Wind Tunnel Progress Update

February 09, 2016 The major refurbishment of Cal Poly Aerospace Engineering Department's Low Speed Wind Tunnel Laboratory hit another milestone last week - after 7 months out of action, the tunnel roared back to life to verify that the new test section and a suite of other upgrades were ready for action.

Just as well that everything was in top condition - the lab hosted FLIR Systems engineers from Goleta, CA, who came to Cal Poly to test their new marine night vision M-400 camera in hurricane-strength gusts. Long-time wind tunnel lab employees Andrew Furmidge and Matt Paul, with plenty of help on the day from assistants David Alexander and Danny Stalters, ran the test program for the client. Lab director Dr. Graham Doig commented "Cal Poly prides itself in producing day-one-ready graduates for industry, so what better way to prepare students for the real world than having them run real-world aerodynamic tests in our lab?".



Several other students – particularly Riess Haslam (Aero), Noah Sadler (ME) - have also been working away in the lab getting the tunnel ready for upcoming tests on a slew of student projects, with models ranging from Cal Poly’s PROVE Lab land speed record solar car to Dr. Doig's bird wing aerodynamics project to a mockup of Cal Poly Space Systems' latest rocket. The number of students working in the lab over the last year has been a real point of pride for Doig. "Taking the tunnel apart and putting it back together better than ever has so far given over a dozen students invaluable, hands-on experience with what really makes a facility like this work - both the technical aspects, and seeing through complex, multi-disciplinary sub-projects with tight budgets and even tighter timelines. As well as our Aero student interns and volunteers, we also employ two students from Mechanical Engineering and are sponsoring two ME senior projects on tunnel upgrades. That mix of Aerospace, Mechanical, and Mechatronic students has been completely essential to getting us where we are". The lab upgrade has been a priority project for Doig's team at the Fluids Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Projects (FLIP) since he arrived at Cal Poly at the start of 2015.

In the coming few months, the tunnel will be getting its new force balance in place, it's pressure measurement system re-activated, and it's new non-intrusive laser measurement system commissioned. There's still a long way to go and the lab needs supporters to keep backing the tunnel refurbishment to make sure the long-awaited rolling road is operational by summer 2016. Says Doig, "so far we've been putting all our effort into just making the wind tunnel as good as it can be, now we're actively planning what we can do with it in the near future. The really fun stuff - testing models, improving designs - is just about to start". To find out more about the Low Speed Wind Tunnel Lab, and how your support can enhance Aerospace Department's Learn By Doing student opportunities, click here.