Undergraduates at our School are invited to participate in experiments in 4 ways:

The Core Junior-level course: AE 3010

Schlieren Image of shocks and expansion waves around a wedge in the Mach 2 tunnel. From AE3010.

AE 3010 is a laboratory course where students run 8 different experiments, working in teams of 3, and writing independent technical reports. The experiments introduce measurement techniques, and reinforce classroom learning about fluid mechanics and aerodynamics. Measurements are made of: aerodynamic forces in a wind tunnel, pressure distributions, turbulent velocity fluctuations using hot-film anemometry, laser Doppler velocimetry in a jet, pressure traces in a shock tube, flame radiation, acoustics and temperature in a pulsating combustor, vortex images of flow over a double-delta wing-body at high angle of attack, the pressure distribution in a supersonic convergent-divergent nozzle, and wave geometry of the flow around a sharp wedge in a supersonic wind tunnel.

Senior and Graduate Elective Courses, AE4010 and Flow Control Electives

Frame from a motion sequence on the wake of a cylinder, used to measure instantaneous velocity using Spatial Correlation Velocimetry. From AE4010

Laser sheet image of the wake of an airfoil undergoing pitch oscillations, used in Image-Based Assignments in AE3003.

See Flow Imaging and Control Laboratory for a list of the publications resulting from these courses. Beginning with a proposal to the National Science Foundation in 1990, Prof. Komerath and a team of undergraduates developed a unique set of courses, where we stay at the leading edge of technology by constantly updating the material in the courses. Students learn by "on-the-job" iteration, searching the literature, setting up laboratory experiments and image-based assignments, then making them work, and then document their experience in computer-based manuals which serve as the baseline for the next year's students to advance further. By this approach, we have been able to circumvent (or run over) many of the traditional obstacles which make it difficult to develop hands-on, state-of-the-art courses in engineering schools. The results are making a difference not only to our graduates and research programs, but also to the basic core courses. The pictures above glimpse some of the new kinds of assignments which our AE students do: problems are based on dynamic image sequences captured from real flows, and are solved by image analysis, coupled with the theory learned in class.

Special Problems

Laser sheet image of the burst vortex flow at the trailing edge of a double-delta wing-body model of a supersonic transport at 25 degrees angle of attack. From the Special Problem work of Jason Lenakos, 1991. Jason did his work at the John J. Harper wind tunnel under a research project from NASA Langley Research Center. This is a frame from a video sequence taken as the model was moved through the sheet. The sequence is used in image analysis and vortex tracking experiments in AE3010. See "Stagnation Point Actuator" under "Projects": the idea for that project grew out of the difficulties we encountered and the solution we devised to obtain this symmetric flowfield. Before that, the flow looked as shown below:

Joining Research Teams

With the basic experience of the "required" curriculum, and our constantly-updated, state-of-the-art Electives, undergraduates have plenty of opportunity to learn what is needed to become valued members of our research teams. Since 1985, over 50 undergraduates have gained hands-on experience of working with our research team, through some combination of Special Problems or part-time work. Many of our PhD and M.S. alumni started working with us when they were undergrads.