The 21st Century Center of Excellence (COE) Program entitled “Wind Effects on Buildings and Urban Environment” proposed by Tokyo Polytechnic University (TPU) came to an end on March 31, 2008. I believe the TPU COE has been very successful because of keen and tireless efforts made by COE members and cooperative people who had participated in the TPU COE Program. I would like to extend my sincere thanks to all of them as well as to many friends in our wind engineering community for their kind collaboration with us for almost five years from July 2003 to March 2008.
We at the TPU Wind Engineering Research Center (WERC), in collaboration with the NatHaz Modeling Laboratory at the University of Notre Dame (UND), submitted the "GLOBAL COE (GCOE)" Program entitled “New Frontier of Education and Research in Wind Engineering” to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), Japan, in February 2008. The GCOE Program is the next level of the COE Program intended to provide funding support for establishing education and research centers that perform at the apex of global excellence to elevate the international competitiveness of Japanese universities. The selection for the GCOE initiative was very competitive and included several layers of evaluation processes as well as the final phase involving an interview by thirty experts from the entire engineering field. Professor Shinichiro Wakao, the President of TPU; Prof. Ahsan Kareem, representing UND; Prof. Masaaki Ohba, representing the TPU wind environmental group; and myself, the Director of the GCOE Program, attended the 45min interview held on May 7, 2008. The GCOE has been awarded to fourteen teams from thirteen universities, and TPU was informed that it had been awarded the GCOE on June 17th, 2008. The overriding financial support will be made by MEXT for almost five years from July 2008 to March 2013.
The GCOE's focus will be on developing an integrated education and research program that spans a wide spectrum of problems to address wind-related challenges of new frontiers in urban regions of Asia and beyond. The GCOE will focus on education and research on wind effects on buildings and the urban environment with emphasis on three fields: Wind-Resistant Design of structures, Natural/Cross Ventilation and Wind Environment/Air-pollution. Advanced education and research on wind engineering will be conducted by effectively integrating the activities of three groups under the umbrella of the TPU: WERC, whose primary charter is to conduct research and to organize international conferences, symposiums and workshops; the APEC Wind Hazard Mitigation Center (WHMC), which provides education and training to young researchers and engineers; the Wind Engineering Information Center (WEIC), which issues publications, disseminates research reports, experimental databases and educational materials, and provides wind engineers around the world with a leading source of comprehensive information exchange network.
A novel feature of the GCOE is that it will develop a virtual organization utilizing a cyber-based infrastructure to share intellectual and physical infrastructures among participating member countries and organizations through its collaboration with UND. This infrastructure, named VORTEX-Winds ( V irtual O rganization for R educing the T oll of EX treme Winds on society), will house design and analysis modules and knowledge bases involving, for example, aerodynamic databases, wind resistant design databases, and wind hazard databases pooled together from different participants and development of windwiki for advancing research, knowledge and education in a cyberspace. The development of VORTEX-Winds will offer additional cyber-based means of communications among various groups. Thus, GCOE will help establish global wind engineering initiatives that will transcend economic, cultural and technological boundaries among nations.
Many important activities initiated by the 21st Century COE Program will be continued. Regarding international wind engineering activities, the GCOE plans to take on a leadership role by holding around 20 international conferences, symposia and workshops over the next five years, including: the International Symposium on Wind Engineering (ISWE, 3 times), International Workshop on Natural Ventilation (IWNV, 3 times), Workshops on Regional Harmonization of Wind Loading and Wind Environmental Specifications in Asia-Pacific Economies (APEC-WW, 4 times), Korea-Japan Joint Meeting on Wind Engineering (JaWEiK, 4 times) and so on. Regarding the educational programs, in order to develop an exceptional cadre of human resources, the WHMC plans to hold Open Seminars around 20 times a year and to introduce International Internship Programs for PhD students (8 persons a year), Short-term Fellowships (for 3 months, 10 persons a year), and International an Advanced School in Wind Engineering (week-long, once a year). Regarding information and knowledge dissemination, the WEIC has been publishing Newsletters (quarterly, in Japanese) and Bulletins (biannual, in English). E lectronic Aerodynamic Databases, Wind Hazard Databases, and Natural Ventilation Databases have been established and disseminated via the WEIC web site. Wind Engineering IT Contents including streaming services of Open Seminars and so on are also available to anybody via the web site.
We all GCOE members will do our best to achieve our objectives to realize a safe and secure society, to preserve natural resources and to improve environmental conditions around the world, but we will also count on your kind and keen cooperation with us.