Design, fabrication and testing of a low-speed wind tunnel laboratory

John Rajadas, Bradley Rogers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Engineering Technology programs focus on delivering a hands-on engineering education. The students get introduced to the theoretical development of engineering concepts first, then they apply the concepts to solve practical problems and test the concepts in carefully designed experiments carried out in appropriate facilities. One of the key areas of instruction associated with a mechanical engineering technology program is thermofluids where thermodynamic and fluid dynamic concepts are addressed. The engineering areas that these concepts belong to are empirically based disciplines requiring a strong experimental component for the development of the concepts. Wind tunnels have always played a major role in the advancements made in these disciplines 1. Thus a wind tunnel facility is an opportune tool for instruction in this key area of engineering. In the Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering Technology (MMET) department at Arizona State University at the Polytechnic campus (ASU Polytechnic), a course entitled Applied Aerodynamics and Wind Tunnel Testing (AET420) is dedicated to addressing this area. The student is introduced to the basic concepts of how wind tunnels operate, the tunnel design process, and the associated measurement systems2,3. Then the student designs and carries out a set of experiments that reinforce these concepts. A key requirement for this process to be successful is the availability of a wind tunnel facility that is capable of addressing the engineering tasks developed in the classroom. Making use of their applied engineering background, the MMET students designed, analyzed and built an instructional scale wind tunnel. The funding support for the tunnel fabrication was obtained from external sources with the provision that the tunnel would be used to address a specific problem faced by the industrial entity providing the funds. For example, the completed tunnel, with a maximum speed of 50 mph, was first used for testing an aerodynamic problem faced by the trash collection industry (material flying off the hoppers of collection trucks as they went from street to street) in an effort to provide solutions for improving the design of the vehicles. This, in turn, helped the students gain experience in solving problems of interest to industry. The wind tunnel design and fabrication process required the coupling of key disciplines in engineering technology, including the aeronautical, mechanical and manufacturing engineering technologies which form the focus areas of MMET dept. The completed tunnel is now part of the MMET department's resources and plays a critical role in the curriculum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)


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