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Online Wind Tunnel Laboratory

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Fluid Mechanics Experiments and Laboratories

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.949.1 - 13.949.19



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Paper Authors

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El-Sayed Aziz Stevens Institute of Technology

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Constantin Chassapis Stevens Institute of Technology

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Sven Esche Stevens Institute of Technology

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Sumei Dai China University of Mining and Technology

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Shanjun Xu China University of Mining and Technology

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Ruiqing Jia China University of Mining and Technology

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

Online Wind Tunnel Laboratory Abstract

Wind tunnels are among the most important design tools used in engineering to study the effects of air moving over or around solid objects such as airplane wings, cars, trains, skyscrapers, bridges, etc. While introducing wind tunnels to engineering students as part of their laboratory experience contributes to improving their understanding of fundamental fluid mechanics concepts, the significant equipment cost renders the student use of wind tunnels in a traditional hands-on mode infeasible for most educational institutions.

This paper presents the development of an online wind tunnel laboratory, which combines real-time remote access to an actual wind tunnel with a software-based virtual wind tunnel. The remote experiment system allows the students to explore the air flow patterns around various objects, the orientations of which can be controlled interactively. This experimental setup provides the students with real-time measurements for pressure, velocity and drag force in conjunction with streamed audio and video. These remote experiments can be complemented by virtual experiments, in which the shape, size and orientation of the physical objects available in the remote setup can be modified or these objects can be replaced entirely by other objects for which no physical models exist. This blended laboratory approach combining hardware-based experiments with software simulations expands the set of possible experiments well beyond that which could be performed within the confines of the remote laboratory alone. Using this powerful approach, the students can gain confidence in the validity of the software simulations through comparisons of the simulation results with data from actual hardware-based experiments. At the same time, the flexibility of software simulations enables the expansion of the scope of the experiments to parameter ranges and configurations that would not be suitable for the actual wind tunnel. For example, the virtual experiment allows the students to explore the lift and drag forces acting on different realistic airfoil types oriented at varying angles of attack.

1. Introduction

Traditional hands-on laboratories are educationally effective for illustrating complex theoretical concepts taught in lectures. While they add an active learning component to courses, they also impose significant space, time and personnel costs on the educational institutions. These costs can be significantly reduced by using Web-based remote or virtual laboratories. Currently, Stevens Institute or Technology (SIT)1,2,3 as well as many other educational institutions4,5 are using the Internet to implement and share remote and virtual laboratories and thus to enhance the educational experience of students. Real wind tunnels are very expensive, which renders their student use in a traditional hands-on mode infeasible for most educational institutions. Recently, an interactive Web-based virtual fluid mechanics laboratory for enhancing the students’ understanding of some complex concepts of fluid mechanics was reported.6 In this virtual laboratory, simulations of various fluid flow phenomena are integrated with interactive graphics and animations in order to give the students the feel of conducting realistic experiments. The set of available virtual fluid mechanics experiments includes for instance an airfoil/body wind tunnel, an air/oil flow rig, etc. A similar fluids mechanics and hydraulics laboratory was developed elsewhere, which combines course materials with real-time, remotely-controlled laboratory experiments and numerical simulations delivered “any time/any place” over the World Wide

Aziz, E., & Chassapis, C., & Esche, S., & Dai, S., & Xu, S., & Jia, R. (2008, June), Online Wind Tunnel Laboratory Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3402

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