Recently, SIMULIA introduced the 2020 SIMULIA Champions, the inaugural team of brand ambassadors whose expertise and passion position them to advance the future of simulation technology. In this series of blogs, we will be introducing some of our individual SIMULIA Champions, finding out more about their history – and future – with the technology.
Lars Pilgaard Mikkelsen is an Associate Professor in the Department of Wind Energy at the Technical University of Denmark. His work includes both teaching and research, and that research includes wind turbine modeling using Abaqus.
“I focus on composite materials for wind turbine blades, with an emphasis on linking experimental measurements with numerical models,” he explains.
Over the last decade, Mikkelsen has been involved in projects with a focus on understanding mechanisms controlling the lifetime of wind turbine blade materials. He contributed to a project that made the Technical University of Denmark stand out as a leader in clean energy technology. Based on micro-scale x-ray computer tomography, the researchers were able to transfer an enormous amount of 3D scan data into numerical models, which led to a better understanding of the lifetime of the composite materials used in wind turbine blades. This will help the clean energy industry to make the blade longer and lighter for cheaper wind turbines and, in turn, cheaper electricity competitive with conventional energy sources.
Another achievement that Mikkelsen takes great pride in is his involvement in two massive open online courses (MOOC) which have attracted thousands of students. The newest of those courses has a focus on X-ray tomography, closing the gap between x-ray scans and numerical modeling, helping students of many different backgrounds to achieve knowledge in this advanced and highly specialized field. Mikkelsen acknowledges the role of new online teaching technology in making such knowledge more widely accessible.
Education has been a large part of Mikkelsen’s whole professional life; he points out that even though he has spent his entire career in academia, it has often been in close collaboration with many different industry partners. His academic career includes positions at prestigious universities such as Cambridge University and Harvard, as well as Master’s, doctoral and postdoctoral work at the Technical University of Denmark in the 90s. This scholarly work involved building his own finite element code focusing on the buckling and collapse of thin walled shells. In 2005, he began using Abaqus – his first time using commercial finite element codes. Since then, he has been looking back. He is especially thrilled over the possibility of combining own-made codes using Abaqus user-subroutine features with the advanced build in functions as well as the newer python scripting possibilities in Abaqus.
Mikkelsen began studying math and physics during high school and was eventually drawn toward engineering and its blend of math and mechanics. The challenges of solving new engineering problems, he says, go hand in hand with the success of finding solutions.
“Closing the gap between experimental and numerical work is such a challenge, and I have found great satisfaction when I have been able to close some of those gaps,” he says. “To do experimental work, to measure something and then afterwards be able to model it – that’s really satisfactory because you can then understand the mechanism behind what you see.”
He is driven by technical challenges and also by what he calls “my small contribution to saving the world” through clean energy development. Outside of work, he enjoys spending time with his wife and two grown daughters, as well as fishing and mountain biking. He takes a positive, optimistic view towards work and life – if someone says something is not possible, he enjoys proving that it is. Working with many great scientists over the years has inspired him and he is grateful to the mentors that have helped him along his path.
SIMULIA is pleased to welcome Lars Pilgaard Mikkelsen into the 2020 SIMULIA Champions program and excited to continue working with him in the future. Stay tuned to the blog to learn more about our other 2020 SIMULIA Champions.
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