Wim van Rees
Wim van Rees joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering as an assistant professor this fall. He received a BS in marine technology in 2006 and an MS with honors in ship hydrodynamics in 2008 from the Delft University of Technology. In 2014, he earned a PhD in computational science and engineering. He joined Harvard as a postdoc in 2014. Van Rees’ work couples the most advanced computational fluid dynamics and structural mechanics available with modern machine learning to design ocean propulsion and energy harvesting systems by evolutionary optimization. His combined background in naval architecture, including design of an America’s Cup vessel, and advanced computational fluid dynamics is unique. The systems that van Rees develops are inspired by nature, but outperform similar biological systems through simulated evolutionary processes that are able to mitigate some disadvantageous constraints of biological evolution. His work has the possibility of transforming ocean utilization around the world through unconventional approaches to transportation and offshore structure design, including extraction of energy from wind, wave, and turbulence, and marine robotics. The advanced computational tools that van Rees has developed, along with the directions of his research, may also enable him to one day unravel the mysteries of turbulence by developing reliable predictive tools.