Nicholas Shaw Capstone

For my Senior Capstone Project, I decided to create a wind tunnel to assist Mr. Kamal with teaching future classes about the laws of aerodynamics. A wind tunnel is something used to test model planes to see how they can fly and to test the forces on them. It creates consistency between the two campuses throughout the years, and also gives future engineering classes something different that my class never had. I chose to create this wind tunnel because it was a unique challenge. Originally, I had no idea what tools and materials I would need to use, and I didn’t know how I would the process design it. All I knew was that I have a good background in engineering, and if I worked hard enough I could succeed. I’m hoping that for future engineering classes, my project can make a small but meaningful impact on how they learn about aerodynamics.

My mentor, Mr. Kamal, helped a lot with it along with the Mr. Pilla, SLA Beeber’s engineering teacher and Mr. Kamal a colleague of Kamal’s. I also had several students help with the construction and printing aspects, including Asher, Yafang, and Boubou.

The biggest challenge of creating the process was actually brainstorming on what I wanted to do. That easily took a month of just brainstorming and meshing ideas together with Kamal. Through this process, I’ve been reminded that communication is key. Hardship arose if Mr. Kamal and I weren’t on the same page when it came to dimensions, specifications, etc. Keeping it consistent with SLA Beeber’s wind tunnel was difficult as well. I would have had better communication with Mr. Pilla from Beeber, as well as started the fabrication process much earlier in the year.

I’m proud of the fact I created a wind tunnel with no pre-existing knowledge of how it worked, what went into it, etc. Aesthetically it could use some work, but it hits the data right on the nose perfectly.

Basic Design of Flying Wing Models,

Like some of the other sources, this one gives me the basis of the making a model plane that can be designed in the most aerodynamic way possible, so it has the best way of gliding through the wind in the wind tunnel. It gave me information on the longevity and the stability of their own example as well. It’s reliable because it’s from a Deutsch (German) University, which is known for their own aerodynamic engineering. It also gave me equations that I can use to find and calculate the wing area of the planes. It also provided me with the basics on how to create the graph on how long the plane flies for.

“” Solved: A Laminar Flow Wind Tunnel Has a Test Section That Is 4... |,

This is the core piece of my project. After the wind tunnel is made, calculating how the sophomore and junior planes run is essential. I would have to calculate the drag, the weight, the lift, and the thrust. I’ll use this textbook to find the equations and help me calculate all of these, especially the thrust. I’ll also use this to determine which factor is the most important in the design of the plane that the sophomore and juniors create. It’s reliable because it was submitted into a textbook, and has multiple sources itself. It shows that laminar flow is the best way of flying the plane as well.

Goalieguy, and Instructables. “Cardboard Wind Tunnel.”, Instructables, 1 Nov. 2017,

For the instructable above, I used it to gain inspiration and start my project. This is the one that Kamal had used to create his wind tunnel. He discusses the need for laminar flow, which is essential for a wind tunnel and measuring data. It shows the materials needed for a smaller scale model, one that uses materials that Kamal had used. It’s reliable because this is the exact design that Kamal had used himself to create a reliable wind tunnel that he has himself.  I’ll use this exact design but not the direct materials that this person uses, making it more sturdy and permanent rather than flimsy and unreliable.

jamesabt007, and Instructables. “How to Make a Wind Tunnel.”, Instructables, 22 Oct. 2017,

This source is reliable again because this is one of the sources used by Kamal when he had created his wind tunnel, which worked for the seniors when he had taught aerodynamic engineering. He based his off of the one he had seen at Temple University, which has its own professional grade wind tunnel. I found it through Mr. Kamal, who sent me this and the other instructable as the instructions he had followed himself. I’m going to change the design a bit to gather the data more smoothly, and have a way implemented into the box to gather it.

“Laminar Flow.” Couette Cell for Demonstrating Laminar Flow - Apparatus or Plans Available for Purchase | Flintbox, University of New Mexico, 6 Mar. 2007,

This is showing and explaining what Laminar Flow is, and how it’s used in real life applications. In this link, from the University of New Mexico, they display Laminar Flow

catwebster. It’s a reliable source because it’s from an educational program, the University of New Mexico. It provides me with the reasoning behind why there were straws in the instructable designs above, and how it helps with the plane’s flying and replicates reality. I found this source through a youtube video that was from the college, demonstrating how the airflow would look. It’ll help my capstone by providing a realistic view and demonstration inside of the wind tunnel, so the plane flies in conditions it would in real life.


NASA is obviously a reliable source, but for this I used this source to determine were to gather the data for the planes. It showed me that the best place to gather the data is right next to the direct flow from the laminar flow. It also gave me labels for each individual piece of the wind tunnel, so that in the process paper I can be more direct with the naming of each individual piece. The piece also shows that having a smaller “throat” of the tunnel would increase the wind speed of the tunnel, so making it better conditions to test the plane.

“Plane Statistics.” Plane Statistics -,

This article is useful because it will give me the best way to present the data I gather from the wind tunnel. It gave me how I should present the data through a presentation. The article’s domain is reliable because it’s known for giving educators good lesson plans and documenting the best way of presenting this data. It also provided me with a way of presenting the idea to the sophomores and juniors when they have to gather their own data. The best way of presenting this data through my final presentation is via graphs and infographics.

UIUC Airfoil Data Site,

The source I chose was part of the University of Illinois, the Department of Aerospace engineering which is perfect for my capstone. It’s filled with useful links and information on airfoils, which will come in handy when I’m testing the prototype and the final product. It’s incredibly reliable, because it’s not only from a University but it’s also from the department of aerospace engineering from a prestigious university. This will be the site were I gather the majority of my plans and ideas for the perfect model plane design. This will give me more information and open my mind to the best planes to use.

“What is the best design for a small flying wing with special flight envelope?” Aerodynamics - What is the best design for a small flying wing with special flight envelope? - Aviation Stack Exchange,

This article helps just because if I want to design the best possible wind tunnel, you need to design the best possible small model plane design as well. The article lists how the best wing design has wings that are not double decker; but slick and long in design. The article also gives several examples of perfect model plane designs, with real life examples being Boeing Scaneagle. The source is reliable because it has multiple degrees of verification to make sure the poster has some degree of expertise. The source is a comment chain on how a model plane has a good wing span.