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Our senior design project entails designing, analyzing the front upper aerodynamic nose for the Formula SAE at VCU’s race team. Currently there are no provisions on the chassis to provide relief for parasitic loss of speed & efficiency due to drag. Since Formula SAE is focused on building a engineered, safe, and efficient vehicle our aerodynamic design will help with handling, downforce, and fuel economy all while reducing drag. Our Aerodynamic design will play a key role not only in how the Formula car is perceived aesthetically, but our calculations will be a large determining factor in the cars overall final performance.

Our group started the project by initially consulting texts to better grasp knowledge on aerodynamic systems and their role in contributing to an efficient vehicle. With our research we were able to come up with numerous design considerations and gained more insight into how aerodynamics systems are analyzed. Once we conducted our background research we made some rough sketches of what we wanted the aero to look like. With these 2-D drawings we gathered equations necessary to calculate the drag coefficient and conducted a theoretical analysis of our 2D version to compare to our 3D calculations that will be solved using ANSYS. Our research showed us that the tear drop is generally thought to be the best shape so we based our drawings off of that consideration. Once we had a rough sketch, we started modeling the aero using an existing drawing of the chassis in Solidworks. At this stage we created a few different types of models so that in the future we would be able to quickly differentiate the aspects of our drawings that reduced the coefficient of drag.

Moving forward with the project we expect to encounter many other problems associated with our design and analysis. However our aim is to narrow down our 3D designs and consider the aspects that reduced drag. This will allow us to come up with a further refined result. Once our data is analyzed we can conduct a comparison of our initial designs versus our final product and gain understanding as to what is needed to quickly and efficiently design aero in the future. This project will entail engineering through hand calculations, designing for real world problems using surface models in solidworks, and performing an analysis using the finite element method & computational fluid dynamics.

Publication Date



mechanical and nuclear engineering, aerodynamics


Engineering | Mechanical Engineering | Nuclear Engineering

Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Robert Sexton

VCU Capstone Design Expo Posters


© The Author(s)

Date of Submission

August 2015

Main Body Aerodynamics