating due to high frequency resonance, nonlinear propagation simulations to analyze the effect of shock waves, heating due to high frequency resonance, inviscid flow simulations to study vibration and sound associated with high speed trains, and electrochemical processes important for energy generation and storage mechanisms. Gopalan, Grace, Howe, Nagem, Ryan
  • Robotics and Controls: In this field researchers are developing new control algorithms for networks of robots and gene networks as well as nonlinear control and for complex mechanical systems. Andersson, Baillieul, Belta, Wang
  • Mechanics and Materials: Finite element methods are being used by researchers at BU to guide experimental investigations into the mechanical properties of bones and tissues. They are also used regularly to better understand the electronic, optical and magnetic properties as well as the acousto-vibro responses of complex materials such as composites. Barbone, Cole, Gevelber, McDaniel, Morgan, Park,  Zhang K.


Many of the computational efforts in ME utilize Boston University Supercomputing and Visualization Center