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ASME Names Mechanical Engineering Landmarks

October 18, 2005

The drop test machine and wind tunnel of Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, two aeronautical research tools that advanced Eiffel’s legacy beyond the famous tower in France, wiil be honored on October 27, 2005, in Paris.

At an awards ceremony at the Auteuil Laboratory, ASME will name the two devices a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark. Mechanical engineering landmarks recognize technical devices and systems that are judged to contribute to technological progress.

Eiffel used his drop test machine to measure the velocity and drag of various objects in vertical motion. The apparatus included two parallel cylinders, one containing the test object and the other housing a spring-driven measurement device that could record drag on graph paper. The machine, which was placed into service for the first time in 1903, “was the most advanced device of its type,” according to the ASME commemoration plaque.

The wind tunnel represented Eiffel’s effort to take aeronautical testing and research to a higher level. Eiffel’s wind tunnel validated the concept of relative motion. The system that he patented in 1912 featured an open-jet of air within a closed test chamber and a downstream diffuser. The diffuser “improved the efficiency of the Eiffel aerodynamic system” and included design attributes that “were emulated in many later tunnels,” says the ASME plaque.

At the awards ceremony, ASME will present the plaque to the Auteuil laboratory in Paris, which is the most complete early aeronautical laboratory in existence.

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