Mechanical Engineering

Contact Information

Higgins Laboratories, 242
Phone: +1-508-831-5698
Fax: +1-508-831-5680

David J. Olinger

In my teaching I bring real fluid and aerodynamics experiments, including wind tunnels, into the classroom each day. I want students to see that the theory and equations they spend so much time learning actually work! I want them to predict the behavior of aerospace systems and then go on to design improved systems in MQP projects and during their careers.

My research group (including graduate and undergraduate project students) works on an emerging renewable energy technology: airborne energy systems. Here, large kites or gliders that are tethered to the ground are used to extract energy from the wind. We also work on floating wind turbines which will be deployed in the deep ocean in the future. We conduct physical experiments and develop computer simulations to better design these systems.

Research Interests

  • Wind energy
  • Airborne wind energy
  • Fluid dynamics
  • Fluid-structure interaction
  • Aerodynamics


  • BS, Lafatyette College, 1983
  • MS, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1985
  • PhD, Yale University, 1990

Featured Publications

  • Olinger, D.J. & Goela, J.S. ‘Performance characteristics of a 1 kW scale kite-powered system’, ASME Journal of Solar Energy Engineering, Vol. 132, 041009-1 – 041009-11, (2010).
  • Balasubramanian, G., Olinger, D.J., & Demetriou. M.A., ‘A self-learning coupled map lattice for vortex shedding in cable and cylinder wakes’, Chaos, Vol. 14, No. 2, 293-304, (2004).
  • Olinger, D.J. & Hermanson, J.C., ‘Integrated thermal-fluid experiments in WPI’s Discovery Classroom’, Journal of Engineering Education, Vol. 91, No. 2, 239-243, (2002).
  • Olinger, D.J., DeStefano, E., Murphy, E., Naqvi, S.K., and Tryggvason, G., “Scale-model experiments on floating wind turbine platforms,” AIAA Paper 2012-375-237, (2012).
  • Nematbakhsh,A., Olinger, D.J., Tryggvason, G., “Development and validation of a computational model for floating wind turbine platforms,” AIAA Paper 2012-373-797, (2012).

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Professional Highlights

  • 2001 ASME National Curriculum Innovation Award - Honorable Mention
  • Summer Faculty Research Fellow, U.S. Navy - ASEE Summer Faculty Research Program, 1993
  • WPI Teaching Technology Fellowship, 2000-2001
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