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Design Of A Wind Tunnel Facility For Hands On Use By Beginning Engineering Students

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.372.1 - 7.372.10



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Paper Authors

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Ralph Budwig

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Beyerlein Steve

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Matthew Cunnington

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Levi Westra

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Donald Elger

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

Main Menu Session 1526

Design of a Wind Tunnel Facility for Hands-on Use by Beginning Engineering Students

J. Matthew Cunnington, Levi J. Westra, Steven W. Beyerlein, Ralph S. Budwig, Donald F. Elger

University of Idaho Mechanical Engineering Moscow, ID 83844-0902


The best way to learn engineering is by doing engineering. To foster appropriate types of experiential learning, we have created a unique project called a Design for Lifetime Learning (DL2) project. This paper addresses one element of this overall effort—the design and construction of a wind tunnel facility to support hands-on learning by beginning engineering students. The wind tunnel facility was designed so each student can operate the tunnel with less than ten minutes of training. The wind tunnel, powered by a 37 kW motor, can generate air velocities of 70 m/s in the 45-cm square test-section. A state-of-the-art electronic force balance provides lift, drag, and pitching moment data. The control and instrumentation systems are designed to promote ease of use. Assessment data from students participating in a pre-college summer camp indicated that the wind tunnel was easy to use and that the wind tunnel enhanced the students’ educational experience.


Training leads to desired behaviors. When a professor teaches so a student can get the correct answer on an engineering problem, this is training. Meaningful learning leads to a change in the meaning of experience, which is a fundamental shift in the point-of-view of the learner 5. To promote meaningful learning, we have created a unique project called a Design for Lifetime Learning (DL 2) project 2. One element of this overall effort is the design and construction of a wind tunnel facility. In this context, meaningful learning involves typical skills such as engineering documentation in a lab notebook, use of math and scientific concepts, and creation of an appropriate procedure for acquiring data. Also, the learning is structured to foster teamwork, to help students realize the value of good experimental practice and to help students learn the distinctive features of good engineering practice. The key purpose of the wind tunnel and each associated project is to create an environment in which meaningful learning can occur.

Integrating wind tunnel experiments into engineering science or laboratory courses has been done for many years. Experiments can reinforce concepts taught in the classroom and provide experiences for future learning 3. To reinforce concepts taught in a first engineering science course, Foss developed a wind tunnel facility in which the students performed experiments

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Budwig, R., & Steve, B., & Cunnington, M., & Westra, L., & Elger, D. (2002, June), Design Of A Wind Tunnel Facility For Hands On Use By Beginning Engineering Students Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10533

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