To Inspire. To Be Inspired. – 30 Stories on HKUST Faculty, Alumni and Students

Many researchers face resistance in their work, but for aerospace engineer Prof. Zhang Xin, resistance is the key to success. From studying aircraft and race cars, to breakthroughs in competitive sport, it’s all about looking at the impact and power of airflow. Wearing her new “battle suit,” Hong Kong bronze-medal-winning Olympic track cyclist Sarah LEE Wai-Sze dismounts her bike and proclaims, “I feel like wings have been added to a tiger.” It’s the news the team at the Sports Aerodynamics Science Initiative Project (SASIP) have been waiting to hear. SASIP, jointly launched by HKUST and the Hong Kong Sports Institute, is dedicated to improving the performance of Hong Kong elite cyclists. Prof. Zhang Xin and his team have taken the technology from aerospace engineering and Formula One racing cars and applied it to the world of cycling in an effort to improve competitive performance. 117 SASIP, supported by HKUST’s Aerodynamics and Acoustics Facility, has been pushing the boundaries of what is possible in aero sports wind tunnel testing. The state-of-the-art wind tunnel is unique to the Greater Bay Area and central to Prof. Zhang’s research, enabling largescale experiments and research to take place. The low-noise wind tunnel, together with a supercomputer that can harness huge amounts of data, made various tests and developments of sports equipment, clothing, and posture possible. Prof. Zhang loves the challenge posed by competitive track and triathlon cycling. He’s fascinated by the way in which the technology the team is developing can compensate for a rider continually changing position in a race, affecting airflow and wind resistance — even a rider’s hair can influence performance. Armed with data and new technology, the team provides professional advice to Hong Kong’s elite athletes. They are informed by the precise and detailed information of the supercomputer, and the suits they have developed have saved more power than regular outfits — a critical measure!