Former Lethbridge College team’s wind tunnel project whips up provincial STEM honour
25, Sep, 2023
EDMONTON, Sept. 25, 2023 – Is a computer software program as effective as a wind tunnel when testing air flow around an object? That was the question asked by a former team of Lethbridge College engineering design and drafting technology (EDDT) students that was recently recognized as a finalist for the Capstone Project of the Year Award, a provincial honour given out annually by the Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta (ASET).
For their Capstone Project, former teammates Willy Peters, Peter Harris, Nicolas Groenheide, and Julian Krizan compared testing air flow in an actual wind tunnel to employing a digital means, namely computational fluid dynamics (CFD). CFD software creates virtual simulations to predict how liquids and gases will perform. In the case of this project, the former team used air flow instead of fluids, but applied the same principles.
To accomplish this task, the former team members constructed a wind tunnel for the physical testing part of the project. They placed an object inside it and gathered information about how air flow behaved around the object. They also recorded and assessed how the profile of the object affected wind speed.
Then, they moved on to the CFD part of the testing, recreating the dimensions of the wind tunnel with CFD software so that virtual simulations could be run. When analyzing the results, they discovered that the visuals of the wind tunnel and CFD simulation were similar, but the CFD simulation was able to clearly represent the specific behaviour of how air travelled in certain areas of the wind tunnel. Ultimately, they concluded that CFD software can accurately produce a virtual model of the wind tunnel.
“In addition to learning that we could successfully recreate a wind tunnel with CFD software, we found that the software was able to compensate for variables that could not be measured during physical tests, such as pressure,” said Peters.
“This Capstone Project represents the kind of out of the box thinking that characterizes the engineering technology profession, and in this case it’s literal,” said ASET CEO Barry Cavanaugh.
The former Lethbridge College team’s project is one of nine finalists for the 2023 ASET Capstone Project of the Year Award. The winning project will be announced at the end of October.
The Capstone Project of the Year Award was established by ASET in 2017 in response to overwhelming member interest in stories about Capstone Projects undertaken by teams of engineering technology students from NAIT, SAIT, Red Deer Polytechnic, and Lethbridge College as part of their end-of-program requirements.
ASET is the professional self-regulatory organization for engineering technologists and technicians in Alberta. ASET currently represents over 17,000 members, including full-time technology students, recent graduates and fully certified members in 21 disciplines and more than 120 occupations across a multitude of industries.
Michele Penz, Calico Communications for ASET