Low Speed Wind TunneL Lab



The Aerospace Department’s Low Speed Wind Tunnel is a teaching and research facility located in Building 41B. For general or commercial inquiries, contact lab director Dr. Nandeesh Hiremath, nhiremat@calpoly.edu

Wind Tunnel Specifications:

Top speed: 130mph (190ft/s, 58m/s)

Moving ground (rolling road) belt top speed (2016): 100mph (147ft/s, 45m/s)

Test section: 4ft (w) x 3ft (h) ( 1.22m x 0.91m), 14ft length (4.3m) with ground boundary layer suction over moving ground plane.

Instrumentation: 6-component force balance and position control, 64-channel Scanivalve pressure measurement, 3-axis wake probe traverse for pressure/hot wire measurements, TSI stereo PIV system (2016), custom Labview interface for DAQ.

If you want to personally help us keep Cal Poly’s aeronautical program at the leading edge, give to support Learn By Doing! Many companies offer gift-matching and donations are tax-deductible. Click on the link below to be directed to the Cal Poly’s Secure Donation Page.

For offline gifts, inquiries, or discussions of major naming-rights possibilities for the lab, contact Dr. Paulo Iscold directly, piscold@calpoly.edu, or on 805-756-7140.

We’ve come a long way, but there’s still a lot to do to get the lab up to speed, and with your generous support, we can guarantee that students can gain vital experience with:

  • Completely new lab-based, learn by doing undergraduate class experiences based around unique, creative and innovative projects.  
  • Working with new technologies such as 3d printing in metal and plastic to test novel futuristic, efficient aircraft configurations that wouldn’t have been possible even a decade ago.
  • Earn-by-doing experiences through internships and design/build projects that support student learning while they work as laboratory assistants on research and testing projects.
  • Meaningful development programs in major Design/Build/Fly and Design/Build/Drive projects – the sooner we can complete work on the lab, the sooner our teams can take advantage of their new competitive edge at AIAA, SAE and Ecomarathon competitions!

Cal Poly’s Low Speed Wind Tunnel lab has been a workhorse for the department for decades, serving hundreds of students coming through the aeronautical program under the guidance of the late Dr. Jin Tso, Dr. Graham Doig, and currently Dr. Paulo Iscold – many of our alums have fond memories of climbing on and in the wind tunnel to install models and take measurements, and a host of them have gone on to careers in aerodynamics with NASA, Boeing, Northrup Grumman, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and many others.

We need to keep our facility modern and capable in this fast-moving industry, developing closer ties with industry as we partner with new companies in California’s disruptive automotive industry and the booming remotely piloted aircraft arena.

With the moving ground now physically in place and ongoing electrical upgrades to allow full operation, things really are off to a flying start – particularly with a $50,000 gift facilitated by Jim Frank, Cal Poly AERO alum and President of the Raintree Foundation, and the donation of $10,000 of aluminum extrusions from Futura Industries – a close partner of Cal Poly through our Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering department – which enabled the construction of our new test section.

The department is supporting a major initiative to refurbish the facility, due for completion in 2016/17  – for instance, cutting-edge techniques now mean that we don’t always have to take thousands of readings with probes just to figure out what the air flow is doing around a scale model, we can now use lasers with high speed cameras and other non-intrusive techniques to find out what the flow is doing in 3 dimensions – essential information for any designer.

  • Greatly improved flow quality and new top speed
  • Particle Image Velocimetry System (stereo) for 3d velocity fields
  • New accurate force balance and automated model position control
  • Bigger, better modular test section with full optical access on 3 sides 

The donation of a moving ground plane or “rolling road” from Dan Gurney’s All American Racers in Santa Ana kick-started the initiative – John Fabijanic, a lecturer at Cal Poly’s Mechanical Engineering department and advisor to the Cal Poly Formula SAE club, facilitated the handover, having previously worked for AAR on Le Mans and Indy Cars. It’s not just a glorified treadmill, the industrial-strength belt can hit 100mph and needs a suction fan to hold it in laser-aligned position: that creates a lot of friction, so there’s also a cooling circuit running too… a fine line!

The moving ground will support automotive aerodynamic research as well as student-led development by Cal Poly’s Formula SAE teams, Supermileage 1200mpg car, 65mph human-powered vehicle, and a solar-powered car to break a world land speed record!

PROVE vehicle unveil event

Take a Look Inside the Lab!