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PhD Defense - Peter Sempolinski

Start: 4/30/2015 at 12:00PM
End: 4/30/2015 at 5:00PM
Location: 258 Fitzpatrick Hall
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Peter Sempolinski

April 30, 2015        12:00 pm        258 Fitzpatrick Hall


Dr. Douglas Thain

Committee Members:

Dr. Gregory Madey        Dr. Jaroslaw Nabrzyski        Dr. Aaron Striegel

Faculty/Students are welcome to attend the presentation portion of the defense.

Light refreshments will be served




One of the most powerful concepts for software development is the notion of software-mediated collaborative design. In this paradigm, computer programmers and other software designers use software tools to manage the interactions amongst themselves. This includes the recording software code history, automated testing and discussion of improvements. In recent years, however, computing applications have expanded to include many different areas of expertise. This includes other areas of design and collaboration.

This work proposes that the techniques of software collaboration can be expanded to other domains, considering, in particular, the area of structural design. Extrapolating the collaborative techniques of software design into structural design requires de- vising analogous software tools for the new design setting. These analogous software tools include facilities for modifying structural designs, evaluating designs through simulation, and discussing designs and simulation results.

To explore this use of collaborative ideas, a prototype system is created for user collaboration and simulation of structures under wind load. This Virtual Wind Tunnel (VWT) is adaptable according to the particular simulation application and the current availability of computing resources. The construction and use of the VWT provides a platform for exploring how to expand software collaboration ideas into the structural design domain. The VWT is modular system of interacting components which facilitate interaction between front-end interfaces for engineers, the back-end computing engines and the domain software of structural analysis. Further, the VWT allows users to upload, discuss and collaborate upon proposed designs, incorporates powerful CFD simulators and directs such simulations to high-throughput back-end systems. The VWT incorporates many different technologies and knowledge domains from web technology, CFD analysis, data visualization, structural design, high-throughput computing systems and more.

The principal technical challenges for building the VWT involved developing key software components to manage the interactions between various software and intellectual domains. In particular, a compiler for simulations was developed to allows users to distill high-level structural input to low-level simulation directives. To make the VWT amenable to a variety of computing engines, a system of portable soft- ware suitcases was developed to distribute simulation software and other dependency files various back-end computing engines. To demonstrate the VWT, it has been deployed for multiple of educational and research projects related to CFD analysis and/or crowdsourcing. These deployments involved dozens of users, including ex- perts, students and members of the general public, running thousands of CFD tasks to completion.