What is wind engineering? - Tribute to the "father of wind engineering"

The Jack E. Cermak Medal.
Image courtesy of ASCE.
"Wind Engineering is best defined as the rational treatment of the interactions between wind in the atmospheric boundary layer and man and his works on the surface of earth."

That is at least how Prof. Jack E. Cermak, considered the "father of wind engineering," defined it. But at the same time it is how wind engineering has come to be known to its practitioners. It is with sadness though that Prof. Cermak has passed on earlier this week.

This is another great loss in the wind engineering community indeed, after Prof. Alan G. Davenport's passing back in 2008. It is unfortunate that I did not even meet or at least see them in person or listen to their lectures or presentations directly. Prof. Cermak is co-founder of one of the top wind engineering consulting groups in the world, CPP (Cermak-Peterka-Petersen).

In honor of these two wind engineering pioneers, the International Association of Wind Engineering (IAWE) awards the Davenport Medal and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) awards the Jack E. Cermak Medal to distinguished researchers in the field.

For further reading, Wikipedia also has a good description of wind engineering. Generally, wind engineering is divided into two branches, structural wind engineering and environmental wind engineering. To me, wind engineering is the combination of these three major fields of study: "engineering meteorology" (which basically takes meteorology to become useful in engineering), bluff-body aerodynamics (which is generally quite different from the aerodynamics that vehicle designers have to deal with), and engineering design (i.e. codes, and so on). In the structural wind engineering field, structural dynamics and fluid-structure interaction are also more specialized fields. Perhaps the two most popular tools in wind engineering that also define the practice are full-scale response and climate measurements, boundary layer wind tunnel testing, and computational fluid dynamics or CFD.

Read more on the sad announcement from current IAWE President, Prof. Yukio Tamura. I also received an e-mail about this news containing this message from American Association for Wind Engineering (AAWE) president, Partha Sarkar:
Dear IAWE Members,  
I share the sad news that our colleague, long-time friend, and one of the pioneers of wind engineering, Dr. Jack E. Cermak, passed away on August 21, 2012 at Fort Collins, Colorado. He would have been 90 in a couple of weeks. Many of you who interacted with him professionally or personally know that he was an educator (Professor Emeritus at Colorado State University or CSU), engineer, visionary, mentor and a friend. He was fondly known as the father of wind engineering because of his early contributions to the academic field that later emerged as wind engineering. He had a very distinguished career at CSU where he was named the University Distinguished Professor in 1986. He was the President Emeritus of Cermak, Peterka, Petersen or CPP, Inc., a wind engineering consulting company that he co-founded in 1984. He served as the first president of the Wind Engineering Research Council (WERC) for 10 years (1976-1985) before it was renamed as AAWE. ASCE has established the Jack Cermak Medal to be awarded annually for outstanding contributions in wind engineering. He was a member of the National Academy of Engineering since 1973. Jack will be remembered for his pioneering work in fluid mechanics and wind engineering over his long illustrious career of more than 50 years. I have known Jack Cermak for many years and interacted with him quite a few times during my several visits to Fort Collins, the last one being in Summer 2008 on my way to attend the first AAWE Workshop. He was a true gentleman on top of being an outstanding scholar. Jack will be missed by all of us. Details of his memorial service are not known yet; I will pass on any information when available.  
Partha Sarkar
AAWE President

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