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A Design Experiment For The Fluid Mechanics Laboratory

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Innovative Laboratory Instruction

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.43.1 - 7.43.7



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Paper Authors

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James Munro

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Main Menu Session 1426

A Design Experiment for the Fluid Mechanics Laboratory

James M. Munro Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering South Dakota School of Mines and Technology


The Design-Build-Test (DBT) concept was used in creating a novel experiment for a junior-level fluid mechanics laboratory. In the experiment, student teams are presented with a unique design objective involving transport of a liquid with known or measurable properties and must design, build, and test a pump and piping system to achieve the objective. The experiment is part of a larger project to integrate design concepts throughout the chemical engineering curriculum at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (SDSM&T).


Traditional undergraduate laboratories in chemical engineering provide students an exposure to concepts of engineering science learned in the classroom, but do not provide open-ended, design experiences similar to what graduates might face as chemical engineers in industrial positions. The traditional experiments in a unit operations laboratory tend to be created around fixed pieces of equipment. The procedures, data collection and analysis, and presentation of results tend to be nearly identical for every team of students assigned to conduct a particular experiment, resulting in students taking a "cookbook" approach to laboratory experiments.

In the 2001 survey of recent graduates in chemical engineering at SDSM&T, graduates responded to the question "What could have been better in the chemical engineering program?" with comments such as "More freedom on lab experiments instead of following like a recipe;", "Implement and practice more 'hands-on' troubleshooting labs;" and "Exposure to more modern equipment control systems".

While the traditional chemical engineering laboratory experiments provide valuable exposure to process equipment and unit operations, they do not provide students with open-ended design experiences that include economic factors. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) accreditation criteria require that graduates of engineering programs possess "an ability to design a system, component or process to meet desired needs." 1

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition Copyright ©2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Munro, J. (2002, June), A Design Experiment For The Fluid Mechanics Laboratory Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10573

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