Taking the hurricane seas

In his first day at the Technical University of Athens Technical University Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, Temstoxlis Sapsis had a very satisfying understanding.

“I learned that ships and other marine structures operate only at two different interfaces: air and water,” Sappis said. “This asset alone poses many challenges in terms of mathematics and computational modeling. And of course, these media outlets are never stable – they are random and often surprisingly unpredictable.

In other words, Sapsis did not have to choose between his two great aspirations: huge, ocean-going ships and structures on the one hand, and mathematics on the other. Today, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT, Sapsis tries to predict behavior – such as ocean waves or instability in gas turbines – between unpredictable and occasional variables. Its purpose is to create designs for strong and reliable structures, even under extensive conditions. For example, he may study ship loads during a hurricane, or helicopters in the event of a difficult flow around the rotor blade.

“These events are real – they often lead to serious accidents and injuries,” says Sapsis. “My goal is to develop algorithms that can predict them and simulate them quickly. If we achieve this goal, we will begin to talk about optimizing and designing these systems, taking into account these very rare, but perhaps tragic events.

Growing up in Athens, where the great maritime and mathematical traditions have been around since ancient times, Sappie’s house was “full of machinery, spare engines, and engineering designs.”

His father traveled extensively to oversee major ship repairs, and Sapsis often accompanied him.

I think the size of these ships, and especially the engines, made me feel very special as a child. You had to climb five or six flight steps to see the whole thing. ”

There were also mathematics and engineering books in Sapsis’ house – “a lot,” he said. His father insisted that he study mathematics, and at the same time, young Sapsis was conducting physics experiments on the ground.

“This transition between dynamic systems — back and forth — in general mathematics — and naval architecture” was often on his mind, Sapsis.

In college, Sapsis completed his math class. He says he had previously had the opportunity to meet with a professor of mathematics at the Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering School, where he led Sapsis for three years. In his spare time, Sapsis studied at the University’s School of Optical Mathematics.

The undergraduate degree was based on the hypothesis of dynamic systems exposed to random stimuli necessary for the understanding of the movement of large ships and cargoes. One of Sapis’ most memorable discoveries was his work on that Thesis.

“I have a problem with my book counselor,” says Sapsis. “This is an old problem, and he has warned me that I may not be able to find anything new, as many have tried unsuccessfully over the decades.

Over the next six months, Sapsis “repeated” all the methods used in academic literature, trying to understand why various approaches had failed. He began to pave the way for a new set of equals to achieve his goal, but there were technical obstacles.

“Without much hope, I knew it was an old problem, but with a lot of curiosity, I started working on different levels,” says Sapsis. “After a few weeks of work, I realized that the steps were complete, and I had a new set of equations!”

“It was one of my most exciting times,” says my counselor. “Yes, this is new and important!” When I heard him say.

Since that early success, the engineering and architectural problems associated with the construction of the vast and unpredictable oceans have solved many research problems for Sapsi.

“Naval architecture is one of the oldest professions, many open problems remain and many new ones come,” he says. “Theoretical tools should not be more complex than the problem itself. However, in this case, there are basically some challenging physical problems that require the development of new mathematical and computational methods. I always try to start with the basics and build the right theoretical and computational tools to get closer to the model of some complex events.

A.D. Joined the MIT faculty in 2013 and Sapsis, who was hired in 2019, says he “loves the power and speed of the institute, which you never felt was enough – but in a healthy way. ”

I am always humbled by the wonderful discoveries of my colleagues and our students and the post-documentaries. It is a place of pure love and talent mixed with good feelings to solve the world’s problems.

These days, Sapsis says that his students are the ones who find the joy of finding solutions to problems in the field.

My students and postgraduates are happy to be the first to know when a new idea is being developed. But I have to admit that I have to solve some problems for myself.

In fact, Sapsis “relaxes thinking about a good problem” – high risk and low expectations. I’m thinking of a strategy to go about it, but know that it probably won’t work. This is something I will never stop doing. ”


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