Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering


David Marshall


Most major sports today use a dedicated ball or projectile with specific shape, size, and surface geometry, except for soccer. Over the history of the sport, the surface geometry and design stayed relatively unchanged, sewn together using 32 pentagonal and hexagonal panels. However, recent innovations in panel designs differ substantially from the traditional 32 panel ball. The effects these new designs have on the aerodynamic characteristics of the ball have remained largely unknown, even with the influx of experimental research completed in the past decade. Experimental studies have been broad in scope, analyzing an entire ball in wind tunnels or full flow paths in trajectory analyses. Computational efforts have been too assumptive in flow conditions, such as a fully turbulent flow field, which has not yielded accurate representations of the flow phenomenon. This study investigates the aerodynamic effects of the seam on a two-dimensional representation of a non-rotating soccer ball using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD). By applying a transitional solver to the narrowed scope of a two-dimensional flow domain, with a single seam in cross-flow, the effects of the seam on the boundary layer and overall transient flow structure can be more accurately modeled. Data analysis suggests the seam produces a local effect on skin friction, however, that effect does not materialize into a premature boundary layer transition or delayed separation point, as predicted by literature. A detailed flow visualization is consistent with this result, displaying expected symmetric vortex shedding similar to a smooth cylinder, but not fully capturing the effects of the seam, reinforcing the need for expanding computational research efforts in this field.