About us


The Society holds a two day workshop approximately every 18 months. The aim of these workshops is to provide an open forum for discussion of research and industrial activities in the wind engineering, wind energy, and industrial aerodynamics fields. Members and invited guest speakers are encouraged to present related work they have been involved in since the last workshop. AWES workshops are intentionally maintained as informal meetings allowing members to present “to-date” research findings without the constraints of formal conferences. This arrangement allows the most rapid dissemination of the work of our members, to each other and to the wider engineering community. Information on our next workshop can be found under Events.

Associated with these workshops the Society organises a one day seminar for practicing engineers on wind engineering related topics. These seminars include discussion on aspects of the Australia/New Zealand Wind Code.

The Society also produces biannual newsletters distributed to members via the website and a mailout.


National Committee

The Society’s National Committee and their roles for 2018-2019 are:

matthew mason

Dr Matthew Mason (Chair) is a lecturer in the School of Civil Engineering at The University of Queensland. Over the last decade he has worked as a researcher, lecturer and consultant in Australia, Japan and the USA in the areas of wind engineering and natural hazard risk modelling and assessment. He has a strong interest in better understanding the nature of, and risk posed by, non-stationary wind events such as downbursts, tropical cyclones and tornadoes. Matthew has been a member of the AWES since 2002 and on the National Committee since 2009.

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Dr Korah Parackal

Dr Korah Parackal (Secretary) is a research fellow at the Cyclone Testing Station at James Cook University and joined the team as a research assistant in 2013 after completing his Civil Engineering degree at the University of Queensland.
After working in Singapore during 2014 as a Structural Engineer, he returned to JCU to complete a PhD on progressive failures of roofing connections during windstorms.
During his time at the station he has been involved with wind tunnel testing, strength testing of building products, collecting wind speed data during cyclones and post-event damage investigations.

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Dr Seifu Bekele (Treasurer) is a technical director and Global wind engineering leader for Mott Macdonald. He has been a director and a principal engineer for Global Wind Technology Services for eight years responsible for the development of wind engineering and computations fluid dynamics. He has been also a principal wind engineer for the Building and Infrastructure Division of Vipac Engineers & Scientists for nine years.  He has extensive experience in experimental and computational fluid dynamics wind engineering consultancy of structural, cladding, environmental and microclimate study worldwide.

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leighton cochrane

Dr Leighton Cochran (Strategic Industry Engagement) has returned to Brisbane after over two decades working as a structural and wind engineer in the United States. Much of his work entailed wind-tunnel studies of new and refurbished buildings to obtain design data on cladding wind pressures, dynamic structural wind loads, snow loads, pedestrian comfort, and dispersion of pollutants. During his time in the US he was Chair of the ASCE Structural Wind Engineering Committee (2005-2011) and Secretary of the ASCE Environmental Wind Engineering Committee (2000-2006). He cofounded and guided the creation of the ASCE Technical Council on Wind Engineering, which is an umbrella wind-engineering panel that guides wind-engineering issues across all the ASCE Institutes. Leighton was also a presenter of the two annual wind-engineering-oriented webinars that ASCE (2007-2012) holds via the Internet. In recent years he was  President of the American Association for Wind Engineering (2007-2008), the oldest wind-engineering professional society in the US that was founded in 1966, and he continues to be involved with that organization as the Americas Regional Coordinator for the International Association for Wind Engineering. Leighton is also on the Applied Technology Council Board until 2017. Througout his career Leighton has remained a member of the AWES.

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 Daniel Smith

Dr Daniel Smith (Newsletter Editor and Website/Social Media Manager) is a Post-doctoral Research Fellow with the Cyclone Testing Station at James Cook University. His research experience covers a wide range of wind engineering disciplines including: insurance claims analysis , field-deployment, vulnerability and fragility modelling, wind-borne debris modelling, post-event damage assessment, structural retrofit for wind and water ingress, wind tunnel testing and societal behavior during disasters. Daniel is also the director of ResilientResidence™, a mobile application tool that allows homeowners to self-asses the vulnerability of their home to wind and wind-driven rain damages.

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Richard Flay

Prof. Richard Flay (NZ Representative) is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Director of the Yacht Research Unit at the University of Auckland. His interests in wind engineering include full-scale measurements, wind tunnel investigations of hills, wind turbines, buildings, and boats. He has carried out the aerodynamic design of a number of wind tunnels, including the Twisted Flow Wind Tunnel which was the first of its type specifically designed for testing yacht sails. He teaches, researches, and consults in wind engineering in New Zealand, and is also a Guest Professor in the Global Centre of Excellence Program at Tokyo Polytechnic University. He was chair of the 9th Asia-Pacific Conference on Wind Engineering, held in Auckland in 2017.

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Dr Amir Pirooz

Dr Amir Pirooz is a numerical weather prediction (NWP)/computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modeller and analyst at NIWA, New Zealand. His work primarily involves developing New Zealand’s high-resolution NWP reanalysis model and NWP-CFD coupling. Amir recently received his PhD in wind engineering from the University of Auckland under the supervision of Prof. Richard Flay. Amir’s main project focused on the estimation of New Zealand’s design wind speeds and associated multipliers for the new version of AS/NZS1170.2:2021.

