Water Channel/Water Tunnel

Laminar Flow Water Channel

The Laminar Flow Water Channel is used predominantly for undergraduate student experiments in the AERSP 305 laboratory course, and is popularly featured during many department tours. Course-related experiments include determining fluid dynamic lift force, drag force and pitching moment on a 3D model, wake vortex visualization behind an airfoil, general flow visualization around a fully (or partially) submerged vehicle, and comparison and testing of various visualization techniques.

Research has also been performed in this facility, some of which involves boundary layer growth, LDV measurements, hydrogen bubble visualization, ocean paravane development and testing, and preliminary development of micro-scale water turbines.

Key Faculty: Rick Auhl

Water Channel Features:

  • Closed-return circuit: 31.5' x 6.6' x 5.2' (9.6 m x 2.0 m x 1.6 m)
  • Open surface test section: 2.6' x 1.6' x 12' (0.8 m x 0.5 m x 3.7 m)
  • Water Speeds: 0.1 to 3.0 fps (0.03 to 0.9 m/s)
  • Typical Reynolds-number range: 50,000 to 100,000
  • Typical Froude-number range: 0.3 to 0.5
  • 3D wake survey capability behind models

Garfield Thomas Water Tunnel

Located in Penn State’s Applied Research Laboratory, the Garfield Thomas Water Tunnel (GTWT) is the U.S. Navy’s principal experimental hydrodynamic research facility.

The GTWT is a 48-inch diameter, closed-circuit, closed-jet water tunnel used for a variety of tests: steady and unsteady forces and moments, optical flow field surveys, pressure distributions, cavitation performance, noise and vibration measurements, flow visualization, torque, and thrust.



The Penn State Department of Aerospace Engineering, established in 1961 and the only aerospace engineering department in Pennsylvania, is consistently recognized as one of the top aerospace engineering departments in the nation, and is also an international leader in aerospace education, research, and engagement. Our undergraduate program is ranked 15th and our graduate programs are ranked 15th nationally by U.S. News & World Report, while one in 25 holders of a B.S. degree in aerospace engineering in the U.S. earned it from Penn State. Our students are consistently among the most highly recruited by industry, government, and graduate schools nationwide.

The department is built upon the fundamentals of academic integrity, innovation in research, and commitment to the advancement of industry. Through an innovative curriculum and world-class instruction that reflects current industry practice and embraces future trends, Penn State Aerospace Engineering graduates emerge as broadly educated, technically sound aerospace engineers who will become future leaders in a critical industry

Department of Aerospace Engineering

229 Hammond Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802

Phone: 814-865-2569