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Teaching with wind

Professor Riccardo Bonazza might say that, in his Applied Aerodynamics course (EMA 601), learning is now a breeze--thanks to the department's new wind tunnel. The machine, a gift from Greenheck Fan Corporation, Schofield, Wisconsin, enables students to see how airflow affects two- and three-dimensional wings and compare the results to data generated from computer simulations involving the same wings. Rockwell Automation donated the frequency drive to control the fan speed.
New wind tunnel

Professor Bonazza (right) shown here with Assistant Scientist Mark Anderson (left) and Associate Instrumentation Specialist Paul Brooks, (background). (25K JPG)

EMA undergraduates Matt Orzewalla and Marty Gissel designed the tunnel during their senior year. Its test area is 4 feet wide and 3 feet tall and allows students to test the performance of thin airfoils of varying aspect ratios over a range of wind speeds (up to 200 mph) and angles of attack.

Bonazza debuted the tunnel in his spring 2000 class--its second offering--and says the course's hands-on format is a response to students' requests to see the phenomena he describes on the blackboard implemented in a real laboratory.

In the class, students work in teams to perform an extended case study of a particular wing cross section. They learn FLUENT, fluid dynamics software that's widely used in industry, and use it to conduct airflow simulations.

Using the wind tunnel, students measure lift, drag and pitching moment with a wind tunnel balance; and measure pressure distribution over the wings with a differential manometer connected to pressure taps on each wing. They relate their numerical and experimental results to the theoretical results they developed in the course's prerequisite, EMA 521 (Aerodynamics).

In addition to its instructional role, Bonazza also hopes to develop a research role for the wind tunnel. "I'd be delighted to have any colleague from any other department join us in the use of the facility if they have ideas and funding," he says.


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