Background And History
Support for the establishment and operation of WERC was furnished through the Engineering Mechanics Program of the National Science Foundation which was directed by Dr. Michael P. Gaus. The initial objectives of WERC were to serve as an information resource for the wind engineering design and research communities and to develop a membership list of persons interested in and active in the wind engineering field. Under the NSF grants WERC became active in developing an information collection housed at Northwestern University and in providing a service to respond to inquiries regarding wind engineering problems and in organizing meetings and workshops in the wind engineering area. WERC fulfilled a valuable function in promoting communication between persons involved in the wind engineering field and in promoting technology transfer of new wind engineering knowledge developed through research programs.
WERC had a number of years of successful operation in which WERC was active in facilitating communication between wind researchers, in working toward developing information for improved wind building codes and standards and in sponsoring or participating in the organization of national and international wind meetings and in facilitating the dispatch of investigators to collect perishable information after damaging wind events (in conjunction with the National Academy of Engineering). A number of other WERC coordinating activities were carried on including the publication of the Wind Engineering Digest which was prepared due to the efforts of Prof. Arthur Chiu of the University of Hawaii.
A major disruption in the WERC activities occurred in 1972 when the Assistant Director for Mathematics, Physical Sciences and Engineering, Dr. Edward Creutz, decreed that the Engineering Section should not get involved in the transfer of research results into practice and should only concentrate on the support of “basic” research. Engineering at that time was not considered as a seperate activity and was lumped in with Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics in the National Science Foundation. Under this decree, funds for the operation of WERC from NSF were discontinued.
At a wind engineering meeting in 1974 the attending members of WERC got together to decide on the future of WERC, as Dr. Parmalee was not in a position to continue the activities at Northwestern University for any long period of time without some source of support. It was decided at the meeting to develop WERC into a membership subscription organization, more along the lines of the EERI which had recently switched from an invitation only membership to an open subscription membership, and to find a new location for WERC. Dr. Jack Cermak and his colleagues from Colorado State University volunteered to take over the operation of WERC with the goal to incorporate the organization as a non-profit group in the State of Colorado. Initial funding to accomplish this change resulted from personal financial donations to WERC from Mr. Lester Robertson, Dr. Michael Gaus, Dr.Richard Parmalee and Prof. Cermak.
WERC was formally incorporated in the State of Colorado in 1976 with Prof. Jack Cermak serving as president and with Prof. Jon Peterka making major contributions while serving in a number of official positions for ten years. WERC was active in organizing various national and international meetings during this time. The organization had a small but dedicated membership who continued to work toward a better understanding of wind phenomena as related to engineering problems and to work to mitigating the damaging and disruptive effects of wind.
In 1986 it was decided to shift the executive activities of WERC to Texas Tech University where Profs. Kishor Mehta and Jim McDonald arranged to administer the operations of WERC at Texas Tech University. Prof. Mehta has also served as the Chairman of the committee which took on the responsibility to revise the ANSI standard which has now become the ASCE Wind Load Standard. After a number of years of successful operation of WERC through Texas Tech University, Prof. Dale Perry of Texas A & M University took over the job of directing the activities of WERC in 1989.
In 1994 Prof. Ahsam Kareem was elected to the Presidency of WERC and the organizational headquarters were moved to Notre Dame University. After due consideration it was decided to change the name of the organization to the American Association for Wind Engineering and the change to this name was made in 1995.
The American Association for Wind Engineering plans to take an active position in formulating plans to help to mitigate the $36 billion of direct wind losses (1995 dollars) in the U.S. each year, to reduce loss of life and to improve public safety and reduce disruption due to wind events. This will be a broad-based plan which will look at the total picture of wind engineering related phenomena. Interested persons are encouraged to join AAWE and to participate in planning for the future to reduce damaging effects of the wind and to capitalize on positive effects of wind such as reducing energy consumption and gaining energy from the wind.
If you are not now associated with AAWE, please consider joining today!