Thomas FURTMÜLLER

Contributions to analytical, experimental and computational problems in mechanics with emphasis on structural dynamics (in Englisch)

With this habilitation thesis, the author applies for a Venia Docendi in Mechanics. Since this discipline has its theoretical foundation in Isaac Newton’s Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica published in 1687, one might ask: ”Is there really an urge to pursue a line of research that has been studied for more than 300 years ?”
Unsurprinsingly, the author’s response to this rhetorical question is ”Yes”. Although Newton’s laws and theories derived therefrom in the last centuries have proven to be inappropriate in some subfields of physics, a predominant number of physical phenomena can be described sufficiently accurate by them. At the same time, with technical progress constantly increasing in the Industrial Age, challenges (not only, but also related to Mechanics) arising from this have increased equally. It is the author’s strong belief that as long as mankind lives within an environment dominated by technology, these challenges will continue to appear. Therefore, the urge for ”engineering solutions” to ”engineering problems”, in this case related to mechanics, will not cease to exist. 

Historically, theory and experiment are the two foundations of natural sciences. With the advent of computer power in the 20th century, simulation has emerged from theory, representing a third foundation in the present day. Based on these approaches, the title of this thesis includes
”analytical, experimental and computational”, since all three of them have their legitimate fields of application. However, in the opinion of the author they should not be understood as separate sub-disciplines. In many cases, an appropriate combination of analytical, experimental and computational methods is the preferred approach. For instance, a new theory or model
derived analytically is the basis for a numerical implementation oftentimes. Without proper application of the former, the latter therefore is irrelevant. On the other hand, both analytical and computational investigations are useless without experimental validation. Again, a proper application of the latter is required for this validation to be correct. 

This thesis consists of seven peer-reviewed and published papers and one paper submitted for publication where all three of the approaches mentioned are employed. The topics addressed cover a relatively wide range, demonstrating the broad field of active research in Mechanics,
focusing mainly on applications in structural dynamics.

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