Team 3: Designing Airplane Engine Struts Using Minimal Surfaces

Sunday, May 26, 2002 - 10:20am - 10:40am
Keller 3-180
Thomas Grandine (The Boeing Company)
Airplane drag is a complex function of many variables. One way to reduce drag is to reduce the surface area of the airplane components over which outside air must pass. A simple means, at least conceptually, of determining an initial design of an airplane strut is to construct a surface of minimal area which attaches to both wing and engine in a prescribed way.

In this workshop, we will investigate some of the extensive literature on minimal surfaces and attempt to find relevant references for this problem. Our goal will be to find or develop a formulation of the problem which leads to a practical means of constructing such a surface. Techniques involving the calculus of variations and the numerical solution of Euler equations are possible candidates for practical methods, but other considerations will surely arise as we become more familiar with the literature.