Wind tunnel lab remains student favorite at LeTourneau University

LETU Velocity Experiment

LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - Wind plus speed divided by fun and excitement squared equals a student favorite at LeTourneau University.

On Friday, engineering students were back in the wind tunnel lab where they turned what they’re learning in class into actual data.

Andrew Davis is a lecturer of mechanical engineering at LETU. He calls the wind tunnel a student favorite. They use it to quantify the drag that happens on various objects.

“We have some normal objects like a cup, a cone, a ball that is the objects that we can find in the textbook so we have really good, accepted values for those, and we can benchmark to those," Davis said.

But he said they don’t just stick to the textbook. They also test fun objects like soccer balls and footballs. This time it was a lacrosse ball.

“I have the students test with their chosen fun object, and then they go outside and throw it and they can actually model the trajectory with the drag coefficients that they recently found that are not as available in the literature,” Davis said.

The wind tunnel is a great way for students to demonstrate what they’ve learned instead of just learning about it theoretically.

“Each student gets an opportunity to — I call it drive the wind tunnel — basically choosing the fan speeds that it’s operating at, putting things in and out of the wind tunnel. It helps to solidify a lot of what they’re learning, and it is also much more engaging in the process,” Davis said.

That hands-on learning is what senior engineering student Phillip Lively said he enjoys.

“We have quite a blessing to be able to come and apply what we learn in the classroom to this wind tunnel to learn how to measure drag coefficients and in the case of the air foils behind me you can measure lift and drag much like an airplane,” he said.

A perfect match for Lively who plans to pursue a career in the aviation industry.

Junior Caleb LaQuey is majoring in mechanical engineering called the lab “a blast.”

“It’s really cool to be able to see stuff that we were learning in class like literally the week beforehand, and then to take that and see oh this is what an actual manometer looks like," LaQuey said. “It demystifies a lot of the things that you see in class. You see something in class and you go ‘oh I don’t know exactly what this would look like’, but you come in here and you start to work on stuff and then you know ‘oh this is how I take this raw data and turn that into some meaningful information,’” LaQuey said.

Junior mechanical engineering major Robert Mason has participated in the wind tunnel lab about five times. He’s pursuing a career in the oil and gas industry.

“A lot of that is fluid mechanics, fluid motion, and so in the wind tunnel — obviously it’s a gas running through — but that’s still fluid motion. it kind of gives us a frame of reference as we’re running fluid through a pipe you know what pressure it’s running at. It kind of gives us a frame of reference OK well we got this much heat in there so we need to accommodate and however which way know how the fluid is going to react as its flowing through the pipe through different climates,” Mason said.

The added elements of fun, excitement and anticipation help solidify the wind tunnel as a student favorite.

“It’s really loud, and it’ll start kind of shaking the doors when we turn it on and it’s kind of exciting to start it up and start turning the wind velocity up the frequency of the fan. For me it’s just the loud noises, the fact that we get to actually use it," Mason said. “Professor Davis, when we’re running the lab, he doesn’t really touch anything. He just stands back, and we do every thing. That’s something you’re not going to find any other place, and it’s just a great experience.”

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