Amir has been involved in various wind engineering disciplines, including homogenisation and extreme value analysis, investigation of airflow over complex terrain, studying various wind measuring systems and signal processing, CFD simulation of urban areas. Over the past few years, Amir has also been involved in different wind engineering consulting projects at the University of Auckland, such as pedestrian wind speeds, pressure and force-balance tests, and wind-borne debris. Amir was a short-term research fellow at the Tokyo Polytechnic University in 2019.

Life Members

John Holmes

Dr John Holmes is Director, JDH Consulting, Australia, and is a Life Member of the AWES. At various times between 1973 and 2004 Dr. Holmes has held research and teaching positions at the University of Western Ontario (Canada), James Cook University, CSIRO, Monash University, Texas Tech University and Louisiana State University (United States). John is Chair of the Wind Actions subcommittee of Australia and New Zealand, and was actively involved in the writing of Australian Standards AS1170.2-1989, AS/NZS1170.2:2002 (Wind loads) and AS3995-1994 (Design of steel lattice towers and masts). He is the author of: “Wind Loading of Structures”, 2nd edition, published in 2007, and co-author of “A Guide to AS/NZS1170.2:2002 – Wind Actions” published in 2005. John has also been a consultant in the determination of design wind loads for many major structures and industrial plants, and in several legal actions involving wind loads.

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George Walker

Dr George Walker A New Zealander by birth, George obtained a PhD in Earthquake Engineering in 1966 from the University of Auckland. After experience in the prestressed concrete industry in New Zealand and the nuclear power industry in the UK he joined James Cook University where, following Cyclone Althea in 1971, he specialised in wind engineering, leading the investigation of the damage to Darwin from Cyclone Tracy and playing a major role in the changes to building standards which followed. In 1989 he joined CSIRO as Assistant Chief of the Division of Building Construction and Engineering, and in 1994 he moved into the reinsurance industry, joining what is now Aon Benfield where he utilised his combined background in wind and earthquake engineering to become one of the pioneers of catastrophe loss risk modelling in Australia. More recently he has become an international leader in the design of disaster insurance schemes.

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Bill Melbourne

Professor Bill Melbourne has over 35 years experience as a researcher and engineering consultant in wind engineering. He is an Emeritus Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Monash University. He still has an active research interest in wind engineering, notably in the areas of wind loading and response of structures to wind action, wind flow over complex terrain, turbulent flows and their interaction with bluff bodies, and dispersion of atmospheric pollutants. Bill is Chairperson of the committee developing the ISO Wind Loading code and is involved with writing the joint Australian/New Zealand Wind Loading Code.

Kenny Kwok

Professor Kenny Kwok‘s contribution to the field of wind engineering has spanned four decades and has covered the broad areas of structural dynamics, wind effects on structures, wind tunnel modelling, environmental fluid mechanics, vibration control and occupant comfort assessment. Kenny now holds a Professorial Chair in the School of Engineering at the University of Western Sydney and is an Emeritus Professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Prof. Kwok also holds the position of Asia-Oceania Regional Coordinator for the International Association of Wind Engineering.

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John Cheung

A/Prof John Cheung  was inducted as an AWES Life Member in 2010. John served as AWES Treasurer from 1994–2000 and as Chairman from 1999 – 2007. John moved from Hong Kong to Newcastle in 1975 where he studied (University of Newcastle) and worked till graduating in 1978. John then moved to Melbourne and obtained his PhD from Monash University where he continued on as a Research Fellow for the next 30 years. His work has been associated with MEL Consultants Pty Ltd as Engineer/Director in wind tunnel testing and consultancy, particularly with respect to environmental wind studies, pressure measurements, wind loading on structures and air dispersion. In 2008, he joined the University of Adelaide as Professor and Head of the Wind Engineering Research Group. In 2011, he returned Hong Kong as Associate Professor in the City University and has extended his interests in Wind Power and Air Ventilation.

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Chris Letchford

Prof Chris Letchford was awarded Life Membership status in 2013. Chris is a previous Chair of the AWES, serving from 2008 to 2009 and from 1995 to 1999. He chaired the 4th Asia-Pacific Symposium on Wind Engineering in 1997 and chaired the scientific and technical committee of the 11th International Conference on Wind Engineering in 2003. From 2007-2010 Chris served as the Asia-Oceania representative to the International Association of Wind Engineering and is co-chair of the 2016 Bluff Body Aerodynamics & Applications conference in Boston. Currently Head of the Civil & Environmental Engineering Department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in upstate New York, Chris teaches across solid and fluid mechanics, and is a Fellow of Engineers Australia and the ASCE. Chris’ research has covered all facets of wind engineering with recent focus on; fluidic aerodynamic modification of buildings for improved performance, simulation of downburst and tornado winds and the investigation of wind fields above waves and topography.

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