PROVE Lab’s solar car hits the headlines

Cal Poly PROVE Lab’s launch of their project to break the land speed record for the fastest solar-powered solar car  was featured in several outlets over the last week, here’s a partial summary! FLIP is a sponsor and testing/R&D partner for PROVE Lab.

SLO Tribune:…/educat…/article111382222.html

New York Times:…/…/us/california-today-housing.html……/Can-This-Student-Built-Car-Bre……



NPR 89.3 KPCC:…/cal-poly-students-develop-plan-for-…/…

Mustang News:

Jennings Aeronautics Wind Tunnel Test

SLO-based unmanned aerial systems company Jennings Aeronautics were testing in the Low Speed Wind Tunnel this week, with veteran student test engineer Matt Paul (Aero) and junior lab manager Noah Sadler (ME) running the show with summer lab assistant Garrett Klunk (Aero). Shota Watanabe (Aero) was the day’s point-man for rapid prop blade changes. It’s the first time Jennings has tested in the newest iteration of the facility, which includes a brand new test section.

There’s been increasing interest from companies looking to take advantage of the improvements in test capabilities. Lab director Dr. Graham Doig said “We’re not trying to compete with big facilities, we’re more like a development-scale tunnel with a mission to train students as well as do aerodynamic R&D. It’s win win - our students get some great “earn by doing” experience in a professional test environment right here on campus, and companies get to take advantage of our resources without breaking the bank”.

It’s the second time propeller and motor performance has been tested in recent months - “some of our AIAA DesignBuildFly student team were running a very similar test as part of a project they designed themselves for our experimental aerodynamics course in Spring” says Doig, “it’s really cool to see how well-prepared our students can be for industry by the time they graduate from Cal Poly”. Elias Sullwold of Jennings Aeronautics (an Aero alum himself from ‘05) said “having the students in the lab today was excellent… they have fresh ideas, it helps us as well as them to figure out how to do things better, get data quicker, and do more in a day”.

AERO568/569 over for 2016

We’re not actually going to bother checking, but we think that this is the only university course of its kind in the world - a 2-quarter integrated CFD and wind tunnel “Aerodynamic Research and Development” program that seniors and grads can take, tackling original team projects that aim to investigate relevant problems. It was certainly a long hard road to get the models made, and a lot of lessons were learned along the way, but some amazing things were achieved! Car wheels, joined wings, solar cars, bird wing tip feathers, and rockets were in the tunnel this quarter. Well done teams, you were pioneers!

Aiming high for summer

After they wrap up spring classes with Dr Graham Doig (far left), student wind tunnel
engineers (left to right) Tyler Miles, Riess Haslam, and Brandon Baldovin are heading to the promised land of aerodynamic research and development, NASA Ames Research Center, for summer internships.

NASA’s contractor, Jacobs, selected the trio from the Aerospace
Engineering Department in a new partnership designed to provide opportunities
to students coming through Cal Poly’s innovative project-based curriculum in
aerodynamics. Riess and Brandon will be working with several Cal Poly alums in
the massive transonic/supersonic Unitary Plan facility, while Tyler will be
working on a variety of projects in the Fluid Mechanics Lab under the guidance
of good friend of the aero department, Kurt Long.

Dr. Doig said “We’ve had a lot of positive feedback from NASA about the big
changes we’ve been making in our wind tunnel lab – modernizing instrumentation,
having all our students take on more responsibility for planning tests and
procedures, and running a wide variety of creative and complex test projects
like the awesome work that Cal Poly’s Prototype Vehicles Lab (PROVE Lab) is
currently doing in designing the world’s fastest solar-powered vehicle”.

Doig has been working with Brandon Baldovin on a unique project looking at bird wing tip aerodynamics, and Riess Haslam is not only leading up PROVE Lab’s aerodynamic team but has also volunteered and
worked in the wind tunnel lab for a year, helping to characterize and improve
the air flow quality. Additionally, Riess is a teaching assistant for the
junior-level “Experimental Aerodynamics” course, where he is helping Tyler to
complete tests at a standard that will prepare him for industry.

Ames  Research Center is home to the world’s largest wind tunnel, as
well as an epic array of other aerodynamic facilities where every major
American aircraft and spacecraft developed over the last 50 years will have
been tested.  There’s no shortage of Mustangs working there, and with
Brandon, Riess and Tyler now on their way, long may that continue! We’ll check
in with them after summer to hear about their adventures.

