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PhD Position in Experimental and Computational Fluid-Structure Interactions

Frederick Gosselin's picture

Funded PhD thesis in Mechanical Engineering

Computational and experimental investigation on the dynamic stability of a flat plate deforming with large amplitude under fluid flow

A fully funded thesis project is proposed at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, Canada to start in 2017.

In most engineering applications, structures are designed to be stiff so that the loads they carry do not deform them significantly. In nature, structures are usually compliant; that is especially true for terrestrial and aquatic plants. Plants rely on their flexibility to change form and reduce their drag when subjected to fluid flow. Flexibility allows plants to reduce their drag through reconfiguration, however it is well known in the Fluid-Structure Interactions community that flexibility can also lead to a loss of stability and thus increased dynamical loads. Fluttering flags are a good example.

In the proposed project, we will consider the limitation to reconfiguration brought by a dynamic loss of stability in constant uniform flow. To understand the trade-off that flexibility brings to real plants in terms of drag reduction and loss of stability, we will study an idealised two-dimensional system: a beam clamped at its centre and subjected to a normal flow. We will study how the beam bends in the flow statically when its rigidity is decreased until a critical value is reached and the beam starts fluttering. The impact of the project will come from a better understanding of the natural adaptation of plants to wind stresses, but also in developing a new expertise in aeroelasticity of soft structures such as compliant drones.

The project is experimental and numerical in nature. The role of the student will be to perform wind tunnel measure campaigns as well as work on the development of a numerical procedure coupling an aerodynamics code to a finite element solution of the dynamical large deformation Euler-Bernoulli beam equation. The candidate sought has a masters in Mechanical/Aerospace Engineering and processes a strong background in fluid mechanics, vibrations, and numerical methods. Preferably, (s)he has some experience with computational fluid dynamics, finite element analysis and wind tunnel tests. A PhD thesis lasts approximately four years. The candidate will spend her/his time on the main campus at École Polytechnique de Montréal. The candidate should be ready to start the project by January or May 2017. The financial aid is 20 000$CAD per year and is not taxable. PhD candidates must pay tuition (<3000$/year).


To apply, send your cover letter, CV, transcript, and a recent publication (can be a project report) to:

Frédérick Gosselin, Associate Professor

Department of Mechanical Engineering

École Polytechnique de Montréal

frederick (dot) gosselin (at) polymtl (dot) ca



A full description of the project is available in the attached pdf.

More information about our research can be found at


PDF icon PhDOffer-Reconfiguration-Polytechnique.pdf413.06 KB
Image icon reconf.jpg44.89 KB
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