Young ERCOFTAC Spring School in Montestigliano - a series of workshops for graduate students


The education of young scientists is traditionally confined to classroom instruction and training-on-the- job, through course offerings at universities and active engagement in a research project. This avenue of education is based on a curriculum of classical material that has stood the test of time and has established itself as the canon for scientific inquiry. However, only a small percentage of this curriculum commonly can be applied to the specific details of a research project. While this way of educating young scientists is necessary for a broad background of skills and knowledge, it has to be complemented by more specific, more modern and more timely material to round out the training of future scientists. The transfer of this type of knowledge, however, should not follow the format of traditional education, but instead encourage a more active engagement of student, with hands-on examples, team-work and learning-by-doing, rather than a passive exposure to scientific methodology. The YOUNG ERCOFTAC initiative has been founded to provide an active and modern educational component to graduate students interested in the core disciplines of ERCOFTAC. In its vision, it not only offers material in key technologies that go beyond the standard curriculum in scope and detail, it also introduces future generations of scientists to techniques and topics in fluid dynamics across all scales and across numerous application areas.


The YOUNG ERCOFTAC workshop series has been inaugurated in 2007, following an initiative of Pilot Center Germany South (Prof. W. Rodi) and endorsed by ERCOFTAC. It has taken place in the spring (April) of each year (except 2013) at Montestigliano, Italy, a converted, former olive farm in Tuscany, 15 km South of Siena. The location has been ideal for distraction-free work within a relaxed, but stimulating atmosphere. The workshop attracts 12-15 students per year, across many countries and at various levels of their career. The main scientific supervision is carried out by a principal invited speaker as well as the organizational team. Further team-building and cohort-training is enforced by the remote nature of the location, which necessitates cooperation beyond the scientific projects: meals and other duties are shared by all participants. This format has proven its mettle in bringing together participants from different scientific and cultural backgrounds in the fastest possible manner. The positive feedback gathered over the past twelve workshops attests to this.

Initial funding for the first few workshops has been provided by ERCOFTAC, after which alternative funding has been provided by Ecole Polytechnique, LASIPS France, KTH and EUROMECH to maintain the work- shop as a continued undertaking. More recently, ERCOFTAC has resumed funding of the workshop series, as part of its initiative for young scientists, and has provided block funding for five consecutive workshops with a budget of 5,500 Euros per workshop. This funding is supplemented by a nominal registration fee which is covered by the home institute of each participants. Major budget items are: accommodation for all participants, travel expenses for the invited speaker(s), and transportation. The registration fee commonly covers board for all participants for the entire week, including the final dinner.

The workshop has covered a multitude of topics, closely aligned with the interests of ERCOFTAC, but also considering recent and interesting developments in fluid dynamics. Topics covered during the workshops include: flow control, model reduction, derivative-free optimisation, fast direct solvers, computational aeroacoustics, combustion instabilities, mesh-free methods, weakly nonlinear expansions and nonlinear stability concepts, lattice-Boltzmann techniques, network-methods for fluid systems, etc.


The organizational team has started as a two-person team, consisting of Prof. J. Sesterhenn (then, UniBw Munich) and Prof. P. Schmid (then, CNRS/Ecole Polytechnique), for the first two years (2007, 2008); after this initial period, the organization was carried forth by P. Schmid, before recruiting Prof. S. Bagheri (KTH Stockholm). To allow for more flexibility in the organization of the workshop, to accommodate possible scheduling conflicts and to ensure maximal continuity of the workshop series, Dr. T. Sayadi (Sorbonne Univ.) has joined the organizational team. Each of the team members is intimately familiar with the workshop format and the execution of the workshop in all its aspects. The local organization is greatly aided by the management team of the Montestigliano estate which, over the many years, has become equally familiar with the workshop and its needs. Below are short biographical sketches of the organizational team.

Peter Schmid is Chair of Applied Mathematics in the Mathematics Department at Imperial College Lon- don. His research focuses on stability, receptivity and control problems for fluid flows, quantitative flow analysis and computational methods in fluid dynamics. He has held positions in the United States (Boeing Professorship at the University of Washington) and in France (research director with the French National Research Agency CNRS and chair d’excellence at the Ecole Polytechnique), before joining Imperial College.

Shervin Bagheri is Professor of Fluid Mechanics at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm. He is head of an active research group, interested in the interaction of fluid flow with flexible surfaces. He obtained his Ph.D. from KTH and spent one year as Marie Curie Fellow in Genova, Italy before receiving an assistant professor position funded by the Swedish Research Council. In 2019 he was promoted to Full Professor in the Department of Mechanics, KTH.

Taraneh Sayadi is Research Associate with the French National Research Agency (CNRS) in the Institute d’Alembert of Sorbonne University in Paris. She is interested in compressible flows, direct numerical simulations, flow control, optimisation and model reduction. She graduated with a Ph.D. from Stanford University and spent three years as a research associate at Ecole Polytechnique, Imperial College London and RWTH Aachen, before joining the CNRS and Sorbonne University.


Based on the success of the YOUNG ERCOFTAC workshop series and the positive feedback we received from participants and invited speakers alike, we would like to request funding in the form of a block grant for five years. The level of funding should follow the current amount (5,500 Euros/year) which, together with the complementary registration fee, will ensure the proper continuation of the workshop series. Over the course of the workshop series, additional costs (such as inflation adjustments for housing, tourist taxes and heating charges) have been raised, but could be compensated by the registration fee. For this reason, we believe that the current level of funding will be sufficient for the next five years.

At the moment, we have discussed potential speakers for the upcoming workshops (if this proposal is successful), which include Profs. S. Zaleski and R. Scardovelli on “Multiphase fluid simulations” (April 2020) and Prof. S. Brunton on “Machine learning techniques for fluid flows” (April 2021). Beyond this time horizon, discussions of potential topics have been initiated, but no particular plans have been made. In any case, the current activity in fluid dynamics will provide ample opportunity for exploration and for putting together a workshop for interested graduate students.