AIAA Paper 2005-1072. Presented at the 43rd AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting and Exhibit, January 10, 2005, pages 1-8. This article is in the public domain. Published by American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
NOTE: At the time of publication, the author Russell M. Cummings was on sabbatical leave from Cal Poly.
As aerodynamics education has evolved over the past decades, a slow transition from important analytic methods to increasingly powerful computational methods has taken place. While a basic understanding of theoretical aerodynamics should always be included in coursework, the realities of modern design practices make the usefulness of the traditional approach less and less practical. A new undergraduate course in computational aerodynamics has been developed that attempts to give students experience with the modern computational tools of aerodynamics, primarily from an applications perspective. While introducing students to the important computational topics of accuracy and stability, the course stresses the practical tools that computational aerodynamics requires: importance of understanding the physical problem, developing a good grid, checking results for convergence and accuracy, and computing unsteady, turbulent flows. A number of “lessons learned” have resulted from teaching the course, including the importance of providing appropriate background instruction in computer systems and command languages, providing tutorials for obtaining skill in grid generation and flow visualization, and giving students individual attention for learning the “gray” skills of computational aerodynamics. Provided appropriate attention and support is available, we believe that undergraduate students can be taught computational aerodynamics at a level that will make them intelligent users of modern computational tools.