Sand Wars

Cal Poly’s new blockbuster “Aerodynamic Research and Development” course
is coming to a dramatic climax - students furiously striving to
complete wind tunnel models and finalize correlation to CFD results.
Behold, the un-glamorous dark side to wind tunnel testing… 

Andrew Furmidge wins Cal Poly Outstanding Student Employee of the Year

Mechanical Engineering junior and Lead Wind Tunnel Design Engineer Andrew Furmidge was awarded Cal Poly’s prestigious “Outstanding Student Employee of the Year” by President Armstrong, for his work on the Aerospace Engineering Department’s Low Speed Wind Tunnel since January 2015 when he was just halfway through his sophomore year. Andrew’s been an integral part of FLIP’s work on the wind tunnel refurbishment, leading the design and construction of the new test section and a huge number of components and installations - and also helping us source more mechanical engineering assistance when needed! Apart from practically living in the lab, Andrew is also aerodynamics lead for Formula SAE this year (come on Andrew, you know you want to be in PROVE Lab), and has managed to make the Dean’s list almost every quarter of his degree. 

Furmidge and Armstrong

the force balance just about complete and Formula about to wrap up for
the year, maybe he’ll actually get a full night’s sleep some time soon. 

PROVE Lab wind tunnel model makes progress

Cal Poly’s Prototype Vehicles Laboratory - PROVE Lab - is a team of 60+ students from 11 different majors, currently designing and building a solar-powered car to break an international Land Speed Record in June 2017.

When you have less than 2kW of power at hand in order to hit over 65mph, aerodynamics is king. The team has been making a lot of use of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and is about to bring a micro-cluster online to crunch the numbers even faster at Cal Poly. However, simulations don’t necessarily mean a lot until they’re validated against physical tests in a reliable facility. Therefore the team has been hard at work designing and building a wind tunnel model. With testing scheduled for late April, the design phase will then accelerate rapidly with optimization of the shape to arrive at a design-freeze by the end of spring quarter.

FLIP is acting as both a technology-incubator and testing partner for PROVE Lab (helps that they have the same benevolent overlord) - PROVE’s wind tunnel model has garnered sponsorship from ANSYS (simulation), Tencate (carbon fiber), RockWest Composites (carbon fiber), Northrop Grumman (financial support), Minova Group (foam), and AirTech (composite forming).

James Keogh submits PhD thesis

James Keogh handed in his PhD thesis on Monday at UNSW Australia in Sydney. The first FLIP graduate student to complete! I say handed in - James is currently working for Manor F1 in England and therefore didn’t get the thoroughly underwhelming experience of dropping off a document that your entire life went into for the last 3 or 4 years, and getting a UNSW paperweight for your troubles.

Hard to over-state James’ achievement - a fully formed PhD thesis featuring experimental and CFD reseach… in pretty much exactly 3 years… is pretty immense, and along the way he’s published half a dozen papers, oh and invented an entirely new type of wind tunnel.

I first met James when he was on crutches - which was often his default state - when he came to my office to talk about undergraduate senior project work to continue my own research into compressibility effects on race car aerodynamics. James’ comprehensive work was later published in the Aeronautical Journal and has since been downloaded by a slew of engineers from various F1 teams. Pretty good going for an undergrad. There’s not much doubt his PhD work will also make an impact!

Maybe we’ll see him in the US some time; the cornering wind tunnel (Keogh Tunnel?) certainly impressed the folks at NASA Ames when he unveiled it at the AIAA Scitech forum in San Diego earlier this year…. and maybe we’ll see a bigger, better version at Cal Poly some time in the near future. All the best James, in a few months I think we’ll be calling you doctor, and maybe your cars will get better at going around corners =)

Trip to NASA Ames Wind Tunnel Division

Who’s that giving an insiders’ tour at NASA Ames Research Center to 16 Cal Poly aero seniors and grads? Alums Eric Paciano (2013) and Alan L’Esperance (2014) - along with our host, Kurt Long of NASA’s Fluid Mechanics Laboratory - were on hand this Tuesday to explain how they conduct tests in one of the world’s finest - and biggest! - wind tunnels. Our students, who are enrolled in Dr. Graham Doig’s new “Aerodynamic Research and Development” class, were able to bounce their project ideas off the experts and return to Cal Poly ready to run their own tunnel tests with a new sense of professionalism. Many thanks to all at NASA Ames for a great day and those awesome demos. Cal Poly and Ames are strengthening their long-standing relationship so that more of our students have opportunities to get a working taste of real-world aerodynamic testing - Learn by Doing in aerodynamics is going from strength to strength.

Frank Kmak visits the Low Speed Wind Tunnel

Another special visitor to FLIP…and the Cal Poly Low Speed Wind Tunnel Lab last week - Frank Kmak is wind tunnel division chief at NASA Ames Research Center, and therefore by default has the biggest and coolest wind tunnel complex on the planet. Ames and Cal Poly are strengthening their long-standing relationship so that more of our students can get experience with cutting edge equipment and working experiences in aerodynamic testing. Riess Haslam, Danny Stalters, David Alexander, Matt Paul, Noah Sadler and Andrew Furmidge were on hand to meet Frank on the day.

