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Sports In Engineering: Two Hands On Experiments

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.1069.1 - 14.1069.7



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Paper Authors

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Jennifer Kadlowec Rowan University

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Howard Pearlman Drexel University

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Ali Navvab Gloucester County College

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

Sports in Engineering: Two Hands-On Experiments

Abstract A multidisciplinary team of faculty and students from two universities and a county college have developed a set of hands-on modules to introduce engineering students to mechanical, aerospace, and chemical engineering concepts and principles through their application to sports. The modules allow for students to explore topics such as aerodynamics, mechanics of materials and transport. In an aerodynamics module, the students study the effects of the rotation rate and the relative ball velocity on the lift and drag forces on a baseball. These forces play a key role in determination of the trajectory of the ball. In a mechanics module, concepts associated with the mechanics (modulus, stress, strain) of sporting materials are addressed. For these two modules a description of the development, use, and results in addition to feedback acquired from student surveys are presented.

Aerodynamics of Sportsballs

Ball games date back to ancient times and the earliest representations can be found in carvings in Egyptian temples dating from 1500BC. European monks played for recreation during religious ceremonies, but used their hands; and later the game became popular amongst noblemen and kings. Major Walter Wingfield invented equipment and a game that evolved into modern day tennis, a high-tech competitive sport that captivates millions of players and fans. In many such sports, aerodynamics plays a key role in determining the pressure and shear stress distributions on the sports balls and sporting equipment and in turn affects the forces (lift and drag) that determine their motion [1]. As such, the objectives of this module are to explore the dependencies of the geometry, surface properties, and translational and rotational motion of sports balls and equipment on the lift and drag forces and measure these forces in a windtunnel for a range of representative flow speeds and rotation rates. These forces are then nondimensionalized and the lift and drag coefficients are determined as a function of nondimensional groups including the Reynold's number and the 'Spin Parameter'. The results are then compared to available data in the literature [2-6].


1. Windtunnel: An educational windtunnel (model 1440) manufactured by Flotek (Fig.1) was used for all testing and provided a controlled, uniform air flow. The windtunnel is an open system and has a 12” x 12” x 36” test section. Air is drawn through a honeycomb flow straightener to ensure laminar flow at the entrance (right side) and exhausted through a blower motor mounted on left side of the tunnel. The air velocity through the rectangular test section is variable with a maximum speed of 90 mph. The air speed is computed using a pitot tube mounted at the entrance of the test section.


Kadlowec, J., & Pearlman, H., & Navvab, A. (2009, June), Sports In Engineering: Two Hands On Experiments Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5304

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