Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Ann Anderson




prototype, swimsuit, coating, material


The goal of this project was to fabricate and test a prototype technical swimsuit (low-drag suit worn by swimmers in their most important races) that utilized the hydrophobic properties of silica aerogels. This process involved coating a preexisting suit with aerogel material and completing the build of the newly redesigned water channel at Union College. To evaluate performance of materials, surface drag testing of airfoils coated in aerogel materials was performed using a dynamometer in the water channel. Several additions were made to the water channel in order to reduce variation in drag results. Variation was successfully decreased from 134% to 8.7%. Results from the aerogel drag testing were compared to similar tests run on airfoils covered in racing suits that are worn by professional swimmers. Drag coefficients ranging from 0.037 to 0.040 were calculated using dynamometer drag readings. Sessile drop tests were performed to measure the contact angle of a drop of water 2 μL on the surface of each material. Contact angles greater than or equal to 135 degrees were found for all items tested. It was found that aerogel coated suits performed comparably to racing suits in drag testing and outperformed racing suits in contact angle testing.