Blog

Note: Medical Design Technology first published this blog at www.mdtmag.com in May 2016.

Medtronic, one of the world’s largest medical technology services and solution companies, was tasked with the challenge of assessing the flow field for adequate solution mixing for a biomedical experiment. Medtronic turned to a Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulation to assist with finding a solution.

Originally conceived as pure test of athletic ability, the motto of the Olympic games is “Citius, Altius, Fortius”, which is Latin for "Faster, Higher, Stronger". However, Olympic competitors are increasingly supplementing hard work and training with engineering simulation in their quest for Olympic glory. As the the sun sets over Rio and the Games of the XXXI Olympiad I decided to investigate some of the ways engineering simulation is influencing the outcome of Olympic sporting events.

The recent Silverstone Formula Student competition highlights the reasons for the success of university formula car events. Few student projects allow undergraduates to demonstrate so many skills needed for real-world engineering roles. Team members engage in car design, project management, procurement, testing, and even sponsorship fund raising. Engineering simulation software is heavily used for aerodynamics, suspension designs and internal cooling systems and some team leaders spend as much as 40 hours per week on team duties in addition to their school studies.

As the dust settles on the Tour de France, and before it is stirred up again in Rio for the 2016 Olympic games, cycling sure is in the news of late. Unlike most sports in the summer Olympics, cycling is probably only one of two sports (the other being sailing) where aerodynamic performance directly impacts the athlete. So much so that at 50km/h 90% of the energy loss is related to aerodynamic drag.

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