Inspiring Minds seeks to broaden awareness and impact of graduate student research, while enhancing transferable skills. Students were challenged to describe their research, scholarship or creative activity in 150 or fewer words to share with our community.

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Tornados seem to be touching down more frequently in Ontario recently and, though not as large as those in places like Oklahoma, are a reminder that we live in tornado alley. Therefore, it is crucial that we understand the key characteristics of tornados by creating model versions of them and testing our infrastructure’s ability to withstand them. However, current models still use assumptions based on work from the 1970s that underestimate the destructive potential of tornados, leaving homes inadequately prepared. In sophisticated modern tornado simulations, I have observed movement over many kilometres and dramatic wobbling like a spinning top. With a novel method to track this motion, I have identified dangerous wind speeds over 1.3 times greater and two times further from the tornado centre than previous models predict. My work will provide more accurate modelling and tracking methods to improve infrastructure design for protection against tornados.

Niall Bannigan
MESc candidate, Mechanical and Materials Engineering
Faculty of Engineering - Western University

Eric Savory
Leigh Orf

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Niall Bannigan completed a sequential undergraduate degree in both Mechanical and Materials Engineering and Physics at Western University in 2020 and 2021, respectively. He is currently completing his Master’s in Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Western University as well. His research interest is in thermofluids and, at this time, is working specifically on finding new methods of analyzing tornados simulations to more accurately characterize them. His goal in this research is to develop better ways to define a tornado vortex location within a simulation, and take the more complex meteorological tornado characteristics and apply them to wind engineering studies. From this, future work may be explored in which these findings are used to reduce infrastructure damage and loss of life.

You can connect with Niall on LinkedIn:

View Niall's work as it appears in the Inspiring Minds Digital Collection:

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