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Bridge Aerodynamics Project Ideas

  1. Jan 18, 2010 #1
    I am in sort of a critical bind:
    I've been working for several months on an ISEF entry as part of a class (actually, working on the project IS the class), and in the past week it has completely fallen apart -- I won't go into details, but there is absolutely nowhere I can take the project. However; I can't drop the class. Whether or not the project actually does well in ISEF, I still need to have an entry in order to pass the class.

    SO. I have found a new general area, Bridge Aerodynamics, in which I want to start a new project, but here's the catch: I need to have experimentation up and running in about two weeks, or less. I have access to an extremely well-equipped wind tunnel at the University of Kentucky (they have already agreed to let me use it) and a LOT of spare time, but I am still wracking my brains trying to come up with the actual project.

    Can anyone recommend to me some way to narrow in on a project? Or some previously performed experiment that I could use as a springboard, possibly modifying or improving on old research? I am willing to put in a serious amount of work on this, I don't want bare minimum here and I'd really like to make it impressive, but I hope it could remain within some reasonable parameter of difficulty (high school senior).
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 18, 2010 #2
    Two weeks?
    You should have stayed on top of your project tasks. How are you going to test your model to make sure it doesn't break apart in the wind tunnel and damage the test facility? How have you scaled your model for Re number? Man - oh-man, if this were the real world you'd be so fired. Seriously, learn from this experience because outside of school that would be very, very bad.

    What does your test matrix look like?

    What is the aim of your results to prove?

    Jeez......ahaaha. You really screwed the pooch. You have not even done background research. :frown:

    You typically meet with the wind tunnel personnel two weeks before testing begins to go over final checks.
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2010
  4. Jan 18, 2010 #3
    Well that really depends on the level (complexity) required from the project. There must be a broad aim.
  5. Jan 18, 2010 #4
    I'm unsure how long this would take you to do in a lab, but it might be something to check out.

    Instead of bridge aerodynamics, get some experimental data on bridges completely submerged with water flowing past (like when you get flooding over a bridge). In a search of papers in this area, it looks like there is next to no experimental data to be used to validate any computer simulations that are being done.

    I've got a friend that is a Civil Engineer that deals with this issue as he works in Darwin, Australia which has a wet /monsoon season so some of the bridges he designs have to deal with this, but it sounds like there is little in the literature to help him.

    I can get you in touch with my friend to give you some tips/starting points if you like.
  6. Jan 18, 2010 #5
    As I see it, I have a really decent amount of time: I've got about seven spare hours every day after school (not even counting weekends), all of which I'm willing to devote to this, and I don't need to be DONE in two weeks, I just need to start EXPERIMENTING and running wind tunnel tests in two weeks. I focus easily, so I'm fully prepared to devote myself to this.

    As far as complexity goes, I'm looking for like an 8 (on a 1-10 scale).

    I have a LOT of resources (building supplies, cash, macgyver-like ingenuity) and a lot of free time (senior year, already admitted to my universities so I don't need to bother with extracurriculars any more, and the friends have agreed to give me a while off so I can do this project). Plus, I have an entire class period every day to work and research, and the school is willing to write off nominal project expenses (if they can keep the materials once I'm finished).

    Anybody? Any interesting wind/bridge-based phenomena that I could center a project around?

    Last year, a student taking the same class I'm in this year had a project based on laser-based vortex detection, and I could certainly incorporate that. Not sure of the specifics of his project, but I could have them up here tomorrow after school.
  7. Jan 18, 2010 #6
    No, you don't see my edit.

    How big is this wind tunnel?

    If you get anything above an C on this project, consider yourself lucky. Honestly, my jaw hit the floor reading this thread. How much time were you given to work on this?
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2010
  8. Jan 18, 2010 #7
    Wow, that is actually a really awesome idea, I might like to run with that. In fact, the university I'm accessing DOES have a liquid wind tunnel (not exactly sure of the nomenclature).

    Before I get too wrapped up in it though (which is what went wrong in my last project) can you think of any interesting phenomena he has to deal with?
  9. Jan 18, 2010 #8
    <face palm>
  10. Jan 18, 2010 #9
    No, I understand that I absolutely screwed the pooch. I did some pretty unspeakable things to the pooch, and you can bet your life savings that I've learned from this...

    The wind tunnel is about six feet square
  11. Jan 18, 2010 #10
    Keep in mind just because its a 'wind tunnel' does not mean it can measure anything you throw inside of it. You need to have an estimate of what forces you expect to generate, and if the tunnel balance can detect it accurately or not, or if its too large for the tunnel to handle.

    Also, what kind of wall interaction effects do you expect? I.e what is the model span to tunnel span ratio.

    How are you going to connect your model to the balance?

    You need to meet with the tunnel engineers tomorrow and find out exactly what needs to be done.
  12. Jan 18, 2010 #11
    That's too embarrassing to answer. Seriously. I would be out on the street if this were the real world.

    It's not that I was screwing around, the project I was working on (spin-casting parabolic mirrors) was pretty decent, but I kept hitting dead end after dead end and eventually I realized the entire thing had turned to crap.

    I was working with my teacher the entire time, he saw how hard I was working so he said he'll be lenient on whatever I can scrape together.
  13. Jan 18, 2010 #12
    Well, deal with what you got and move forward at this point!
  14. Jan 18, 2010 #13
    I don't have a model yet, that's the point -- whether I'll be testing an entire span or a cross-section depends on the project itself, which is the entire point -- I don't HAVE a project yet. I've got university libraries, cash, time, and testing space.
  15. Jan 18, 2010 #14
    How long you got to graduate? See if you can get the professor to give you another semester to work on the project. It could turn out really well.

    The answer to your post above, of course, is make the smallest (easiest/fastest) model you can get away with!
  16. Jan 18, 2010 #15
    Not a professor, a teacher -- I'm in high school, a senior. Another semester really isn't an option ;)
  17. Jan 18, 2010 #16
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  18. Jan 18, 2010 #17
    And as such, what I would consider an 8 in difficulty, you (graduate/masters) would most likely consider a two or three -- I have pretty much no engineering backgound, apart from some regional bridge-building competitions (1st place, built in 16 hours) and AP Physics/Calculus
  19. Jan 18, 2010 #18
    Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. I thought you were a college junior or senior. In that case, don't worry. You'll be fine! :)

    Learn as much as you can when you are the WT and ask them to show you everything that goes on there.
  20. Jan 18, 2010 #19

    Anyways, I'm interested in possibly working on a project involving the Tacoma Narrows Bridge (the black-and-white video of the bridge that looks like it's made of rubber, everyone's seen it). http://www.ketchum.org/billah/Billah-Scanlan.pdf" [Broken] attributes that flutter to a specific vortex caused by the bridge's design. It's a really interesting topic that doesn't seem to go too far above my head (I understand everything apart from the actual computations), but I'm not sure how I can wrangle a project out of it.

    Again, I have no background in computational fluid mechanics, or anything of the sort, but I'm definitely going for more than a baking soda-vinegar volcano here.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  21. Jan 18, 2010 #20
    I was acutally waiting for this to come up, it was simply inevitable. Any discussion on bridged inclused a Tacoma bridge video clip.
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