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Report of the Chair, The Applied Mechanics Division, 2010

Zhigang Suo's picture

This report will appear in the 2010 Newsletter of the Applied Mechanics Division, of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Mary Boyce called one day, in late 2004, asking if I would serve on the Executive Committee of the Applied Mechanics Division (AMD). I said yes. She told me that she would seek the consensus from other members of the Committee, and that meanwhile I should think the matter over. I did not have much to think about, but she did come back to me. On 1 July 2005, I replaced her as a new member of the Committee. Five years flies by, and I am now writing to you as the 2009-2010 Chair of the Division. The AMD is run by its members, volunteers like you and me. You have many ways to participate in shaping the Division and our field. I will highlight some of these ways in this report.

Applied Mechanics Division. Founded in 1927, the AMD aims to foster the intelligent use of mechanics by engineers and to develop this science to serve the needs of engineering. In a letter dated 24 November 1926, S.P. Timoshenko and J.M. Lessells wrote:

“In modern industry there are many problems in which the application of scientific methods of solution becomes necessary. Among the papers presented before the A.S.M.E., there are many which are of a theoretical character and in which mathematical analysis is extensively used. It will be useful to present this kind of paper in the section of “Applied Mechanics” where a better discussion can be arranged among the people interested in theory and its applications.”  (From Paul Naghdi, A brief history of the Applied Mechanics Division of ASME., Journal of Applied Mechanics 46, 723-794 (1979).)

The AMD today is the largest among the Basic Engineering Divisions in the ASME. These Divisions, along with their memberships, are

  • Applied Mechanics (4,931)
  • Bioengineering (1,910)
  • Fluids Engineering (2,910)
  • Heat Transfer (3,378)
  • Materials (1,799)
  • Tribology (469).

In addition, the AMD has been a significant part of the community of mechanics in the United States. See organizations represented on the US National Committee of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics.

Executive Committee. The Division is run by the Executive Committee of five members. Each member serves a term of five years, beginning as Secretary in the first year, then Program Vice-Chair, Program Chair, Vice Chair and Chair. When I joined the Executive Committee, in 2005, the other four members were Wing Kam Liu, Thomas N. Farris, Ravi-Chandar, and Dan Inman. In years that followed, they were replaced, respectively, by Tayfun E. Tezduyar, Ares J. Rosakis, Kenneth M. Liechti, and Lawrence A. Bergman. Over the years these remarkable individuals have taught me a lot about how people work together to get decisions made and things done. Here is list of past Chairs of the Division.  The function and the operation of the Executive Committee are described in the By-laws and Rules of Operation.

Technical Committees. Every year sessions in the International Mechanical Engineering Congress & Exposition (IMECE) are organized by volunteers, often through Technical Committees. The principal function of a Technical Committee is to enable researchers to advocate their field of research. Each Technical Committee meets once a year during the IMECE. The time for the meeting is listed in a pamphlet distributed at the registration. The meeting of every Technical Committee is open to all. You become a member of the Technical Committee when you show up at a meeting. You shape the direction of your field of research when you organize sessions. You make your effort sustainable by working with others. It is such a pleasure to watch many energetic young researchers become leaders of the Technical Committees. I strongly urge you to join their efforts. Before you go to an IMECE, it is a good idea to contact the Chair of the Technical Committee to which you wish to belong. Here is a list of the Technical Committees, along with the contact information of the Chairs.  If you believe that a field of research is not represented by the existing Technical Committees, please bring your idea to the attention of the members of the Executive Committee. Technical Committees are established and dissolved by the Executive Committee in response to Division needs and opportunities.

Awards. The AMD administers six Awards:

  • Thomas J.R. Hughes Young Investigator Award
  • Ted Belytschko Applied Mechanics Award
  • Thomas K. Caughey Dynamics Award
  • Danilel C. Drucker Medal
  • Warner T. Koiter Medal
  • Timoshenko Medal

The recipients are selected each year by the Award Committees during the IMECE. The composition of each Award Committee changes every year.  I strongly urge you to nominate candidates for the Awards. Everyone needs some encouragement once in a while, even the stars among us. You wish to express your admiration for an exceptional individual, and the Division wishes to maintain the high standard of the Awards. A pool of strong candidates attests to the vitality of our field. All the six Awards are international. Neither the nominee nor the nominator need be a member of the Division. Details for nomination are online . In addition, many mechanicians have won other ASME awards.

