Civil Engineering Graduate's PhD Dissertation among Top 25 in the World

Velazquez Award
Velazquez Award
ProQuest sent this certificate to Antonio Velazquez for his PhD dissertation, one of the 25 most-accessed in the world.

Antonio Velazquez studies wind energy and wind turbines.  And the dissertation that earned him his PhD in Civil Engineering from Michigan Tech in 2014 has just been named one of the 25 most-accessed dissertations by ProQuest, an international database of scholarly research.

The title of the dissertation is “Model updating and structural health monitoring of horizontal axis wind turbines via advanced spinning finite elements and stochastic subspace identification methods.”

In simpler terms, Velazquez and his faculty advisor in civil engineering, Assistant Professor R. Andrew Swartz, use mathematical models of wireless sensor data to monitor the structural integrity and efficiency of wind turbines. 

Mathematical Models

“One of the strengths of this work is the formulation of a clear, formal, practical, integral and reproducible mathematical/numerical framework that anyone can follow from start to finish, specially designed for easy programming in microcomputers, wireless-sensing and mobile devices," Velazquez explains.  “This work certainly serves as a tool for new upcoming emerging technologies such as cloud-assisted mobile sensing applications, distributed mobile sensing and computing, or participatory sensing, crowd-sensing, and human centric sensing."

Velazquez and Swartz won the 2015 Bhakta Rath Research Award for their wind turbine work.

Antonio Velazquez
Antonio Velazquez

“I feel surprised and astonished for the reaction of the structural engineering/engineering mechanics community about my dissertation work,” says Velazquez, who is now an assistant professor in the Russ College of Engineering and Technology at Ohio University.  “Total gratitude goes to my advisor, Dr. Swartz. Without his help, motivation, guidance, patience and tolerance, this could not have been achieved at this international level, competing among 2-million theses and dissertations around the globe.”

Ohio University Faculty

Swartz, an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, says that Antonio always was very intellectually ambitious. “He is a highly gifted mathematician and is not afraid at all of tackling difficult and novel problems,” Swartz says. “It's not too surprising to me to see that his dissertation is generating interest.  He was never content to fiddle around the edges of a problem; he always went straight for the heart of the problem, no matter the complexity.”

Velazquez’s graduate work at Michigan Tech was funded by CONACYT, Mexico’s National Center of Science and Technology. CONACYT is the Mexican equivalent of the US National Science Foundation, funding graduate students, research centers and university research in 50 countries around the world.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, the University offers more than 125 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.