Major Projects

Here you'll find a listing of some of our major engineering research projects. They can be broadly grouped into the key areas in which FLIP concentrated its efforts:

- high speed flows / shock wave interactions
- road vehicle aerodynamics (including real-world testing)
- fluid dynamics of flying/swimming animals
- support of development projects that are associated with the Prototype Vehicles Lab

We didn't forget about our many successful past projects either, just scroll down to read more.

If you're only looking for a big long list of research publications, we've got you covered.

Fly / Swim


Primary Investigators: Doig, Guerra

Inspired by study of Casey the Leopard Seal at Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia, this work has developed into an innovative investigation into the unique, high-efficiency swimming techniques of seals which give them great thrust-to-weight and maneuverability. An experimental rig developed at Cal Poly is leading into fluid-structure interaction CFD (...more)


Primary Investigators: Doig, Rolph, Diamantopoulos

This research involves the first high-fidelity aerodynamic study of the wing tip feathers of condors and pelicans, taking 3d-scanned geometries and turning them into wind tunnel models and CFD models. The research is uncovering new findings in both biological and engineering realms, helping us better understand the aerodynamic performance of nature's most efficient gliders (...more)

Vehicle and aircraft aerodynamics

Design and Development of an ultra-long-range electric car

FLIP is helping Cal Poly's PROVE Lab with the start-to-finish aerodynamic design and development of a long range electric supercar for a world record attempt in 2020.

Doig, Nguyen, Lukacovic

Machine learning for predictive/adaptive flow control for automotive applications

Doig, Stalters, Baratta

More information coming soon.

Project Mobius: a solar-powered aircraft

Doig, Chung, Vankeppel, Wong, Kehney, Bughman, Luce.

A skunkworks-within-a-skunkworks, Mobius is an undergraduate team of aero ninjas building an ultra-long-endurance solar-powered aircraft.

Shock Wave Interactions


Primary Investigators: Doig

This project involves understanding blast wave effects on flames and large scale fires. Using a combination of experiments involving explosives and CFD simulations, a multitude of previously-unseen phenomena are being discovered. (...more)


Primary Investigator: Schomberg (with Doig, Neely, Olsen)

Nozzles for large rockets have changed relatively little in decades, with incremental improvements the name of the game. While a nozzle can be optimized for one particular point, atmospheric conditions change with altitude, and a passively-adapting nozzle could offer significant performance gains. (...more)

Past projects (pre-2018)

Aerodynamics of cornering vehicles (2012-2016)

A comprehensive investigation into the aerodynamics of cornering bluff bod vehicles, incorporating a world-first rotating wind tunnel to recreate true cornering conditions. Large eddy simulation on automotive bodies uncovered a wealth of new information about aerodynamic noise and drag.

(with J. Keogh, S. Diasinos, T.J. Barber)

Key publication: The aerodynamic effects on a cornering Ahmed body

Vortex Interactions (2014-2017)

Vortex generators are used in the automotive and aviation industries to achieve flow control - this research makes use of LES and PIV to uncover new fluid dynamic effects when multiple vortices interact in different scenarios - counter and co-rotating vane-generated vortices at different offsets and orientations.

(with K. Forster, S. Diasinos, T.J. Barber)

Key publication: Interactions of a Co-Rotating Vortex Pair at Multiple Offsets
Physics of Fluids, Vol. 29 (5) : 01

Prototype Vehicles Lab (PROVE Lab) land speed record solar car design (2016-2017)

FLIP was the lead partner with Cal Poly's PROVE Lab for the aerodynamic design and development of a solar-powered vehicle to break a land speed record. The team is due to make their record attempt in June 2018 - CFD and wind tunnel testing was undertaken by a team of undergraduates in summer and fall 2016.

For more, check out wind tunnel and CFD videos on YouTube.

Wheel Simulation and Testing (2008-2015)

Considerable time and effort is expended in correctly predicting wheel aerodynamics - this integrated CFD and wind tunnel investigation aimed to better capture wheel aerodynamic transience, in collaboration with Tesla, and to assess the affects of simplification to wheel geometries in CFD.

