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NASA Challenge: New Transonic Wind Tunnel Test Section

NASA is looking for ideas that can be incorporated into the designs of their next generation wind tunnel facilities. We are challenging the GrabCAD Community to design innovative wind tunnel test section(s) that can increase the effectiveness of an advanced transonic (Mach 0.05 to 1.6) wind tunnel facility.

The test section is where models are placed so that they will be exposed to the desired airflow generated by the wind tunnel to assess their performance under controlled

The test sections must be configurable for many types of models (aircraft, rockets, engines, etc.) and will need to allow many types of measurements besides the standard pressure/lift/drag measurements. Data on acoustics, bending modes, and temperature gradients is of high interest in modern design trades. Specialized test sections are sometimes needed to capture data sets with high accuracy.

Installing models and optimizing test sections for different types of measurements is time-consuming and reduces the amount of testing that can be done in a facility.

The NASA Unitary Plan Wind tunnel! is an example of a facility that can direct its airflow to three separate test sections to increase facility throughput. Interchangeable test sections may be even more efficient.

How would you design a wind tunnel facility with one or more test sections that can be efficiently and rapidly reconfigured by multiple test teams so that facility utilization can be maximized?

Potential images of Wind Tunnel Test Sections for Context

While new models are being installed and integrated into the test section, the wind tunnel is not running which results in reduced utilization. Operational efficiencies are
an area of improvement in the design of the facilities’ test section which could increase performance and cost effectiveness. The ability of the test team to rapidly swap out models is a lot like the capabilities of a race car pit crew to the overall efficiency of a wind tunnel.


This contest is in support of a NASA concept study called the “New Wind Tunnel Landscape.” The goal of the study is to develop several options to support the future wind tunnel testing required in the next 20-50 years. The test section design is one aspect of what might enhance the effectiveness of future wind tunnels. In addition to swapping out models, researchers may want to configure the test section itself for different test objectives (e.g. sound abatement for acoustic measurement accuracy, optical windows for laser metrology on structural dynamics).

A successful outcome of this contest is a 3D model of an efficient wind tunnel facility test section. Drawings showing how models are swapped in and out will help assess the designs’ feasibility. Contest submissions must include:
1. CAD models of an efficient wind tunnel test section showing any interchangeable test fixtures and/or entire test sections.
2. Include a concept for installing and instrumenting models within the wind tunnel test section.
3. Consider feasible methods of construction and mechanisms. This may be provided in 2D drawings or as a 3D model.

Renderings of the system in operation will be used to help communicate the concept and potentially be used in proposed options for the overall report on future wind
tunnel development strategies, recommendations, and future challenges for other aspects of an entire wind tunnel.

An estimate of the ability to incorporate the test section concepts into existing wind tunnels or the requirement to be part of a new wind tunnel are encouraged.

For this contest, the Unitary Plan wind tunnel facility has been provided as a starting
point. Additional features of wind tunnel test section would likely include:
1. Viewing windows
2. Model Support fixture attachment fixtures.
3. Data and power connections for instrumentation

Assume that the test section will be a minimum of 4 meters wide and 4 meters high.

Ideas that should be excluded:
1. Avoid concepts that require major subsystems to support the test section.
2. Avoid concepts that are potentially a high cost to fabricate and maintain.
3. Avoid concepts that have significant safety issues (e.g.)

For information on the current NASA suite of wind tunnels see: Link

A wind tunnel design handbook can be found here:


  • Contest submissions must include:

    1. Concept improves operational and human factors in a wind tunnel facility.
    2. Feasibility of processing models in and out of the test section.
    3. Feasibility of integrating into existing infrastructure.
    4. Feasibility of manufacturing and construction
    5. Quality and fidelity of the 3D models

  • Technical Requirements

    1. Model File Formats shall be delivered in a nonproprietary format (STEP or IGES).
    2. Renderings: Two separate viewing angles (.jpg or .png formats)
    3. Any supplemental description documents shall be in PDF format
    4. If zipped, the file compression shall be compatible with Safari or Chrome and not
    require any special software to unzip.



    If you think an entry may infringe on existing copyrighted materials, please email challenges@grabcad.com.

