A photo of the Wingsuit team working on their projectSponsor: Red Bull

Team Members: Isaac Apsey, Max Neill, Juan Prezas-Garces

Project Description: In recent years, action sports have become a topic of great interest, with athletes from various disciplines racking up millions of followers on social media. Major companies, such as Red Bull, help to push athletes to new levels – to do things never thought imaginable. In a collaborative effort with Red Bull as well as Teijin Aramid, our team has worked on implementing new materials and developing industry testing equipment for high performance wingsuits in an effort to achieve the longest flight distance possible. 

The wingsuit is made up of multiple sections including the leading edge and the main body. Of these sections, we focused on optimizing the main body fabric which is plagued with high surface roughness. This characteristic is responsible for increased drag and decreased aerodynamic efficiency but can be combated by modified fabric construction, specifically, a basket weave. To make up for lost strength and fabric stability associated with a basket weave construction, we chose to add Teigin’s Technora yarn, a high performance aramid. We tested various fabrics in our custom wind tunnel to show the correlation between fabric surface roughness and skin friction drag. The wind tunnel made extensive use of 3D printed parts including the tunnel supports as well as the test collar. The test collar features a carbon fiber sample plate as well as a load cell attached above for accurate force measurement. This project has been a huge learning experience for the entire wingsuit team. We learned not only how to properly communicate with industry members, but also organize an entire project with numerous deadlines and deliverables. We discovered early that having a concrete idea of what the project involves and the deliverable at the end of the year was extremely important. Overall, the experience that senior design gave us was irreplaceable. There is no better way to learn than to be thrown to the wolves and come back as a pack.