Penn State Berks unveils new Fluid Discovery Lab

READING, Pa. — A group of nearly 100 members of the campus and local community gathered in Penn State Berk's Gaige Technology and Business Innovation Building for the unveiling of the new Fluid Discovery Lab from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. on Wednesday, March 29.

The Fluid Discovery Lab is the newest state-of-the-art engineering laboratory in the Gaige Technology and Business Innovation Building and the only open access laboratory dedicated to the study of fluid dynamics in the Penn State system. Designed and constructed under the guidance of Azar Eslam-Panah, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, the lab provides an opportunity for students to conduct undergraduate research and perform experiments, reinforcing classroom theory through practical application in fluid dynamics.

During the ceremony, Janelle Larson, division head for engineering, business, and computing, credited Eslam-Panah with bringing the initiative to campus and working with students, the architect and the builder to complete construction of the lab in a little over a year.

The Fluid Discovery Lab includes a water channel facility (wind tunnel with water), which was designed and constructed in the lab with the assistance of engineering students through independent study, class projects, and the Penn State Schreyer Honors program. The lab is also equipped with a Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) system and automated dye injectors for flow visualization.

soccer ball in fluid
Image: Penn State

“Water channels are used for a variety of teaching and research purposes, including hydrodynamic and aerodynamic studies, to provide a practical and experience-based education that results from active faculty-student interaction,” explained Eslam-Panah. “The Fluid Dynamics Lab will provide unique and exciting opportunities for undergraduates to be part of the true discoveries. Experiences of this type often inspire students to pursue advanced degrees in engineering.”

Eric Weir, 2016 electro-mechanical engineering technology graduate, was one of the speakers at the ceremony. He said that he and the other students worked together to build the water channel facility for the lab and thanked Eslam-Panah for the opportunity to participate in the project.

In addition to Weir, other students who helped build the water channel facility include Electro-Mechanical Engineering Technology majors Kenneth Minton, Marc Ludwig, and Thomas Rudzenski and Mechanical Engineering majors Raymond Jones and Tamuno “Bryant” Negiye Warmate.

people in lab
Image: Penn State

Eslam-Panah’s research focuses on the physics of flows using a range of experimental techniques that can be extrapolated into engineering applications. Her research interests include unsteady aerodynamics of biologically-inspired air and underwater vehicles and fluid dynamics in human bodies.

The architectural firm Entech Engineering in Reading designed the renovations. 

For more information about the Fluid Discovery Lab, contact Eslam-Panah at 610-396-6181 or via email at aue10@psu.edu