    By entering the Challenge you:

      1) Accept the official GrabCAD Challenges Terms & Conditions.
      2) Agree to be bound by the decisions of the judges (Jury).
      3) Warrant that you are eligible to participate.
      4) Warrant that the submission is your original work. Warrant, to the best of your knowledge, your work is not, and has not been in production or otherwise previously published or exhibited.
      5) Warrant neither the work nor its use infringes the intellectual property rights (whether a patent, utility model, functional design right, aesthetic design right, trademark, copyright or any other intellectual property right) of any other person.
      6) Warrant participation shall not constitute employment, assignment or offer of employment or assignment.
      7) Are not entitled to any compensation or reimbursement for any costs.
      8) Agree the Sponsor and GrabCAD have the right to promote all entries.

  • Submitting an Entry

    Only entries uploaded to GrabCAD through the "Submit entry" button on this Challenge page will be considered an entry. Only public entries are eligible. We encourage teams to use GrabCAD Workbench for developing their entries. Entries are automatically given the tag "NASAWINDTUNNELCHALLENGE"; when uploading to GrabCAD. Please do not edit or delete this tag. Only entries with valid tag will participate in the Challenge.


    The sum of the Awards is the total gross amount of the reward. The awarded participant is solely liable for the payment of all taxes, duties, and other similar measures if imposed on the reward pursuant to the legislation of the country of his/her residence, domicile, citizenship, workplace, or any other criterion of similar nature. Only 1 award per person. Prizes may not be transferred or exchanged. All winners will be contacted by the GrabCAD staff to get their contact information and any other information needed to get the prize to them. Payment of cash awards is made through Checks mailed to the Winners. All team awards will be transferred to the member who entered the Challenge. Vouchers will be provided in the form of Stratasys Direct Manufacturing promo codes.

    We will release the finalists before the announcement of the winners to give the Community an opportunity to share their favorites in the comments, discuss concerns, and allow time for any testing or analysis by the Jury. The Jury will take the feedback into consideration when picking the winners.

    Winning designs will be chosen based on the Rules and Requirements schedule.

  • “Submissions from countries listed as Type 2 and Type 3 on the NASA Designated Countries List (https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/designated_country_list_8-16-2019_tagged_0.pdf) are not eligible for monetary awards.

  • Schedule

    This Challenge ends on July 18, 2022 (23:59 EST.) Finalists will be announced on July 25th, 2022 and Winners will be announced on August 1st, 2022


$7000 in Total Prizes

$7000 in Total Prizes

First Place


Second Place


Third Place


Fourth Place


Fifth Place


About NASA: Aero sciences Evaluation & Test Capability

This contest supports the Aero sciences Evaluation & Test Capability (AETC) “New Wind Tunnel Landscape” study. This study is sponsored by the NASA AETC Portfolio funds. The study will help inform the author of the study who is working to define the future of wind tunnel testing and what they will look like in the future.


  • Nic

    Nic about 2 months ago

    I'm sure I won't be the first to ask, but just to confirm, is Australia eligible as indicated by the Free Trade Agreement outlined in the Foreign Acquisitions document?

    Nic has uploaded 26 CAD models & has left 92 comments.
  • Kevin Kempton

    Kevin Kempton about 2 months ago

    Yes Australia is eligible. If the country is listed in the in the link to the FAR you are eligible for a prize.

    Kevin Kempton has uploaded 0 CAD models & has left 33 comments.
  • singlefonts

    singlefonts about 2 months ago

    What is the startup and shutdown cycles time of the wind tunnel, generating the airflow? Time of the tests and measurements not included.

    singlefonts has uploaded 620 CAD models & has left 1042 comments.
  • Carlos Torre

    Carlos Torre about 2 months ago

    Are teams allowed or is it strictly individual?

    Carlos Torre has uploaded 1 CAD models & has left 1 comments.
  • Abhishek Ranjan

    Abhishek Ranjan about 1 month ago

    Can people from India participate?

    Abhishek Ranjan has uploaded 24 CAD models & has left 32 comments.
  • Francisco J. Erenas Rivas

    Francisco J. Erenas Rivas about 1 month ago


    Francisco J. Erenas Rivas has uploaded 41 CAD models & has left 84 comments.
  • Muhammed Burak Babacan

    Muhammed Burak Babacan about 1 month ago

    Is there any authorized person to enlighten us about from which countries we can participate this challenge

    Muhammed Burak Babacan has uploaded 0 CAD models & has left 2 comments.
  • Kesa

    Kesa about 1 month ago

    In order to be eligible for a prize solutions must originate from either the U.S. or a designated country (see definition of designated country at https://www.acquisition.gov/far/part-25#FAR_25_003), OR have been substantially transformed in the US or designated country prior to delivery pursuant to FAR 25.403(c).

