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Mechanical Engineering Graduate Shares Insight Behind Aerodynamics Paper and Presentation at WCX 2024

Posted: May 3, 2024

David Galvis was looking for a way to stand out amongst his peers.

He found the perfect opportunity through SAE International.

During his undergraduate experience University of La Sabana, Columbia, David wrote the technical paper “Aerodynamic analysis of ultra-efficient vehicle prototype: Effect of spoked wheels and different configurations,” which he recently presented at SAE International’s WCX.

In the paper, David and his co-authors examined the aerodynamics of three different Shell Eco-marathon models based on their experience as student participants in the vehicle building competition.

David tested each model’s airfoilage with digital wind tunnel simulations—all done from his personal desktop. The results showed that it’s better to cover just the spokes, he shared, and the flaring from model 3 requires more material use actually less acceleration.

This exploration felt like it was a long time coming for David.

“During the second semester of my first year, the seniors at the time showed me how to conduct wind resistance simulations. It thought it was amazing that I actually got to see the streamlines going over the car, and so I’ve wanted to learn more and more about it ever since,” he said.

David found incredible valued working as a member of a team, and considered the relationship between data, technology, and research as it allowed him and his fellow students to grow.

“There’s the data, and what you can do. Student competitions help us to think about different methods and ways to solve problems,” he said.

However, the experience was not without challenges. Coming from Colombia and working in an international competition, David and his peers encountered what he described as “blank spaces” regarding technical terms that do not have an exact English equivalent.

David viewed this as a learning opportunity to work across borders.

“I’m not a native English speaker, and so I initially thought in Spanish what I wanted to say in a technical way, then translated my paper afterwards as accurately as I could,” David said.

His work paid off, bringing him to his first WCX to present his research. While making the trip alone was daunting, David found inspiration from his personal support system and looked forward to being a bridge across cultures.

After his presentation, David received praise from those in attendance and made valuable industry connections. He looks forward to pursing a master’s degree, and is excited to continue down the path of mechanical engineering.

To others coming from a similar background, David offered some words of encouragement.

“Have passion for what you do because the opportunities are definitely out there. You just have to search for them,” he said.


Looking for a student challenge to compete and learn on an international stage? Check out SAE’s University Programs to bring a team to your school.