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The University of Southampton

Southampton wind tunnel blows Gold in Beijing

Published: 15 August 2008
Chris Hoy

Engineers using the University of Southampton's R J Mitchell wind tunnel worked with the British cycling team in their preparation for Beijing.

The world-renowned Wolfson Unit for Marine Technology and Industrial Aerodynamics (WUMTIA) carried out wind tunnel testing to accelerate the development of British cycling's track bikes and riders.

Using their expertise, they focussed on direct performance gains and improving understanding of the complex aerodynamics involved.

WUMTIA engineer Dr Martyn Prince, who worked with British cyclists in the Southampton wind tunnel, said: "We congratulate the British cycling team on their amazing achievements. It is great to be able to apply our engineering expertise in this way and a privilege to work with these top athletes.

"We're delighted that we have been able to help them with what they have achieved in Beijing, making all of our hard work together worthwhile."

WUMTIA is one of eight organisations chosen as Innovation Partners to UK Sport, providing support to the UK's best athletes and coaches so that they can reach their full potential in international competitions.

Head of Research and Innovation at UK Sport, Dr Scott Drawer, added: "Working with the team at WUMTIA has been a truly world-class experience. Their enthusiasm and passion for excellence has never faltered during this Olympiad.

Chris Hoy testing in the Southampton wind tunnel.
Triple gold medallist

"We hope our working relationship will continue to go from strength to strength over the next four years as we try and build on the knowledge and insights we have gained in cycling and many of our other leading sports."

The University of Southampton's R J Mitchell wind tunnel, named after the Spitfire fighter designer, is more accustomed to testing Formula One cars and aircraft.

It has been diversifying into other areas, as the benefits of wind tunnel testing can improve the performance of anything from buildings and wind turbines, to trains and yachts. It is part of the School of Engineering Science's low-speed wind tunnel complex, one of the most extensive in the UK.

In addition to supporting British cycling, the School of Engineering Sciences currently has three Engineering Doctorate students sponsored by UK Sport to allow in-depth study of other sports in a research-based environment.

For more information about one of the UK's leading engineering schools, see .

Notes for editors

  • Image:

    Chris Hoy testing in the Southampton wind tunnel. Photo: UK Sport and Paul McCabe, Southampton Photographic.

  • 1. The Wolfson Unit for Marine Technology and Industrial Aerodynamics offer consultancy services in ship design, yacht design, small craft design, naval architecture, marine technology and industrial aerodynamics, providing tank testing, wind tunnel testing, consultancy, design software, onboard systems and innovative research to a worldwide customer base. It is part of the Research Institute for Industry in the School of Engineering Sciences at the University of Southampton.

    2. The University of Southampton's low-speed wind tunnel complex is one of the most extensive in the UK. The flagship 3.6m x 2.5m R J Mitchell tunnel has been used by Formula 1, Indy Racing League and CART racing teams, LMP GT/GTS-class sports cars, and other motorsport teams. Along with the smaller 2.1m x 1.5m wind tunnel, we use state-of-the-art measurement systems for commercial and research projects with world-leading aerospace companies and marine organisations, including America's Cup yachts.

    3. The University of Southampton's School of Engineering Sciences offers expertise in engineering disciplines that underpin every aspect of 21st century life. Evolving from its traditional engineering roots, the School continues to expand into new, exciting research areas. From orthopaedic implant modelling and modern fuel cell technologies, to enhancing satellite broadcast technology and improving the aerodynamics of Formula One racing cars and hydrodynamics of America's Cup yachts, the School is always at the leading edge of engineering research. It offers undergraduate courses in Aeronautics and Astronautics, Mechanical Engineering and Ship Science, and postgraduate courses in a variety of related subjects.

    4. The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship across a wide range of subjects in engineering, science, social sciences, health and humanities.
    With over 22,000 students, around 5,000 staff, and an annual turnover of over £350 million, the University of Southampton is acknowledged as one of the country's top institutions for engineering, computer science and medicine. We combine academic excellence with an innovative and entrepreneurial approach to research, supporting a culture that engages and challenges students and staff in their pursuit of learning

    5. UK Sport is the Government agency responsible for investing in and supporting our Olympic and Paralympic sports and athletes. It currently invests around £100 million a year in the World Class Performance Programme, supporting over 1,400 athletes across 24 Olympic and 20 Paralympic sports. It underpins this investment through providing dedicated services to sports and their staff and athletes, such as Elite Coach, Sports Medicine and Sports Science, Talent ID, Performance Lifestyle and Research and Innovation. UK Sport also operates as the National Anti-Doping Organisation, and is the lead agency for international sporting issues.

    6. UK Sport's Research and Innovation programme is led by Dr Scott Drawer and strategically invests £1.5millon per year in collaborative projects to enhance the performance of British Olympic and Paralympic athletes. In 2008, the Research and Innovation team announced Innovation Partnerships with the following organisations in recognition of their ability to provide innovative performance solutions for elite sport: BAE Systems (Podium Innovation Partner), epm: technology, Frazer-Nash Consultancy, Loughborough University Sports Technology Institute, University of Portsmouth, Sheffield Hallam University, TotalSim, Wolfson Unit.

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