Beth, right after the SIM Center moved from Mississippi State to UT Chattanooga, the Center arranged an open house for engineers interested in learning more about CFD. I went. The prospect of combining fluid dynamics with CAE really fascinated me. I was blown away by the capability of the software and the modeling techniques. The first demonstration used a tractor/trailer combination and modeling air flow around the cab and trailer at various speeds. The second model demonstrated air flow around an F- 18 Hornet and how that air flow varied when airfoil surfaces came into play. The graphics were absolutely stunning. One thing I came away with was the close correlration between model and reality. In the "old days", reality was hard to come by due to issues with the mathematical algorithm. An approximation within 25% was considered to be "state-of-the-art". Times have really changed.
Thanks for the added detail, Bob. You're absolutely right about the challenge of modeling to reality, however. While your 25% percent approximation figure has been greatly improved with the latest technology, it's still one of the challenges around CFD and simulation in general.
NASCAR is one of the most interesting "playgrounds" for engineering and cutting edge tools. Before I became a NASCAR fan, I thought they just got a showroom car and put a huge motor in it. Oh no, so much more! Design of roll cages and frames for driver safety, spring rates and shock response under varying conditions, engine building and tuning, aerodynamics. etc. F1 racing seems to have more electronic control over various parameters while the car is on the racetrack, while also using engineering applications in the design and test phases. A lot of engineers have found their "happy place" in the world of motorsports.
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