Mechanical Engineering Assistant Professor Peter Tkacik and Ph.D. student Sam Hellman led the tunnel construction.
"There are infinite different experiments we can do in here," Hellman said."The advantage that water tunnels have over wind tunnels is you can actually visualize the flow. There's a lot of research available for it and a lot of different opportunities. We really want to gauge what people want out of it in the community."
Weighing 57,000 pounds with almost 3.5 miles of welded bead, the tunnel is the fifth largest in the United States. The tunnel has a flow rate of 1,000 liters per second and trials have only reached 60 percent of rated speed.
Water tunnel research applications include the study of race car aerodynamics, fuel efficiency, aerospace experiments, submarine/surface vessel efficiency, as well as sports applications including swimwear efficiency, baseball bat, golf club and cycling aerodynamics, and environmental studies such as fish schooling and soil erosion.