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Image-based wind tunnel equipment for advancement of student design capabilities

Department of Aerospace and Astronautics








Funds are requested for the purchase of image-based diagnostic equipment that will revolutionize student wind tunnel testing capabilities at UW. Such testing is central to the goals of a wide range of student design teams and Registered Student Organizations (RSOs) but their ability to visualize aerodynamic and structural issues with their designs is currently lacking. This new equipment will provide a transformative capability for students to obtain near real-time feedback on the potential and efficiency of their work, while providing highly valuable experience with equipment prized in the job market. The proposed system is capable of simultaneous measurement of vehicle aerodynamics and structural movement. Accounting for the coupled interaction of fluids and structures is central to modern engineering design as we seek to make structures lighter and vehicles more efficient. Such a capability will drastically change the capacity and ambitions of student projects and clubs, who are unable to visualize and study aerodynamic flowfields using current technologies available in UW’s wind tunnels. This analysis is a crucial step in the design process. This equipment will provide them with the ability to explore the edges of the engineering envelope using tools now common and prized in industry. The proposed equipment is modular and portable, combining a Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) system for visualization of aerodynamics and a Digital Image Correlation (DIC) system for the measurement of structural movement. It would be housed within the 3’x3’ low-speed wind tunnel within the Aeronautics and Astronautics (AA) Department and be made available for use in other locations on a sign-out system. This facility is dedicated to supporting student labs, design projects and research throughout the year, with over 40 students comprising 15 projects conducted within the past year. Wind tunnel testing is a central aspect of many students’ educational experience at UW. This equipment will create a connection between theory and practice, providing students with the tools necessary to properly explore and visualize the results of their design decisions. Such experience is prized within industry and will aid in recruitment post-graduation.

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