AE Unit 1: Aerodynamics

Introduction to aerodynamic forces and how planes fly

AERODYNAMICS OVERVIEW

This unit will start with some of the principles and mathematics behind flight and aerodynamics. You’ll get a chance to learn about how things fly, how people control flight, and the mathematics it takes to calculate aerodynamics. Over the course of the unit, you’re expected to learn the following

  • What physical properties make flight possible and how do planes control that flight
  • What mathematics can describe factors of flight like lift and drag
  • How to simulate aerodynamics in a computer
  • How to build and test airfoils using a wind tunnel

Your work in Aerospace Engineering this unit will set the foundation for much more complex tasks later on. You’ll need to use a lot of trial and error as you test your prototypes and get things working. As you start our class, you’ll go through three major steps:

  • STEP 1: Learn the basic vocabulary and principles that make flight possible, as well as what mechanisms have been designed to control it
  • STEP 2: Use math and physics to calculate the forces involved in flight
  • STEP 3: Design and create your own airfoils and test their properties in the wind tunnel

When you’re done, you’ll have covered the basics of flight and have the knowledge to tackle more complicated problems in aerospace engineering!

PART 1: BASICS OF AERODYNAMICS

(10 pts) About 3 days

Our study of aerospace engineering starts with the fundamentals.  We’ll start with a discussion of aerodynamic forces and control surfaces that let airplanes fly.  We’ll also see if you can design a plane to accomplish a difficult round of challenges!

PART 2: PHYSICS OF AERODYNAMICS

(20 pts)  About 2 days

Good engineers need to understand the math and science behind the engineering principles they work with.  As such, this second part to the unit is all about math and the calculations that go into working with lift, drag, and making things fly.

PART 3: AIRFOIL CONSTRUCTION

(40 pts) About 4 days

Finally, you’ll get to design your own airfoil and test its effectiveness in our wind tunnel.  We’ll start with a computer simulation to design our airfoils, then build them out of foam and see how they perform in the wind tunnel.

Part 1: Basics of Aerodynamics

Vocabulary and principles surrounding controlled fight

Forces & Surfaces

The beginning of our course must start with a discussion of the four forces of flight: lift, drag, weight, and thrust.  We then need to develop that conversation into one of control surfaces, which are the various flaps and adjustments on a plane that help it control its flight.  Once you’ve taken some good notes on these topics it’s time to put them into action!

The Engineering Design Process is all about brainstorming and trial-and-error.  You’ll combine this process with the concepts of flight discussed already to put together a paper airplane that can complete a 4-part challenge.  You’ll need to eventually have a single paper airplane that can complete a long flight, then a right angle turn, then a roller coaster dip, and finally another long flight all without being destroyed.  You’ll need a good understanding of control surfaces to make this happen!

GRADING & PROCESS

Take 2 pages of detailed notes on the forces of flight and on control surfaces

Try different paper airplane types until you get one that can accomplish the 4-Part Paper Airplane Design Challenge

 Have Mr. Benshoof confirm (visually) your completed 4-Part Challenge

Forces of Flight

Control Surfaces

Paper Airplane Design Challenge

Folding “The Moth”

What’s Due In Part 1: Basics of Aerodynamics

  • Detailed Notes
  • 4-Part Challenge
  • Mr. Benshoof’s Confirmation

Here’s what’s due in Part 1: Basics of Aerodynamics

  1.  Two pages of good notes on forces and control surfaces
  2. Complete the 4-Part Paper Airplane Design Challenge
  3. Have Mr. Benshoof confirm your completed 4-Part Challenge

Part 2: Physics of Aerodynamics

The mathematics & physics behind the forces of flight

Aerospace Mathematics Overview

Aerospace Formula Sheet

 Calculations Assignment

Engineering is often defined as “using math and science to improve the world around us”.  The development of flight and airplanes is a great example of this, as a detailed understanding of mathematics and physics helped make the whole thing possible.  Here, you’ll get to tackle some of the math and physics that describes flight for yourself!

