_NEWS Mechanical Engineering

Meet the Beetles
Drexel scientists are learning lessons about the aerodynamics of aircraft flight through one of nature’s most powerful flying insects: the rhinoceros beetle.

_MinJun Kim

Kim is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering and mechanics. His focuses are on micro/nanoscale fluid mechanics, biological transport phenomena and more.

With the help of scientists in Drexel’s mechanical engineering department, rhinoceros beetles could play a big part in the next generation of aircraft design.

MinJun Kim is leading a team of engineers in National Science Foundation-funded research that examines the function and aerodynamics of the Allomyrina dichotoma beetle in collaboration with Konkuk University in South Korea.

Kim’s research aims to study the movements of a beetle’s wing by controlling its motion remotely via four tiny electrodes implanted in its body. The team then films the flight of the beetle from takeoff to landing while electrical currents direct the extension, contraction, direction and flapping frequency of the wings.

“A quantitative investigation of aerodynamics and wing kinematics in beetle flight will shed new light on the evolution of flapping flight in nature,” Kim says.


The Use of a Wind Tunnel Allows the Researchers to See how air currents move around the wings they flap during flight.