Computational Mechanics and Scientific Computing

Computational mechanics encompasses the development and use of computational methods for studying problems governed by the laws of mechanics. Modern computational mechanics is embodied in the broad field of computational science and engineering. This discipline plays a fundamental role in a vast number of many important problems in science and engineering such as aircraft design, drug delivery, crashworthiness, materials design, tissue engineering, biomedical imaging, prediction of natural events (e.g., climate modeling), energy exploration and exploitation, and others. Duke University has unique facilities and world-renowned faculty in this area. Students of computational mechanics at Duke receive premier training in the core disciplines of applied mathematics, numerical methods, computer science, and mechanics.

Computational mechanics and scientific computing faculty in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science focuses on the following areas:

  • Inverse problems and optimization
  • Fracture and fragmentation
  • Fluid-structure interaction
  • Flow through porous media
  • Computational nonlinear poro-elasticity
  • Computation of highly nonlinear mechanical systems
  • Computational aeroelasticity
  • Uncertainty quantification

Current projects include:

  • Development of PDE-constrained optimization techniques for materials characterization in breast tumors
  • Development of numerical methods for large-scale stochastic optimization problems
  • Computational inverse problem approaches for materials characterization in the cardiovascular system
  • Development of accurate and robust algorithms for blast loading of structures and crash worthiness analysis
  • Computational methods for simulating trauma in biologic materials
  • Algorithms for fluid/structure interaction, with specific application to high-performance aircraft and ship design
  • Modeling of coupled electrochemical and solid deformation processes related to corrosion stress fracture
  • Simulating hydraulically-driven fracture networks
  • Computational simulation of advanced reservoir engineering concepts
  • Computational simulation of subsurface poro-elastic systems
  • Computational models for simulating the evolution of the Earth's crust, and large deformations in subsurface basins

Opportunities for Graduate Study

The department offers an M.S./Ph.D. study track in mechanical engineering with a core in computational mechanics.


Associate Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Computational mechanics, finite element methods, computational inverse problems and their applications in engineering and biomedicine, scientific computing, computational acoustics and acoustics-structure interaction, coupled chemo-mechanics (e.g. electrochemistry-mechanics).
Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Modeling quasi-static and dynamic fracture of structural components, the evolution of interfaces with nonlinear constitutive laws, and developing models for stimulus-responsive hydrogels
William Holland Hall Professor of Mechanical Engineering in the Edmund T. Pratt, Jr. School of Engineering
Broad field of aeroelasticity, acoustics, nonlinear dynamics, structural dynamics, and unsteady aerodynamics.
Julian Francis Abele Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science in the Edmund T. Pratt, Jr. School of Engineering
Dr. Hall specializes in unsteady aerodynamics, structural dynamics, and aeroelasticity of turbomachinery and aerospace vehicles. Novel approaches to modeling complex physical phenomena using computational fluid dynamics. Optimization and sensitivity analysis. Fluid dynamics of animal propulsion.
Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science
Hydroelastic modeling of deformable structures, transport in thermal and chemical systems, experimental and computational fluid dynamics, nonlinear and complex systems, heat and mass transport in biological systems, stability of fluid motions, machine learning, data mining, econophysics, reduced...
Edmund T. Pratt Jr. School Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science
Associate Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Finite element methods, computational fluid and solid mechanics, multiphase porous media flows, computational methods for fluid and solid materials under extreme load conditions, turbulent flow computations, instability phenomena.