    Kesa has uploaded 3 CAD models & has left 183 comments.
  • Muhammed Burak Babacan

    Muhammed Burak Babacan about 1 month ago

    Brother, it is extremely complicated, i just wonder am i eligible for prize, i am from turkey

    Muhammed Burak Babacan has uploaded 0 CAD models & has left 2 comments.
  • Luke Smallwood

    Luke Smallwood about 1 month ago

    If you Ctrl F the link for designated countries and look up "Designated countries" it will bring you to the list of eligible regions.

    Luke Smallwood has uploaded 1 CAD models & has left 2 comments.
  • Adnan  Syahril

    Adnan Syahril about 1 month ago

    Good opportunity

    Adnan Syahril has uploaded 13 CAD models & has left 1 comments.
  • sanjay padvi

    sanjay padvi about 1 month ago

    India is not allowed...I confirmed with Grabcad team...

    sanjay padvi has uploaded 9 CAD models & has left 11 comments.
  • Pilot45

    Pilot45 about 1 month ago

    It will be AWESOME for a NASA project

    Pilot45 has uploaded 1 CAD models & has left 3 comments.
  • Detailed

    Detailed about 1 month ago

    Good luck to the participants !

    Detailed has uploaded 20 CAD models & has left 10 comments.
  • Ayush Kumar Choudhary

    Ayush Kumar Choudhary about 1 month ago

    India is not mentioned in the designated countries list, so no for Indians.

    Ayush Kumar Choudhary has uploaded 8 CAD models & has left 1 comments.
  • Jackson Eckenrode

    Jackson Eckenrode about 1 month ago

    Hi Carlos, teams are allowed!

    Jackson Eckenrode has uploaded 0 CAD models & has left 2 comments.
  • James

    James about 1 month ago


    James has uploaded 1 CAD models & has left 1 comments.
  • Stephen Helland

    Stephen Helland about 1 month ago

    Startup/Shutdown should be considered a continuous flow tunnel meaning once turned on, the tunnel can maintain the desired range of mach numbers at a certain dew point for prolonged periods of time. Typically, transonic tunnels use dry air to maintain conditions and if the air gets too saturated, the test run is terminated.

    Stephen Helland has uploaded 0 CAD models & has left 4 comments.
  • Stéphane Gazel

    Stéphane Gazel about 1 month ago

    Are we limited to two png or jpg files?

    Stéphane Gazel has uploaded 62 CAD models & has left 201 comments.
  • Samulevich  &  Daughter.

    Samulevich & Daughter. about 1 month ago

    To American located only / Way on international site ?

    Samulevich & Daughter. has uploaded 7 CAD models & has left 226 comments.
  • Stéphane Gazel

    Stéphane Gazel about 1 month ago


    Stéphane Gazel has uploaded 62 CAD models & has left 201 comments.
  • Stéphane Gazel

    Stéphane Gazel about 1 month ago

    I did not see anything in the rules that prohibited to present several projects. Can submit other ideas under the same profile?

    Stéphane Gazel has uploaded 62 CAD models & has left 201 comments.
  • hamdi amine

    hamdi amine about 1 month ago

    Can people from Tunisia participate?

    hamdi amine has uploaded 10 CAD models & has left 4 comments.
  • Fahad Rafi

    Fahad Rafi about 1 month ago

    A challenge.

    A challenge I could take part in.

    For limited countries only.

    Heart break, truly.

    Fahad Rafi has uploaded 272 CAD models & has left 392 comments.
  • Stéphane Gazel

    Stéphane Gazel about 1 month ago

    Hey hi Lucas! You should come up with (if you have the copyrights) a little project with your omnidirectional motor....I already see the potential for a version that won't take up much space with your motor we could really put them up to date chain ... I will propose a project in this direction (but for that it would be necessary that we make "team" because I cannot use your engine if it is not of my production (among the general conditions of the Challenge).

    Stéphane Gazel has uploaded 62 CAD models & has left 201 comments.
  • Bernard Brits

    Bernard Brits 24 days ago

    South Africa not included, What a shame. Cheers!

    Bernard Brits has uploaded 41 CAD models & has left 66 comments.
  • Kesa

    Kesa 22 days ago

    Remember if you have any questions please use the comment system here on the challenge page. The challenge judges are reading your comments and will answer any questions that you may have!

