The Zienkiewicz Institute for Modelling, Data and AI is named for the late Olek C. Zienkiewicz (1921-2009), who served as Professor of Civil Engineering at Swansea University from 1961 and until his passing. Zienkiewicz was an engineer and a mathematician who had a broad vision of modelling the world, and using computers to generate and explore data to solve engineering problems.  He pioneered Finite Element Methods mathematically and computationally and, in particular, expanded enormously their areas of application.

Professor Zienkiewicz’s enthusiasm and hard work led to new generations of computational researchers in Swansea and elsewhere. Professor Lewis FREng, Professor Morgan FREng and the late Professor Owen FRS, FREng were among the early members of Swansea’s increasingly innovative and famous Civil Engineering Department.

As the influence of computational science expanded, computational researchers from different engineering disciplines assembled together to form first a Civil and Computational Engineering Centre, in turn headed by Professor Bonet, Professor Morgan, Professor Hassan and Professor Nithiarasu. In honour of Professor Zienkiewicz, this grouping became known as the Zienkiewicz Centre for Computational Engineering.

In 2022, as part of the new Swansea University Science and Engineering faculty, the Zienkiewicz Institute was created to support computational modelling across the technical disciplines, recognising the original wide vision of modelling, and the new AI computational methods that are transforming our relation with data.  The Zienkiewicz Institute encompasses a large number of full‒time, part–time and emeritus academic staff members, postdocs, independent researchers, and graduate students. It provides a recognisable Swansea community for our various internationally renowned researchers and research groups.

Olek Zienkiewicz 18th May 1921 – 2nd January 2009 Elected FRS 1978

Zienkiewicz profile pic

Olgierd (Olek) Cecil Zienkiewicz (18th May 1921 – 2nd January 2009)

Olek Zienkiewicz is internationally recognised as one of the three pioneering developers of the Finite Element Method (FEM) - the others being John Argyris and Ray Clough. FEM is a computer-based mathematical technique that has, since the 1960s, revolutionised design and analysis procedures in civil, mechanical, aerospace and other branches of engineering.

Initially, the formulation of the method followed a traditional structural engineering approach but as the underlying mathematics became understood and extended its application to other disciplines became possible. The methodology remains a flourishing research topic and its application has been shown to have considerable potential in new scientific areas, including biomedical engineering and the life sciences.  

For further details you may read:

D. Roger J. Owen, Olgierd (Olek) Cecil Zienkiewicz

John V Tucker, The Computer Revolution and Us: Computer Science at Swansea University from the 1960s