Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering programs flying high with four new facilities in the works

Four new research facilities ranging from helicopter dynamics to 3D printing will soon be part of Carleton’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

“I think [the facilities are] a reflection of the increasing research program in the department, and they’re a reflection of the renewed commitment by the Faculty to improve the facilities in the undergraduate laboratories,” says Departmental Chair, Jonathan Beddoes.

Two of the facilities will have a direct influence on research capabilities. The first is a wind tunnel designed and built by Carleton researchers to assist with the study and design of helicopters, an area in which Carleton is emerging as a world leader. The lab will be used to design helicopter blades that make less noise and should be operational by March 2005.

The second new research facility is a plasma spray lab that will help in the creation and evaluation of ceramic coatings to protect materials from erosion, heat and general wear. It’s a relatively new area of research at Carleton, and one that is garnering a lot of interest from the airline industry today.

“It’s huge, because we have the ability to design and manufacture coatings for specific applications, and the service requirements are such that uncoated components just don’t last,” says Beddoes.

In addition to the new research facilities, the Department will also benefit from two labs that will increase hands-on learning opportunities for undergraduate students.

The first is a 3D printer lab, which can create three-dimensional models through a process that slowly lays down plastic in thin layers based on a computer model. This facility, which is already in use, is primarily for undergraduate Engineering and Industrial Design students in their design courses.

The second lab, currently under construction, is an upgraded gas turbine facility, which will include a full-size gas turbine engine equipped with modern instrumentation.

Beddoes says all the above facilities are part of a drive by the Faculty to continue to improve the quality of education for Carleton students.

“Certainly, without any doubt, the laboratory experience for our students in this program, which is key to an undergraduate program, is improving with these expenditures,” says Beddoes.

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