Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Kurt K. Maute

Second Advisor

Alireza Doostan

Third Advisor

Peter Hamlington

Fourth Advisor

Mark Rentschler

Fifth Advisor

Y.C. Lee


Computational design optimization provides designers with automated techniques to develop novel and non-intuitive optimal designs. Topology optimization is a design optimization technique that allows for the evolution of a broad variety of geometries in the optimization process. Traditional density-based topology optimization methods often lack a sufficient resolution of the geometry and physical response, which prevents direct use of the optimized design in manufacturing and the accurate modeling of the physical response of boundary conditions. The goal of this thesis is to introduce a unified topology optimization framework that uses the Level Set Method (LSM) to describe the design geometry and the eXtended Finite Element Method (XFEM) to solve the governing equations and measure the performance of the design. The methodology is presented as an alternative to density-based optimization approaches, and is able to accommodate a broad range of engineering design problems. The framework presents state-of-the-art methods for immersed boundary techniques to stabilize the systems of equations and enforce the boundary conditions, and is studied with applications in 2D and 3D linear elastic structures, incompressible flow, and energy and species transport problems to test the robustness and the characteristics of the method. A comparison of the framework against density-based topology optimization approaches is studied with regards to convergence, performance, and the capability to manufacture the designs. Furthermore, the ability to control the shape of the design to operate within manufacturing constraints is developed and studied. The analysis capability of the framework is validated quantitatively through comparison against previous benchmark studies, and qualitatively through its application to topology optimization problems. The design optimization problems converge to intuitive designs and resembled well the results from previous 2D or density-based studies.