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A Cross Curricular Numerical And Experimental Study In Heat Transfer

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Improving Mechanics & Structural Modeling Courses

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.23.1 - 15.23.12



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Paper Authors

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Timothy Doughty University of Portland

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Steven O'Halloran University of Portland

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A Cross Curricular Numerical and Experimental Study in Heat Transfer


In this study, the integration of numerical and experimental analyses for the heat transfer of a cooling cylinder is revisited. In the spring of their Junior year, students in an introductory heat transfer course are asked to perform a numerical analysis of the cooling phenomenon for the free convection of cooling cylinder. The students study both aluminum and acrylic cylinders, affording students the opportunity to test the validity of the lumped capacitance model for the system. In the fall of their senior year, the same students in a technical elective Systems and Measurement course are asked to design and conduct an experiment to validate their simulation. This includes generating LabVIEW code, setting data acquisition parameters, and determining appropriate post processing for the data. Additionally, students are given a review of their numerical study just prior to their experimental work. Analysis of their performance and an assessment of survey results are used to determine the degree to which the integrated exercise has been appreciated.


This paper documents a heat transfer project that incorporates both numerical analysis (finite difference) and experimental testing to teach basic concepts of conduction and convection. In the project, a heated small aluminum cylinder and a small acrylic cylinder are cooled and the temperature of the cylinders through time is calculated (numerical analysis) and measured (experimental testing). This project was done over the span of two undergraduate courses, a required introductory heat transfer lecture course (ME 336 Heat Transfer) and a senior level technical elective on instrumentation (ME 491 Systems and Measurement). The goal of the project is to reinforce concepts of conduction and convection heat transfer through computational methods and experimental testing. The project was separated into two courses for the following reasons. First, in a single course it is often not possible to have enough time to conduct detailed numerical analysis and time intensive experiments, especially for a lecture oriented course. Second, by using two separate courses the students can see the relationship between different engineering courses and strengthen their appreciation of their curriculum. This project has been done by the authors once before1 and several improvements were included in this study. In addition to documenting the project, a student survey was given to determine the effectiveness of the project in reinforcing fundamental heat transfer concepts related to convection and conduction.

Computational methods often work very well to solve heat transfer problems and several recent studies have shown this effectiveness2,3,4,5. Even though computational methods are valuable, hands-on learning through conducting experiments is also an important teaching tool6. Therefore, there is an effort to develop laboratory work that supplements numerical investigations in the field 7.

Doughty, T., & O'Halloran, S. (2010, June), A Cross Curricular Numerical And Experimental Study In Heat Transfer Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16644

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