How does one make a visual record of the aesthetic and science of contemporary fluid mechanics to be shared both with fellow researchers and the general public? Penn State Berks students enrolled in the college’s Flow Visualization course will present their work, titled “Gallery of Fluid Motion,” as part of a poster session from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 11, in the lobby of the Gaige Technology and Business Innovation Building. This presentation is free and open to the public.
Flow visualization is the process of making the physics of fluid flows (gases, liquids) visible. In this course, students from all majors explore a range of techniques for creating images of fluid flows. Their work is motivated not just by the utility and importance of fluid flows, but also by their inherent beauty.
According to Azar Eslam Panah, assistant professor of mechanical engineering who teaches the course, “Flow visualization is for everyone: If you have paid attention to the patterns while stirring milk into coffee or stared at the curl of a rising tendril of smoke, you have participated in flow visualization. Art and science are similar in that they both thrive on deep seeing, on expanded perception and attention, which can be gained through simple experience.”
The Flow Visualization course is part of new Integrative Studies General Education curriculum in both art and science, taught by Heidi Reuter, instructor in photography, and Azar Eslam Panah. This course reveals the techniques of making laboratory and everyday fluid flows visible for both scientific and aesthetic purposes. Questions such as "What makes an image scientific?" and "What makes an image art?" are explored. Panah and Reuter are the winners of the 2017 Gallery of Fluid Motion Award at 70th annual meeting of the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics in Denver, Colorado. The poster features Panah’s face as it is being struck by milk. With their students, they won another award this year from the 2019 Gallery of Fluid Motion at the 72nd annual meeting of the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics in Seattle, Washington. Their fascinating picture is created by mixing water paints and ferro-fluids.
In March 2017, Penn State Berks unveiled its new Fluid Discovery Lab, 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 Panah, the lab provides an opportunity for students to conduct undergraduate research and perform experiments, reinforcing classroom theory through practical application in fluid dynamics. 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.