2009 IMECE. The 2009 IMECE was held in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, during 13-19 November 2009. The organization of the AMD-sponsored sessions was led by the 2008-2009 Program Chair, Professor Ares Rosakis, of the California Institute of Technology.

A Student Paper Competition was organized by Professor Ioannis Chasiotis, of the University of Illinois, and Professor Assimina Pelegri, of Rutgers University. A total of 10 students received the Haythornthwaite Student Travel Grants, and a total of 8 students received the AMD Travel Grants. The winners of the competition were

  • First Place, Leslie Lamberson, California Institute of Technology
  • Second Place, Othmane Benafan, University of Central Florida
  • Third Place, Woon-Hong Yeo, University of Washington

The AMD Honors and Awards Banquet was held on Tuesday, 17 November 2009. During the Banquet, newly elected Fellows of ASME were also recognized. In addition, the American Academy of Mechanics presented its awards, and new and outgoing Associate Editors of the Journal of Applied Mechanics were recognized. I was deeply honored to present the 2009 awards to the following outstanding researchers.

Professor Pradeep Sharma, of the University of Houston, received the Thomas J.R. Hughes Young Investigator Award “for outstanding contributions to understanding size-effects of coupled mechanical and physical phenomena in materials”.

Profesor Eugenio Oñate, of the Technical University of Catalonia, received the Ted Belytschko Applied Mechanics Award “for his fundamental contributions to computational methods for solids, fluid-structure interaction and their application to engineering problems and for advancing the field as President of the International Association for Computational Mechanics and the European Community on Computational Methods in Applied Sciences.”

Professor Stephen H. Crandall, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, received the Thomas K. Caughey Dynamics Award “for sustained and original major contributions to the field of dynamics, particularly in the area of random vibration.”

Professor James R. Barber, of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, received the Danilel C. Drucker Medal “for seminal contributions in the areas of frictionally excited thermo-elastic instabilities, contact and indentation problems, brittle fracture, elastodynamics and elasticity, and for distinguished academic contributions as educator, book author and high quality scholarly researcher.”

Professor Stelios Kyriakides, of the University of Texas at Austin, received the Warner T. Koiter Medal “for pioneering contributions to the mechanics of propagating instabilities in solids, structures and materials”

Professor Zdeněk P. Bažant, of Northwestern University, received the Timoshenko Medal “for major lifetime achievements in solid mechanics, encompassing stability of three-dimensional bodies and structures undergoing damage, fracture, size effect laws for quasibrittle failure, probabilistic mechanics, damage nonlocality, micromechanics, microplane constitutive model, and creep and hygrothermal effects in nano-porous multiphase materials.”

The highlight of the Banquet each year is the speech of the Timoshenko Medalist. Taken together, these speeches provide a long perspective of our field, as well as capsules of the lives of extraordinary individuals. Texts of the speeches of past Medalists are online.  You can read in this Newsletter the speech of the 2009 Medalist, Professor Zdeněk P. Bažant.

2010 IMECE. The 2010 IMECE will be held in Vancouver, during 12-18 November 2010. The organization of the AMD-sponsored sessions has been led by the 2009-2010 Program Chair, Professor Kenneth M. Liechti, of the University of Texas at Austin. In addition to the technical sessions, the AMD will hold its annual Awards Banquet, and all are encouraged to attend this festive event. At the Banquet, the following outstanding individuals will receive the 2010 Awards.

