Mechanical vibrations + Aerodynamics?

  • #1
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I'm now taking classes on mechanical vibrations and fluid dynamics, and those are two fields that are very interesting to me. I've always liked the subject of aerodynamics, but now I'm really liking to study mechanical vibrations, very interesting field of study.

I'm looking for some specialty where I could use them both (something to pursue in a graduate program). I know about the subject of aeroelasticity and it looks really cool. It's the mix of elasticity, aerodynamics and mechanical vibrations. My first question is: how much of aerodynamics there is in aeroelasticity? Or it's more related to the field of structures?

Second question: are there any other disciplines where I would get to study mechanical vibrations and aerodynamics together?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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In airplane design, flutter analysis is (always?) done. One of the research directions going on now is about very long, flexible wings.
 
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In airplane design, flutter analysis is (always?) done. One of the research directions going on now is about very long, flexible wings.

My professor used airplane flutter as an example in one of his last classes, and it looked like a very interesting topic. Engineers working with that are usually vibration engineers or aerodynamicists?
 
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Probably everything would be done with a team of specialists. Structural, aero, and (for flutter suppression) control laws. I don't know how many of each.
 
  • #5
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Probably everything would be done with a team of specialists. Structural, aero, and (for flutter suppression) control laws. I don't know how many of each.

I'm probably going to pursue a specialty within aerodynamics, so I wanted to know if aerodynamicists could work directly with that. Looks interesting.

One doubt I've always had: how "stuck" do you get within a field in industry? I mean, if one is a aerodynamicist working with flutter analysis, what are the chances that he will work with that forever if he ever wants to work with something else instead (maybe aeroacoustics, for instance?).
 
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An aerodynamics specialist does a lot more than flutter studies. Stability and controls, preliminary design, flight test, air data sensors, working with control law people, performance, fuel usage minimization, etc., etc., etc. There is so much to do that the real limitation is how much one person can handle.
 
  • #7
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An aerodynamics specialist does a lot more than flutter studies. Stability and controls, preliminary design, flight test, air data sensors, working with control law people, performance, fuel usage minimization, etc., etc., etc. There is so much to do that the real limitation is how much one person can handle.
Good to know! As a student, I know very little about the work environment in engineering companies. Had the idea that most engineers had a specific niche and attended only to that.

Where I study, aeroelasticity is usually taught by the solid mechanics research group, that's where I've got the ideia that this is a field more closely related to solids and vibrations than aerodynamics.
 
  • #9
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My professor used airplane flutter as an example in one of his last classes, and it looked like a very interesting topic. Engineers working with that are usually vibration engineers or aerodynamicists?

Most who work on that probably likely have experience specifically in aeroelasticity rather than a previous focus specifically just on vibrations or just on aerodynamics. I am sure there are exceptions to that rule, but that would be the most common route. The field itself is certainly related to both solids/vibrations and aerodynamics and requires knowledge of both, though it does seem to skew slightly toward solids in my admittedly limited experience with the topic.
 
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Andy SV said, "audiology." I suspect he was thinking of the coupling of mechanical vibrations in the ear (ear drum, small bones) with the acoustics of the air column impinging on the ear drum. I would broaden this idea to include all aspects of acoustics, both in air and in the water.

Many years ago, I worked in underwater sound for the US Navy. It was pretty interesting work, and the usual working assumption was that the water was incompressible. If you get into sound in air, the compressibility is certainly relevant which makes for a more difficult problem. This is a lot of room for work in acoustics, both underwater sound, architectural acoustics, automobile and aircraft acoustics, etc.
 
  • #11
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Many years ago, I worked in underwater sound for the US Navy. It was pretty interesting work, and the usual working assumption was that the water was incompressible. If you get into sound in air, the compressibility is certainly relevant which makes for a more difficult problem. This is a lot of room for work in acoustics, both underwater sound, architectural acoustics, automobile and aircraft acoustics, etc.

There had to be some breaking of that assumption. Otherwise, assuming a substance to be incompressible means the speed of sound is infinite. Compressibility is always important in acoustics on at least some level.
 
  • #12
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There had to be some breaking of that assumption. Otherwise, assuming a substance to be incompressible means the speed of sound is infinite. Compressibility is always important in acoustics on at least some level.
Yes, that is correct. It has been a very long time since 1965, and I must have forgotten that particular point.
 
  • #13
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Andy SV said, "audiology." I suspect he was thinking of the coupling of mechanical vibrations in the ear (ear drum, small bones) with the acoustics of the air column impinging on the ear drum. I would broaden this idea to include all aspects of acoustics, both in air and in the water.

Many years ago, I worked in underwater sound for the US Navy. It was pretty interesting work, and the usual working assumption was that the water was incompressible. If you get into sound in air, the compressibility is certainly relevant which makes for a more difficult problem. This is a lot of room for work in acoustics, both underwater sound, architectural acoustics, automobile and aircraft acoustics, etc.

Aeroacoustics looks like a very interesting topic. I've thought about that, too.

For a MS, I can choose between solid mechanics and aerodynamics and energy. Aeroelasticity looks like a very interesting path to follow, but I don't want to get stuck in the solids side if I ever decide to switch to something like pure aerodynamics or aeroacoustics, as mentioned. Any tips on how to choose between those?
 
  • #14
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Do you have a well educated quarter?

I've never heard of a school with such a narrow range of graduate options. I could imagine that these two might be the preferred research interests of the faculty, but if I were on such a faculty and a student approached with other interests, I would certainly consider working with that student.
 
  • #15
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I must have expressed myself poorly. Those are not the only graduate options, but the ones that I find relevant for what I want to specialize in, and those are the
Aerodynamics, Propulsion and Energy group and the Solid Mechanics and Structures group. There are groups in materials engineering, mechatronics, etc... But I'm not very interested in those.
 

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