    Kesa has uploaded 3 CAD models & has left 183 comments.
  • Oorjit Mahajan

    Oorjit Mahajan 20 days ago

    Are residents from India eligible to be a part of the challenge

    Oorjit Mahajan has uploaded 0 CAD models & has left 1 comments.
  • Kevin Syc

    Kevin Syc 19 days ago

    Hi, thanks for the challenge. The assumed dimensions of test section being 4m in height and 4m in width, do these refer to the inner dimensions (i.e. the size of the tunnel for the model) or outer dimensions (i.e. outsie walls, taking into consideration any wall thickness and apparatus, etc.?). Thanks!

    Kevin Syc has uploaded 5 CAD models & has left 19 comments.
  • William T

    William T 18 days ago

    These are usually the inner dimension, the available space for testing.

    William T has uploaded 1 CAD models & has left 3 comments.
  • Sahil Chaudhary

    Sahil Chaudhary 16 days ago

    To be eligible for the competition one "must originate from either the U.S. or a designated country." I reside and work in the US full time. I am not a citizen or a permanent resident though, on a visa. I am a citizen of a country that is not designated country. Does this make me ineligible?

    Sahil Chaudhary has uploaded 0 CAD models & has left 1 comments.
  • Kavish Kondap

    Kavish Kondap 16 days ago

    What does "Avoid concepts that require major subsystems to support the test section." indicate? What is considered a "major subsystem"?

    Kavish Kondap has uploaded 2 CAD models & has left 5 comments.
  • MysteriousH

    MysteriousH 16 days ago

    Couple of questions:
    1. Reading a couple of articles it is my understanding that one major challenge in transonic region wind tunnel testing is the interference from wall-flow interactions, and some articles mention use of a plenum chamber to minimize this effect. Would a plenum chamber or the like, be part of the test section or would the test section always be inside of the "parent" plenum chamber? I am asking as I imagine that if the test section has a parent chamber, then that would add some practial limitations as to how it may potentially be swapped or removed?

    2. When conducting tests, would you typically change setup completely between tests (change of instrumentation, chamber characteristics, model all at once) or is it more of the incremental nature, first test with instr #1, model #1, next inst #1, model #2, etc. ?

    3. When it comes to cost, how much does the cost of the test section matter? For example lets say we had swappable test sections each with all the instrumentation, model carriage with attitude, position control and all the sensors, thus making it possible to prepare the model/test in full, performing calibration and all, long before it entered the wind tunnel, thus minimizing wind tunnel time waste, but at the cost of each test section costing presumably in the millions. Is time saved all that matters or is there a compromise to be made?

    MysteriousH has uploaded 1 CAD models & has left 2 comments.
  • Stephen Helland

    Stephen Helland 11 days ago

    1. Answer - Plenum chamber can reduce wall interference and increase test area size. Without it, one must account for the interference and shrink actual test area. The test section usually resides inside the plenum where a plenum door allows access to the test section and model insertions. Therefore, the plenum door would need to be large enough for the test section to be swapped.
    2. Answer-Usually incremental and seldom a full model change. It's usually some variations to the model and not change instrumentation at all.
    3. Answer-if the cost of fully instrumented test sections can be recouped over time because of efficiency gains, it would pay for itself over time and worth the investment. Reality is there are always compromises to be made, but the optimum setup would be desired in this case not considering cost.

    Stephen Helland has uploaded 0 CAD models & has left 4 comments.
  • Stephen Helland

    Stephen Helland 11 days ago

    Test times should typically last for several hours depending upon required conditions like dewpoint, mach numbers, model positions, etc.

    Stephen Helland has uploaded 0 CAD models & has left 4 comments.
  • Stephen Helland

    Stephen Helland 11 days ago

    Lots of good questions and some really great submissions so far as we approach the end of the submission process. I greatly appreciate the thought, time, and effort into the proposals. I've been seeking innovative ideas and "out of the box" thinking I can definitely see by the questions and submissions. Thanks to all for the great ideas and concepts so far!!

    Stephen Helland has uploaded 0 CAD models & has left 4 comments.
  • Lucas Martin Dublanc

    Lucas Martin Dublanc 5 days ago

    Can people from Argentina participate?

    Lucas Martin Dublanc has uploaded 4 CAD models & has left 193 comments.
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