Building Wings to Generate Lift with Boeing Engineers


What does it take to solve problems, help
others and improve the world around you? Curiosity, Creativity, Persistence. What it takes are the skills of an engineer. Hi My name is Andrew and I’m an engineer at
Boeing and I work on developing methods to predict how airplanes will fly. My name is Josh and I’m an engineer at Boeing
where I do computational fluid dynamics where we use computers to calculate how air flows
over wings and airplanes. Andrew and Josh work to improve the efficiency
of how an airplane flies. They study the effects of Air flowing around
wings to generate lift and drag. One way to do that is by testing wings in
a wind tunnel. A wind tunnel is basically a big tube where
engineers place a plane, wing, or a model and blow air over it. So rather than having the airplane fly through
the air, we make the air fly over the airplane, that way we can watch it in one spot and measure
how the forces behave and how the air is pushing different directions. When flying an airplane the weight of the
airplane pulls it down toward the earth and we need to counteract that with lift to pull
it up and keep it in the air. Lift is the upward force that enables aircraft
to fly and stay in the sky. In order to generate lift objects use wings
and the shape of the wing is very important. An airfoil is the shape of the wing when you
look at it from the side, you can change the way air flows around the airfoil by changing
its shape. The ideal shape of an airfoil changes by how
you want to use that airfoil but most of them boil down to a teardrop shape. Where it has a nice curve in the front and
it tapers to a sharp end at the back. Engineers design wings to increase the speed
of the air on the top of the wing and slow it down underneath the wing, the curved front
of the airfoil helps do just that. The slower air on the bottom acts as a pushing
force under the wing and pushes the aircraft up creating lift. By using wind tunnels engineers are able to
measure how air moves over wings but it can take a very long time to build an accurate
model of the wing and get time in the tunnel. If we do it inside the computer, we can do
it much faster. So Andrew and Josh basically create virtual
wind tunnels which are great at providing information that is harder to physically test
like when a plane is maneuvering or turning sharply. But to collect all the right data, Andrew
has to do some math. So one of the things that we do is that we
end up representing essentially every molecule or region of space by an equation. But when we do that there is just so many
equations we can’t write them down and solve them on paper we’re often dealing with like
5 billion equations at once. Wow, that is impressive! How can we use these ideas to build something? In this design challenge you’ll design a flying
wing and use a fan to test it. You’re going to build a wing that is able
to generate as much lift as possible. You’ll have to not only think about the shape
of the wing but also the angle of the wing and the stability of your entire structure. You can test your wing by using a fan to simulate
a wind tunnel. And remember, if it doesn’t work at first,
you can learn from mistakes and try again! One of the things about being an engineer
is that you never know how much you don’t know. You have to always keep looking and always
keep trying to have a deeper understanding of all the different sides to things. Want to engineer your own wing and test it
in your own wind tunnel? Check out the activity on curiosity machine!

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