The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced today that it has selected the Wall of Wind (WOW) Facility as one of the nation’s major “Experimental Facilities” under the Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure (NHERI) competition

NHERI is the next generation of National Science Foundation (NSF) support for a natural hazards engineering research large facility. WOW is one of seven facilities that NSF has established to test engineering designs and materials against powerful storms and quakes. The successful proposal was submitted by a team from FIU’s Extreme Events Institute (EEI) and International Hurricane Research Center (IHRC), led by — Principal Investigator Arindam Gan Chowdhury (Associate Professor and WOW Director) and Co-Principal Investigators Peter A. Irwin (Professor of Practice) and Ioannis Zisis (Assistant Professor) from FIU’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering under the College of Engineering and Computing. The NSF award is a five-year grant of nearly $4.1 million and is geared to help prevent wind hazard events from becoming community disasters.

“Designation of WOW as one of the Nation’s major Experimental Facility by NSF, will provide College of Engineering and Computing and Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, with opportunities, to provide world class service to our professions, while advancing the state of the knowledge in wind engineering”, said Atorod Azizinamini, Chairman of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. Dr. Chowdhury noted that “The goal of the Wall of Wind facility as a NHERI-EF is to allow NSF-supported researchers to generate new knowledge on wind damage and rain intrusion mechanisms to improve design and construction standards and thereby the disaster resilience of our communities and nation”.

“This award is a recognition from the NSF of the steadfast effort of our faculty and research scientists and will offer new opportunities for innovative research that provides engineering solutions for the benefit of humanity” said Interim Dean, Ranu Jung.

About Wall of Wind Facility:

The FIU Wall of Wind , managed through FIU’s International Hurricane Research Center, is powered by a combined 12-fan 8,400 horsepower system capable of repeatable testing in up to Category 5 wind speeds through its flow management system, which also includes water nozzles to simulate rain penetration. Formally inaugurated in 2012 on the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew’s devastating impacts on Miami-Dade County, the current 12-fan array was made possible by public and private funding over nearly 10 years, and finalized by a $7.5 million Center of Excellence award from the State of Florida in 2008.

About Principal Investigators:

Arindam Gan Chowdhury, Ph.D.

Dr. Arindam Gan Chowdhury is a wind engineering faculty at FIU Civil and Environmental Engineering Department and the Director of the Laboratory for Wind Engineering Research at FIU IHRC. Under Dr. Chowdhury’s direction, the Wall of Wind research team has had a significant impact in mitigating hurricane damage by enhancing building codes, validating innovative mitigation technologies and developing new materials. He has received numerous awards and honors including the NSF’s Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) Award and the President’s Council Worlds Ahead Faculty Award, which is the FIU’s highest recognition for faculty members.

Peter A. Irwin, Ph.D.

Peter A. Irwin, Ph.D., P.Eng., is a renowned wind engineering expert who joined FIU Civil and Environmental Engineering Department and IHRC in early 2012 as Professor of Practice for the WOW. Dr. Irwin has done wind consulting for some of the most ambitious building projects on record, including three structures to have held the honor of “world’s tallest building”: The Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Taipei 101 in Taipei, Taiwan; and Burj Khalifa in Dubai, UAE – currently the world’s tallest building. He has been awarded Gzowski Medal for Civil Engineering, the Coopers Hill Medal for Civil Engineering, and the Jack E. Cermak Medal for Wind Engineering from the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Ioannis Zisis, Ph.D.

Dr. Ioannis Zisis joined the FIU Civil and Environmental Engineering Department in 2012 as Assistant Professor and member of the IHRC Wall of Wind research group. For over 10 years he has been using advanced experimental methods, including wind tunnel and full-scale monitoring techniques, to examine how residential and other structures react to extreme wind events. The outcomes of his research efforts are aiming at the improvement of national and international wind standards and building codes of practice. Dr. Zisis has received funding from several agencies including the Florida Sea Grant College Program, the Florida Department of Transportation, and the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

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