(with S. Diasinos, T.J. Barber, R. Palin)

Key publication: The effects of simplifications on isolated wheel aerodynamics

Revitalizing the Cal Poly Low Speed Wind Tunnel (2014-2017)

Cal Poly's low speed tunnel is being brought into the 21st century, and then some. A major refurbishment included incorporating a rolling road for vehicle testing, an entirely new test section, and non-intrusive measurement devices such as IR and PIV. The wind tunnel is now in good shape for commercial testing. Find out more about the facility at if you are interested in testing using the wind tunnel.

Transonic and Supersonic Ground Effect Aerodynamics (2005-2014)

A wide-ranging investigation into things that go very fast, next to the ground. Both transonic and supersonic scenarios were investigated using newly-developed wind tunnel techniques and CFD, resulting in a large number of new published findings relevant to future high speed trains, military applications, and more.

Key publication: Transonic and Supersonic Ground Effect Aerodynamics

Compressibility Effects for Racing Cars (2007-2012)

Even though F1 car top speed is less than Mach 0.3, local flow around the wings and other components can accelerate to high subsonic Mach numbers, altering the performance that would be predicted by incompressible simulations.

(with J. Keogh, S. Diasinos)

Key publication: Flow Compressibility around an Open Wheel Racing Car

Wing/wheel Interactions on Racing Cars (2005-2015)

Primary Investigators: Diasinos, Doig

A series of parametric, numerical and experimental investigations into the aerodynamic effects of Formula One-style front wing and wheel aerodynamics. The first publicly-available comprehensive investigation into wing/wheel interactions.

(with S. Diasinos, T.J. Barber)

Key publication: On the Interaction of a Racing Car Front Wing and Exposed Wheel

Sunswift eVe solar car (2012 - 2014)

Several FLIP students were instrumental in the aerodynamic design and development, as well as overall project management, of the world-record-breaking Sunswift eVe solar car. eVe won class line honors in a dramatic finish and is the world's fastest electric vehicle over 500km.
(with S. Paterson, S. Ambrose)

Key publication: Design and development of the Sunswift eVe solar vehicle: world's fastest long-range electric car

Sustainable buildings (2011-2013)

A range of collaborations with AECOM Pty Ltd which had undergrads working on projects involving thermal labyrinths, beetle-inspired water recovery from cooling towers, and modelling of skyscraper window frames to capture thermal properties correctly.

(with T. Zhao, C. Rohwer, R. Lee)

Insect aerodynamics (2012-2014)

Use of micro-CT to characterize the detailed surfaces of fruitfly and dragonfly wings to allow CFD-based investigation of the aerodynamics. The corrugations and complexities of the surface produce a myriad of aerodynamic effects not captured with simplified wings.
(with J. Brandt, N. Tsafnat)

Key publication: Computational aerodynamic analysis of a Micro-CT based bio-realistic fruit fly wing

F3 and Radical SR8 aerodynamics (2011-2014)

Variety of research involving racing car development, particularly in the area of wind tunnel/CFD/track data correlation for F3 and Radical SR8s. Several projects were run in partnership with Carlin Motorsports in the UK, including slipstreaming and diffuser design.

(with D. Kirkby, S. Diasinos, M. Cruickshank)

Key publication: Application of kriging to motorsport aerodynamic analysis

Thermal comfort for zoo enclosures (2012-2014)

Use of phase change materials and low-energy strategies to reduce long-term power consumption in zoos with animals requiring extensive thermal regulation - these projects were run in collaboration with Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia.

(with N. Tsafnat)

Transonic store release (2012 - 2014)

A collaboration with the US Naval Academy, using transonic wind tunnel testing and CFD to identify problems with - and to redesign - a model support sting for cavity release problems.
(with M. Snyder, G. Bogdan)

Key publication: Reducing transonic wind tunnel sting interference effects for concealed store release testing

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