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A Student Project On Airfoil Performance

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Improving ME Instructional Laboratories

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.123.1 - 12.123.11



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Paper Authors


John Matsson Oral Roberts University

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O. JOHN E. MATSSON is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He earned M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden in 1988 and 1994, respectively.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A Student Project on Airfoil Performance


This paper shows a course project in an undergraduate engineering program with a mechanical emphasis. The students used LabVIEW software for measurements of the pressure distribution on the surface of a Clark-Y airfoil at different angles of attack in a low-speed wind tunnel. Both the wind tunnel speed and the angle of attack of the airfoil were automatically controlled from the software. Furthermore, the LabVIEW software also controlled the Scanivalve solenoid for pressure measurements. The experiments were compared with computations using the CosmosFloWorks software.


The experimental set up described in this paper is used for demonstrations and labs in the introduction to engineering, fluid mechanics and experimental methods courses at ORU. In the introduction to engineering course the students are introduced to aerodynamics and the airfoil setup is used as a demonstration of the capabilities of LabVIEW software to measure the pressure distribution and calculate lift forces on an airfoil. In the experimental methods course the students learn to use LabVIEW and the Clark-Y set up is therefore used as a lab where the students see an application of LabVIEW for both stepper motor control and measurements. In the fluid mechanics course the lab is more directed towards obtaining the lift coefficient curves for different Reynolds numbers and angles of attack. Furthermore, the intention is also in the future to include measurements of the boundary layer on the airfoil and the wake region downstream of the trailing edge using a Pitot tube and hot-wire anemometry. While it is true that airfoil experiments have been in existence for many years and are manufactured by different companies, it is to the author’s knowledge the first time that pressure distribution measurements have been integrated with stepper motor control of the angle of attack using LabVIEW software. The learning objective has been for the students to get the experience of working together as a design group towards the completion of a specified task that includes the use of their knowledge gained in different courses.

Junior and senior students in the fluid mechanics course designed the experimental setup for pressure measurements around the airfoil. The reason for the selection of this project in this course was to increase student learning by incorporating a lab on airfoil performance which is part of the course curriculum. It is also motivating for the students to work on a project that designs, builds and tests an experimental set up that is later used in different labs and demonstrations by other students during many years. Three of the students worked on the airfoil and stepper motor assembly design while three other students contributed to the wind tunnel speed control portion using LabVIEW programming. Some of the students had individual assignments related to the project as for example one student worked on the stepper motor assembly and fabrication. Two other students worked together as a team on the electronics part of the project by soldering relays and other components that they mounted in a project box and connected to the A/D board and the Scanivalve. At the department we are also fortunate to have

Matsson, J. (2007, June), A Student Project On Airfoil Performance Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1500

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