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A Gentle Bridge between Dynamics and Thermodynamics

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Innovations in Teaching and Research in Physics or Engineering Physics II

Tagged Division

Engineering Physics & Physics

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.48.1 - 23.48.6



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Paper Authors


David K. Probst P.E. Southeast Missouri State University

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David Probst is Chair of the Department of Physics and Engineering Physics at Southeast Missouri State University. He teaches courses for students majoring in physics or engineering physics, as well as a conceptual physics course for general education.

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Yumin Zhang Southeast Missouri State University

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A Gentle Bridge between Dynamics and ThermodynamicsEngineering Mechanics-Dynamics is the foundation of many advanced courses in mechanicalengineering, which utilizes calculus and vector analysis to solve problems. EngineeringThermodynamics is an exception, and these familiar mathematical tools are not very effectivebecause the properties of gasses are too complicated. Instead, people rely on data tables anddiagrams to analyze and solve problems. Therefore, most students are at a loss at the beginningof this course, and some of them do not get the idea until the end of semester. It is very difficultto learn a completely new approach, but it would be much easier if an analogy can be foundusing something with which students are familiar.State and properties are central concepts in Engineering Thermodynamics, which are the contentof these data tables. What students need is an integrated idea of these parameters so that they cansee the relationships in various processes. Actually, we can also define state and properties inEngineering Mechanics-Dynamics; for example, the state of a flying bullet can be described byits position, velocity, momentum, energy, etc. When this bullet penetrates through a wood plank,these parameters will change, and this is similar to a process in thermodynamics.From another point of view, the concepts of state and properties are also very helpful in learningEngineering Mechanics-Dynamics. In this course, the concepts of linear momentum and angularmomentum, kinetic energy and potential energy are introduced in different chapters. Students arevery comfortable in solving problems while learning these individual conservation laws, but theyhave big trouble during final exam when they need to decide which law applies to a specificproblem. By sharing the concepts in these two courses, students can learn both of them moreeffectively.

Probst, D. K., & Zhang, Y. (2013, June), A Gentle Bridge between Dynamics and Thermodynamics Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19062

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