Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering


College of Engineering


Paulo Iscold

Advisor Department

Aerospace Engineering

Advisor College

College of Engineering


Aerodynamic topology optimization is a useful tool in the aerodynamic design pro-
cess, especially when looking for marginal gains within a design. One example is
a turboprop racer concept aircraft that is designed with the goal of breaking world
speed records. An optimization framework was developed with the intention of later
being applied to this design. In the early design stages, the optimization framework
must focus on quicker methods of drag estimation, such as a panel codes. The large
number of design variables in topology optimization can exponentially increase func-
tion evaluations and thus computational cost. A vorticity-based panel solver was
proven out for this application to reduce the computational cost while keeping the
accuracy of the results similar to that of traditional CFD solvers in conditions with-
out prominent flow separation. The framework developed here includes geometry
parameterization, function evaluation scripting, and post-processing, which are all
run within the optimization algorithm. The designs used to validate the solver are
wing-fuselage systems of various sailplane configurations with existing experimental
data. These sailplane designs were also used as the initial geometry to demonstrate
the framework. A parametric optimum was found to reduce drag by 9%, but it must
be noted that this method does have certain trade offs and limitations.