Ph.D. Student Spotlight: Wensi Wu

Wensi Wu
  • Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

wensi sitting downWhat is your area of research?
Most of my research interests lie in using computational tools to study complex physical systems. Scientific discoveries are impeded in many science and engineering disciplines because of limitations in experimental data. These limitations are in part due to the technical challenges in carrying out relevant experiments, but in some cases such as biological research, there are also ethical concerns. Therefore, a computational approach is a great way to bypass these constraints and push scientific progress. Specifically, in my Ph.D. project, I applied fluid-structure interaction simulations to investigate an important marine engineering phenomenon, hydrodynamic slamming. This study provides important insights in the fluid pressure evolution underneath a flexible plate as it slams onto the water free surface. With the knowledge in the fluid pressure progression, we were able to derive a mathematical formula that characterizes the slamming impact force. This finding can be used to help improve ship hull design such that ship incidents can be prevented.  

What inspired you to choose this field of study?
Growing up, I have always loved math and physics. However, what truly excites me is to see the applications of math and physics in real life. Engineering is a great place where I learn how to apply integrals, derivatives, and principles of physics to analyze the forces on the columns of a building, the aerodynamics of wind turbines, a reactive flow in an augmentor, etc. These quantitative analyses enable us to identify ways to improve the efficiency and design of the system in question, and overall lead to better quality of life. 

Wensi with friendsWhat are your hobbies or interests outside of your research?
Outside of my research, I’m actively involved in the Cornell taekwondo team. Before the pandemic, we would travel to MIT, Princeton, Brown, and University of Vermont for competitions. It’s nice to be part of a close-knit and supportive community.

Do you have any advice for students?
Take the time to explore, whether it be places, your passion, or career aspirations. More importantly, have fun! 

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