Inprovement of Force Measurement Laboratory
Christina Bloebaum Principal Investigator
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The Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering is improving an undergraduate education and research laboratory for force balance measurements. The multiphase development effort involves the manufacture of a new test section for the low-speed wind tunnel to permit force balance testing of true three-dimensional models in the tunnel; the purchase of a six-component (degree-of-freedom) sting balance with data acquisition and visualization system; and the incorporation of force balance-based experimental and virtual laboratories in key undergraduate courses and student projects to enhance students' preparation to enter the workforce. The project initially targets first-year through fourth-year undergraduate students within the mechanical engineering and aerospace engineering programs and expands to include high school students. The establishment of an undergraduate research program involving an exciting project to test the forces and torques associated with flow around a football the results of which provide substantial insights to aerodynamic flow about rotating bodies that transfer to numerous fields within engineering represents a truly unique laboratory problem. There are significant pedagogical aspects of the project that make it uniquely suited for transference to other universities. The football is an exciting application that motivates students to learn, question, and reason. It is used to demonstrate basic aerodynamic concepts and introduce new ones in a way never before presented. Dissemination can occur through direct mailings to undergraduate program committee chairs of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Departments to inform them of a web page address describing the project(s) and most recent developments, a journal article about the undergraduate Football Flight research project in the ASEE Journal of Engineering Education, and a more technical paper in the AIAA Journal.