FLIR test in the Low Speed Wind Tunnel

The Low Speed Wind Tunnel, which FLIP students have been refurbishing and upgrading for a year now, hosted FLIR Systems last week, to test their new marine night vision M-400 camera in hurricane-strength gusts. Long-time wind tunnel lab employees Andrew Furmidge and Matt Paul, with plenty of help on the day from assistants David Alexander and Danny Stalters, devised and ran the test for the client. Cal Poly’s Aerospace Engineering Department prides itself in producing day-1-ready graduates for industry - what better way to prepare for the real world than running real-world tests while still at university?

Visit from Kaveh Kabir

Long-time FLIP collaborator and materials researcher Kaveh Kabir of Macquarie University in Australia visited Poly recently, to work with Graham Doig on a couple of projects. While here, he found himself being drafted to mentor the PROVE Lab solar car structures team, and giving well-received talks to both the Cal Poly Biomimicry Club about his work on foam structures and echidna spines (above) and the Materials Engineering Student Society (MESS).

Some of the MESS students spent an hour afterwards chatting to Kaveh
about his work - we hope he can get back to California soon!

PROVE Lab design review in San Francisco

Cal Poly’s PROVE Lab (Prototype Vehicles Laboratory) traveled to San Francisco for the first review of the team’s initial designs for a car to break the international solar-powered land speed record!

Representing the 60+ students from 13 different majors that make up the full organization, Project Manager Will Sutton (BS Aero 2017), along with faculty adviser Dr. Graham Doig, led the interdisciplinary team of Mustangs in presenting their designs to experienced engineers from Tesla Motors and Google X who are mentoring the team. As well as getting valuable feedback and a vote of confidence from the pros, PROVE Lab was invited for a special tour of the Stanford Solar Car Team’s workshop and got to see their most recent solar car from the 2015 World Solar Challenge race in Australia.

So, is a 65mph car possible on about the same amount of solar energy it would take to run a hairdryer?? Cal Poly students are going to prove it in 2017!

It lives!

The Low Speed Wind Tunnel was turned on today for the first time in 7
months, the new test section is performing nicely, and with all the
upgrades we found another 5% power. Great to hear that soundtrack! Now
for the rolling road, force balance, laser measurement system, probe
traverse… still a lot of work to do. Andrew Furmidge (ME), Matt Paul
(Aero), Riess Haslam (Aero), Danny Stalters (Aero), David Alexander
(Aero), Troy Wollman (Aero), Noah Sadler (ME) and Neiman Walker (Aero)
are on the case!

New Cornering Wind Tunnel turns heads at AIAA SciTech Forum

New wind tunnels are built now and again, but very rarely is a new type of wind tunnel constructed!

Cal Poly Aerospace Engineering Professor Graham Doig is at the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) SciTech Forum in San Diego this week, introducing the recently-completed work of his former PhD student James Keogh in tackling a problem that has vexed aerodynamicists for decades - how to make a wind tunnel to produce an accurate curved flow of air over a vehicle to replicate the same conditions that a cornering car would experience in the real world.

To do so, Doig and Keogh invented a new type of wind tunnel that rotates around a vertical axis. They relied heavily on high-performance computing to simulate the aerodynamics and optimize the tunnel design before any parts were even machined or 3d printed at Keogh’s home university of UNSW Australia where the tunnel was built and tested in collaboration with Cal Poly.

In the experiment, air follows a curved path around a vehicle model and as a result the true cornering condition can be finally obtained for fresh insight into vehicle performance and dynamics. “Although the rig is a small-scale first prototype, the announcement of the new tunnel design at the AIAA SciTech forum this week has already made an impression on aerodynamicists from NASA and elsewhere” says Doig. “I showed the design to the aero team at a US car company recently and they were intrigued - it’s been a very long time since someone took a completely new approach to trying to reproduce these real world driving conditions so closely”.

So will we be seeing a new, improved mark II cornering wind tunnel at Cal Poly any time soon? While Keogh’s now busy with a new job at Manor Formula 1 team in England, Dr. Doig plans to continue working in this field as part of a new push at Cal Poly to have students tackle automotive as well as aircraft aerodynamic problems . The centerpiece of this strategy is the new rolling road wind tunnel test section currently being constructed in the Aerospace Engineering Department’s Low Speed Wind Tunnel, which is continuing to raise funds from donations as it transforms into a unique, modern facility. “Accurate validation of complex simulation results through physical testing, with an increased focus on properly reproducing proper real-world air flow conditions and turbulence - that’s what industry needs right now” claims Doig. “We see California’s rapidly-growing automotive industry in the news time and again, and Cal Poly is well on its way to having a modern range of facilities that will allow our students to get advanced, hands-on experience that they’ll need to secure jobs in the world of vehicle aerodynamic research and development”.

Read more about cornering aerodynamics here.

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