Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical Engineering Seminar


Robust Shape and Topology Optimization


Prof. Wei Chen


Northwestern University


Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 3:00:00 PM


MRDC Building, Room 4211


Yan Wang


Topology optimization plays an increasingly important role in designing micro/nano-engineered systems since it identifies optimal material distributions of structures beyond designer’s intuition. However, most of the current work is deterministic without consideration of uncertainties such as the variations in loading, material properties, or geometry. The difficulties of topology optimization under uncertainties are largely attributed to the infinite-dimensional property of topology optimization, which poses great challenges in uncertainty representation, propagation, and design sensitivity analysis. Geometric uncertainty, in particular, is embedded in the boundary which is dynamic and changes continuously in the optimization process. In this talk, we will present a design methodology with simultaneous robust shape and topology optimization (RSTO) that uses a novel level-set based dynamic topological design framework to account for various forms of uncertainties. We will first present a general framework of RSTO which integrates the existing topology optimization techniques and the latest research developments in design under uncertainty. We will then demonstrate the unique benefits of applying level set methods for handling geometric uncertainty which is modeled by combining the level set function with a random normal boundary velocity field characterized with a reduced set of random variables. Applications of our approach to structure, compliant mechanism, and metamaterials designs will be presented.


Dr. Wei Chen is the Wilson-Cook Chair Professor in Engineering Design at Northwestern University. Affiliated with the Segal Design Institute as a Faculty Fellow, she is a Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, with courtesy appointment in the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management. Directing the Integrated DEsign Automation Laboratory (IDEAL- http://ideal.mech.northwestern.edu/), her current research involves issues such as simulation-based design under uncertainty, model validation, stochastic multiscale analysis and design, robust shape and topology optimization, multidisciplinary optimization, consumer choice modeling and enterprise-driven decision-based design. She is the co-founder and Director of the interdisciplinary doctoral cluster in Predictive Science and Engineering Design (PSED) at Northwestern, a program aiming for integrating scientific, physics-based modeling and simulation into design of innovative engineered systems. Dr. Chen received her Ph.D. from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1995. She is an elected member of the ASME Design Engineering Division (DED) Executive Committee and currently serving as the Vice Chair. She is also an elected Advisory Board member of the Design Society, an international design research community. She is an Associate Editor of the ASME Journal of Mechanical Design and serves as the review editor of Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization.