Undergraduate Labs and Facilities

  • Instrumentation Lab

    Third year students in the MAE department are introduced throughout the academic year to 16 different experiments that rise in complexity as the year progresses. The objectives of these experiments is to teach why experiments are being conducted, what are some of the common experimental methods, how results are being assessed, and what are the shortcomings of experiments. Experiments in the first semester start with simple measurement such as strain, and temperature but gradually progress to the characterization of oscillating beams, measurements of the volumetric airflow through a fan or the efficiency of single phase electric motors. By using digital data acquisition students learn about automation of experiments and statistical analysis of large data files. In the second semester, students may chose between experiments that characterize an air compressors, water pump, thermoelectric coolers, electromechanically active materials, heat exchangers, heat transfer phenomena, analyze the extent of brain injury due to head impact in car crashes or the energy transfer associate with human gait, study supersonic flows through nozzles or the aerodynamic characteristics of airfoils in subsonic wind tunnels. Some of these experiments are driven by research activities in the department and provide insight into cutting edge technology. With these experiments, concepts taught in the classroom are brought to life and applied as students gather actual data while learning important testing, data acquisition and reduction techniques.

  • Subsonic Wind Tunnels

    Third year students in the MAE department are introduced to a pair of computer controlled 12”x12” subsonic wind tunnels capable of generating wind speeds up to 145 mph. The tunnels are supplied with various aerodynamic shapes such as spheres, cylinders, airfoils and a subscale model of the F-16 fighter aircraft that can be used during academic lab course work for studies of their aerodynamic properties. With access to the department’s new 3D printer lab, students are able to create and fabricate any aerodynamic shapes they can imagine on various open access CAD programs and mount them to a common sting to study particular aspects of their own interest whether it’s related to course work or thesis and research related topics. Prescribed academic course work labs are structured to demonstrate basic aerodynamic principles of normal and axial forces, pitch and yaw moments, distributed pressures and angle of attack. With these tunnels, concepts taught in the classroom are brought to life and applied as students gather actual aerodynamic measurements while learning important testing and data acquisition techniques.

  • Mechatronics Lab

    Lab Director: Gavin Garner

    Mechatronics involves the synergistic integration of Mechanical Engineering with electronics and intelligent computer control in the design and manufacture of industrial products and processes.

    Mechatronics Lab
  • Rapid Prototyping Lab

    The RPL is a state-of-the-art advanced manufacturing facility that provides Design, 3D Printing, Laser Cutting, and CNC machining services to our students, faculty, staff, and external clients.  We welcome sponsored research projects and grant collaborations.

    Rapid Prototyping Lab
  • Machine Shop

    The Mechanical and Aerospace Machine shop exists to aid in the manufacture and construction of lab experiments and related test fixtures for use by undergraduate students. The MAE machine shop offers facilities not readily available elsewhere for student use and allows students to fabricate parts made of steel, brass, aluminum, acrylic, and other materials to a fairly high degree of accuracy.  Many students enjoy the chance for a “hands-on” experience and feel a sense of accomplishment upon learning to use the various machines to aid in their project completion.  An added benefit is the brief, though valuable, experience of gaining insight into the manufacturing and assembly process and the time required to bring a project to fruition. Also, students who have completed the shop safety short course are allowed access to the shop lab, tools, and equipment for use in constructing senior thesis and class projects requiring fabrication.

  • Flight Simulator

    Flight Simulator

    Lab Director: Haibo Dong

    This machine includes a full cockpit with “windows,” working instruments, and a moveable base that makes flights seem incredibly realistic. Professor James McDaniel, the simulator's supervisor, acquired additional computers and software to further enhance his class. He renovated the lab space to include a big window so students passing in the hall could see other students using the simulator. The lab has helped encourage students to declare aerospace engineering as their major. The machine can simulate 12 airplane models and more than 250 airports around the world, including Charlottesville’s airport. The software can simulate various weather conditions such as winds, clouds, night flight and turbulence. As students use the simulator, they learn to read and interpret flight instruments, and can feel the “aircraft” move and vibrate in response to their maneuvers.