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Phd Student Zhao Chen Awarded Thornton Tomasetti Student Innovation Fellowship

Zhao Chen, a PhD student in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, was awarded a 2020 Thornton Tomasetti Student Innovation Fellowship. The fellowship is conferred by the Thornton Tomasetti Foundation, who selected Chen for his “exceptional submittal for innovative research to investigate ‘Efficient Seismic Meta-modeling of Highly Nonlinear Structures with Scarce Data”. This distinguished national fellowship aims to “help students such as Zhao develop projects that further innovation in structural engineering and applied mechanics, especially in areas which facilitate the integration of engineering and architecture.”

“It’s my great honor to win this distinguished fellowship,” said Zhao Chen. “This fellowship inspires me to keep endeavoring in my work and working with others to address modern challenges in structural engineering.”

Chen’s research focuses on novel machine learning methodologies for analyzing complex dynamic systems and assessing integrity of built infrastructure. Chen and his PhD adviser, Assistant Professor Hao Sun, are developing a novel framework called Physics-informed Deep Learning for Sparse Model/Equation Discovery, integrating sensing data, artificial intelligence and domain knowledge to help better uncover, predict and control behaviors of complex physics-systems. Chen and Sun plan to apply this methodology to problems of structural engineering. His fellowship proposal involved developing state-of-the-art deep neural networks to learn about the behaviors of non-linear structures under earthquake conditions.

The Thorton Tomasetti Foundation is a non-profit organization which funds “fellowships, scholarships and internships for undergraduate students, and those planning to pursue graduate studies in building engineering, design or technology.” Zhao Chen received his BS and MS degrees in Civil Engineering from Southeastern University in China. He joined Northeastern University Assistant Professor Hao Sun’s Infrastructure Sensing and Data Science (ISDS) Lab in 2018 as a PhD student. He was a finalist in the ASCE Engineering Mechanics Institute 2019 Dynamics Student Competition.

Related Faculty: Hao Sun

Related Departments:Civil & Environmental Engineering