Mihkel Kõrgesaar Appointed Professor in Naval Architecture

Tallinn University of Technology has appointed Mihkel Kõrgesaar as Professor in Naval Architecture at Estonian Maritime Academy Centre for the Blue Economy. The purpose of the professorship is to lead R&D in the fields of naval architecture and hydrodynamics.

“We have reached a new era with the appointment of the Professor in Naval Architecture at the Centre for the Blue Economy. This is the first professorship on Saaremaa and the very first tenure-track professorship in the Maritime Academy. There will be a real naval architecture R&D innovation hub on Saaremaa, and in cooperation with local companies and the municipality, it will hopefully lead to even greater international recognition for Estonian shipbuilding.”

Roomet Leiger, Director of the Estonian Maritime Academy

The newly appointed professor considers the job to be full of challenges. One of his main goals is to develop a simulation laboratory in the SCC,

“The biggest challenge facing shipbuilding is energy efficiency and related changes in design. New structure solutions require the successful integration and synergy of different fields of research. Utilizing new solutions necessitates their thorough validation through tests and simulations.

The SCC materials laboratory and towing tank are the perfect combination for studying new structure solutions. As an extension, I anticipate a simulation laboratory where virtual testing is conducted. Virtual testing is fast; however, reliable simulations also require experimental validation.”

Professor Kõrgesaar’s research focuses on plastic deformation and ductile fracture of metals. Simply put, he studies possibilities for creating lighter, safer and more energy-efficient hulls. Professor Kõrgesaar successfully defended his doctoral thesis on modelling ductile fracture in ship structures with shell elements at Aalto University in 2015.

Professor Kõrgesaar explains that plastic deformations can simply be understood as permanent deformations,

“Everyone has probably used metal wire at home to tie something together. If you bend metal wire enough, it will retain its new shape and is thus plastically deformed. Metals such as steel and aluminium have the capacity to deform plastically, and thus can withstand some overload. This is why they are preferred in load-bearing structures. When fracture is preceded by plastic deformation then it is ductile fracture. Contrary to plastic materials, brittle materials such as glass and ice can only be deformed plastically to a small extent before they exhibit brittle fracture.”

Ductile fracture of metals is a current research topic in R&D centres around the world as work potentially results in safer, lighter and thus more energy efficient transportation devices. In 2014, Professor Kõrgesaar’s research was noticed by the field’s leading research group in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) who invited Kõrgesaar to be the speaker at their annual seminar, attended by the world’s largest automotive and aircraft manufacturers.