College of Engineering & U.S. Air Force Collaborate on New Wind Tunnels

College of Engineering & U.S. Air Force Collaborate on New Wind Tunnels
Congresswoman Grace Napolitano presents a $1 million check for a supersonic wind tunnel. Napolitano stands with College of Engineering Dean Edward Hohmann, Aerospace Engineering Chair Ali Ahmadi, Associate Professor Don Edberg and President Michael Ortiz.

The College of Engineering is partnering with the United States Air Force to build two wind tunnels. In about two years, the supersonic and subsonic wind tunnels, which are used to simulate airflow for aerodynamic testing, will enhance the ability of Aerospace Engineering students to conduct experiments and research in aerodynamics.

“This new equipment will better prepare our graduates to meet the technical challenges and opportunities of aerospace engineering in the 21st century,” says College of Engineering Dean Edward Hohmann.

Congresswoman Grace F. Napolitano (D-38th District, California) recently gave President Michael Ortiz a $1 million check representing a grant to fund the acquisition of a supersonic wind tunnel. The check presentation took place Jan. 25 before the senior-level Aerospace Design class in the Aerospace Engineering Supersonic Wind Tunnel Laboratory in Building 13. Napolitano, who represents the university in her congressional district, was instrumental in helping to obtain the funding.

“I'm very proud of Cal Poly Pomona because the university is providing the opportunity for young people to learn and educate themselves in areas where there will definitely be a demand for jobs,” said Napolitano.

Among those who participated in the check presentation were Hohmann and Ali Ahmadi, chair of Aerospace Engineering.

The primary purpose of this grant is to replace Cal Poly Pomona's existing supersonic wind tunnel, which has been a workhorse for the Aerospace Engineering department for the past 42 years and is now in need of major repairs. While similar in overall size (35 feet), the new wind tunnel will have an expanded test section, allowing larger models to be tested. The wind tunnel will be capable of simulating an aircraft flying up to four times the speed of sound. It will be located in the existing Supersonic Wind Tunnel Laboratory in Building 13 and will become operational in Fall 2007.

Last year, the College of Engineering received a similar grant from the Air Force for the acquisition of a subsonic wind tunnel, which will replace an aging one that had to be dismantled when the Engineering Laboratory Building 17 was constructed. The new subsonic wind tunnel, though somewhat smaller than the one it replaces (approximately 53 x22 in overall size, with a test section of 28 x 40), will include modern instruments and improved flow quality. It will simulate speeds up to 190 miles per hour. The subsonic wind tunnel will be located along the south side of Building 13 and will become operational in Fall 2006.

Both new wind tunnels will allow students to test scale models of aircraft and rockets, as well as other vehicles, moving at speeds above or below the speed of sound.

The wind tunnels are part of the Education Partnership Agreement between Cal Poly Pomona and the Air Force signed in 2004. The equipment will be on long-term loan to the university for educational and research purposes by Cal Poly Pomona students and faculty, as well as, in collaboration with the Air Force, aerospace industry and other universities of their choosing. In addition, the wind tunnels will be available for tours to K-12 students to promote interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Cal Poly Pomona has long provided well-trained aerospace engineers to meet the needs of the aerospace industry and government laboratories. Since its founding in the fall of 1957, the Aerospace Engineering department has awarded more than 1,300 bachelors and masters degrees. Demand for the Aerospace Engineering program has been on the rise, with enrollment more than doubling over the last nine years to about 400 students.

For more information, call the Aerospace Engineering department at (909) 869-2470.