First, you’ll take some careful notes on atmospheric pressure and on aerodynamic forces.  Those notes will help guide you through the use of some very specific formulas as you complete some practice calculations about flight mechanics.

GRADING & PROCESS

 Take careful notes on atmospheric pressure and aerodynamic forces from the videos

 Work through the calculations assignment.  You should work mostly by yourself, but can ask your classmates or Mr. Benshoof for clarifying help.  Do your work in your engineering notebook!

 Have Mr. Benshoof check-off your calculations in your engineering notebook.

Atmospherics

 

Aerodynamic Forces

Calculation Help

 Calculations Assignment

What’s Due In Part 2: Physics of Aerodynamics

  • Aerodynamics Notes
  • Aerodynamic Calculations
  • Mr. Benshoof’s check-off

Here’s what’s due in Part 2: Physics of Aerodynamics

  1.  Take careful notes on both Atmospherics & Aerodynamic Forces!
  2. Work through the Aerodynamic Calculations assignment, showing all your work in your engineering notebook
  3. Have Mr. Benshoof check-off your assignment and review the answer key

Part 3: Airfoil Construction

Simulate, design, build, and test an airfoil

Airfoil Overview

Class FoilSim Spreadsheet

Engineers that work in aerospace have to deal with some complex systems and calculations.  In order to make that possible, many aerospace problems will eventually lead to a computer simulation.  Here, we’ll use a computer simulation to start our work with airfoils. You’ll begin in a simulation called FoilSim which was developed by NASA.  This simulation will help us design and compare different airfoil shapes.

Then, you’ll decide which airfoil(s) you think will work best.  You’ll create a template and cut the airfoil out of foam using the hotwire.  These airfoils model cross sections of a wing and we can use our wind tunnel to measure some properties about them.  Collect the necessary data and add your results to the shared AE Spreadsheet.

Finally, you’ll look through the results from everyone’s tests and draw some conclusions about airfoil designs.  These will be particularly useful in the next unit when we need to build the most effective glider.

GRADING & PROCESS

 Take some detailed notes on airfoils and FoilSim

 Use FoilSim to investigate the main shapes of airfoils and complete the “Airfoils” assignment

 Design and create your airfoil(s)

 Test your airfoils in our wind tunnel: the TurBlow1000

 Add your test results to the shared AE Spreadsheet

 Have Mr. Benshoof confirm your airfoil tests

NASA’s FoilSim III

Shared FoilSim Spreadsheet

Building an Airfoil

What’s Due In Part 3: Airfoil Construction

  • FoilSim Notes
  • Airfoils Assignment
  • Design, Create, Test
  • Share Results
  • Mr. Benshoof’s Confirmation

Here’s what’s due in Part 3: Airfoil Construction

  1. Take detailed notes on airfoils & FoilSim
  2. Use FoilSim to complete the “Airfoils” assignment
  3.  Design, Create, and Test your airfoils on the TurBlow1000
  4.  Add your test results to the shared AE Spreadsheet
  5. Have Mr. Benshoof confirm your completed airfoil data

Double Check: Unit Expectations

Check what you need to have completed by the unit deadline

The purpose of this unit is to introduce the ideas that help describe the mechanics of flight.

Engineering Notebook:

(Part 1) You should have taken careful notes on Forces of Flight & Control Surfaces (2 pages)

(Part 2) You should have taken careful notes on Atmospheric Pressure & Aerodynamic Forces (2 pages)

(Part 3) You should have taken careful notes from FoilSim and airfoil designs

Building & Making:

(Part 1) You should have built a paper airplane that can complete the 4-Part Design Challenge

(Part 2) You should have completed the “Aerodynamic Calculations” assignment, showing all your work in your engineering notebook

 (Part 3) You should have designed, created, and tested your airfoil(s) with the wind tunnel and shared your data

Checkpoints & Quizzes:

(Part 1) Mr. Benshoof should have seen your paper airplane accomplish all four design challenges in order (video is fine)

(Part 2) Mr. Benshoof should have checked-off your calculations assignment

(Part 3) Mr. Benshoof should have confirmed your airfoil and test