Professor David Kittelson

CSENG Mechanical Engineering
College of Science & Engineering
Twin Cities
Project Title: 
Utilizing Computer Modeling and Simulation Software for the Design of a Next Generation Vehicle

The primary research of this group focuses on the improvement of computer-aided engineering (CAE) practices to evaluate the performance and reliability of a next-generation performance vehicle. Simulations of the vehicle’s structure, aerodynamics, and engine are conducted to evaluate the performance of their designs and their relationship to the vehicle dynamics of the entire car. The primary software packages to develop the models are ANSYS CFX and Hyperworks.

  • ANSYS CFX, a Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) package, is used to evaluate the performance of of high-lift, multi-element wings at low Reynolds numbers operating in the complex wake of the car’s chassis and tires. Wing geometries are simulated and iterated in and out of ground effect to optimize the negative lift generated by the airfoils while documenting their contribution to the vehicle dynamics of the entire car. A combination of wind tunnel testing and dynamic testing with the finished car is used to verify simulation results. Current projects focus on the development of an undertray to operate in the ground effect under the car’s body and the design of a drag reduction system to improve the overall efficiency of low aspect ratio wings over all driving conditions.

  • Hyperworks, a Finite Element Analysis (FEA) software tool, is used to determine the stiffness and strength of the vehicle frame. This allows the group to evaluate frame designs, converging on a lighter frame while maintaining torsional rigidity and without sacrificing driver safety in the event of a vehicle accident. Current frame simulations are compared to experimental results from a torsional rigidity test stand, and future research will explore the stiffness and weight of carbon fiber monocoque designs.

The accelerated design cycle imposed on the group necessitates the leverage of continuously improved simulation practices to iterate the design of components for the group's next generation vehicle, which every year becomes more efficient, more reliable, and safer.

Project Investigators

Indy Andra
Tyler Glick
Min Kim
Professor David Kittelson
Nick Morse
Kristen Morse
Kailey Pierce
Jacob Storrs
Mikhail Thomson
James Wenzel
Cliff Wood
Darrick Zarling
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