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Engineering

Southampton’s RJ Mitchell Wind Tunnel in the spotlight

Published: 13 January 2014
Wind Tunnel

Olympic gold medallist and cycling star Chris Boardman has officially opened a new extension to the University of Southampton’s RJ Mitchell Wind Tunnel and praised its contribution to Great Britain’s top level achievements in the sport.

"That building was instrumental in our success in Beijing and London," he explains. "The likes of Vicky Pendleton and Sir Chris Hoy, they've all been here, spending several days in the wind tunnel honing their racing positions and performance for success. 

The RJ Mitchell Wind Tunnel, the largest of its kind in the UK University sector, has a prestigious history. Starting off as the Farnborough No 2 tunnel in the 1920s, it was donated to the University around 1980 and is now used by students, researchers and external customers including Formula One, cycling, winter sports, World Rally and Indy Car teams. It is also used extensively for aerodynamic development for production sports cars and by the aerospace industry.

Chris Boardman launching the new facilities with other industry partners at the R.J.Mitchell Wind Tunnel
Chris Boardman

Fourth year Aeronautics and Astronautics student Michael Bamforth is preparing to use the RJ Mitchell Wind Tunnel as part of his Group Design Project. "Without it we couldn't get our plane flying and understand its performance, which is the ultimate goal of the project," he says.

University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Don Nutbeam, says: "This new facility is great news for the University and continues to boost Southampton's world-leading reputation in engineering and the impact we have globally."

In the same week, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) announced that the University of Southampton was joining a new £13.3 million National Wind Tunnel Facility (NWTF) aimed at keeping the UK at the forefront of aerodynamic and fluid mechanics research.

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