  • Professor Harley T. Johnson, of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will receive the Thomas J.R. Hughes Young Investigator Award.
  • Professor Yoichiro Matsumoto, of the University of Tokyo, will receive the Ted Belytschko Applied Mechanics Award.
  • Professor Jerrold E. Marsden, of California Institute of Technology, will receive the Thomas K. Caughey Dynamics Award.
  • Professor Rohan Abeyaratne, of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will receive the Daniel C. Drucker Medal.
  • Professor Nicolas Triantafyllidis, of Ecole Polytechnique and the University of Michigan, will receive the Warner T. Koiter Medal.
  • Professor Wolfgang Knauss, of the California Institute of Technology, will receive the Timoshenko Medal.

Financial Matters. In recent years, the ASME has implemented a new method of accounting. The new method has significantly enhanced the financial strength of the AMD by rewarding the Division for its activities. In 2009-2010, major contributions to the AMD Custodial Account came from the following activities:

  • $ 35,596, revenue share from Journal of Applied Mechanics
  • $ 7,548, revenue share from Applied Mechanics Review
  • $ 18,804, revenue share from the 2009 IMECE
  • $ 6,700, revenue share from the 2009 Summer Meeting at Virginia Tech

These revenue shares resulted from your work. When you review a paper for JAM or AMR, and when you organize a session at the Winter or Summer Meeting, you make a contribution to your own Division. With the newly available funds, perhaps a graduate student will receive a travel grant to attend a conference, or perhaps a young assistant professor will receive a ticket to the Banquet. These young people will be the future leaders of our field. The Executive Committee is exploring ways to use the funds to further the aims of the Division.

iMechanica. Before I went to my first meeting of the Executive Committee, I was thinking what I could do to make a difference. I noticed that my twelve-year old son had remarkably detailed knowledge of new electronic gadgets. Where did he get all this knowledge? It was all online, he told me. He showed me social websites like Slashdot, Dig, and Wikipedia. An idea came to me: how about setting up a web of mechanics and mechanicians? The website would complement existing means of communication, such as journals and conferences. Anyone could post anything, so long as the content interested mechanicians. Mechanicians have been drawn to diverse applications, and have participated in difference conferences. Many of us hardly meet, just because we belong to different technical societies or live in different parts of the world. Perhaps a website would provide a virtual meeting place, or a loose network. At the meeting of the Executive Committee, on 8 November 2005, in Orlando, Florida, I brought up the idea. I got some encouragement, particularly from Ravi-Chandar. He had been thinking to set up a repository for experimentalists to upload high-resolution images and movies of experiments. Setting up a social website turned out to be a research project of its own. What software should be used? Where the site would be hosted? How people could be engaged? Many questions could not be answered without doing experiments. iMechanica was launched in September 2006. The website is hosted on a server at Harvard University, and is powered by open-source software, Drupal. The content and management have been provided entirely by the international community of mechanics. By now iMechanica has over 21,000 registered users, and over 23,000 posts and comments. Many people have contributed time and ideas. I would like to thank in particular Professor Teng Li, of the University of Maryland, for his creativity and sustained effort; Ms. Lesley Lam and Dr. Jayanta Sircar, of Information Technology at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, for their guidance and support.

On this occasion, I also wish to extend my sincere thanks to ASME staff members and others in the AMD for their constant support. Numerous individuals contributed to the success of the AMD during my term as Chair. My thanks go to the other members of the Executive Committee; to Professor Yuri Bazilevs, of the University of California at San Diego, who served as the Recording Secretary for the AMD Executive Committee; to Professor Ioannis Chasiotis, of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, for producing the Newsletter; to Ms. Jacinta McComie at ASME Headquarters, who took care of the many details in the organization of the Technical Committee meetings, banquet, printing of the brochures, production of the medals, etc; to Ms. Stacey Cooper at ASME Headquarters, who worked on the web tool used in conference organization and has been invaluable in interfacing with the Congress; and to the many individuals too numerous to name individually here, who run the Technical Committees, symposia, etc.

As I stepped down as the Chair of the Division, Professor Tayfun Tezduyar, of Rice University, became the Chair. Professor Huajian Gao, of Brown University, replaced me as a new member of the Executive Committee. His term started on 1 July 2010.

Zhigang Suo, 2009-2010 Chair, Applied Mechanics Division

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