Sunday, February 21, 2010

Engineering Simulation at Olympics

I have been watching Vancouver Winter Olympics 2010 with great deal of attention. My loyalties lie with US but cheer any genuinely great sporting achievement. What fascinates me is the true grit and determination of these athletes to overcome great odds to attain perfection! And knowing our passion "engineering simulation" has helped them along towards these levels of perfection really brings a huge smile on my face.

Images Courtesy:

I wanted to bring light to some of the engineering simulation such as FEA, CFD etc., that goes on in preparation towards these levels of perfections.

Above images show pressure contours on a simulated skeleton slider, with pathlines colored by velocity magnitude (Postprocessed by Ensight). The story behind the simulation is as interesting as the technology itself. You can read the complete story here. The story in short goes something like this: In preparation for 2006 Winter Olympics at Turin, Italy, Kristan Bromley, the top-ranked skeleton bobsled competitor in the UK, approached the Elite Sports CFD Unit - a part of the Sports Engineering Research Group (SERG) in Sheffield, UK - and asked them to provide CFD flow simulation support to increase his chances of success. Bromley's goal:
Minimize the overall aerodynamic drag by assessing small changes in surface texture of his skin-suit. Bromley ended up with a respectable 5th ranking in Turin Winter Olympics and went on to bring home the first gold medal for Britain since 1965 at the 2008 FIBT World Championships. Bromley maintains philosophy of using advanced technology to enhance on-ice performance. Although, the CFD analysis may have been just a drop in the ocean in terms of the dedication, grit and determination for such olympic athletes, it is still atleast a drop!

More information:

Below are a few more articles that show the role of engineering simulation that goes into such perfection!
ANSYS Article: Giving Ski Racers an Edge
FLUENT Article: CFD for Bob Sled Team
ANSYS Article: Finite Element Analysis on Mountain Climbing Ice Axe to study crack initiation on serrated blade.

Hats off to all the fantastics athletes and the engineering simulation that is enhancing their performance on ice! :)

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