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A Hands-on Learning Module Pipe-flow Velocity Profile Interrogator Laboratory Kit for Remote Online Fluid Mechanics Instruction

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Energy Conversion and Conservation Division Technical Session 1: Mechanical and CAD Track

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

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Paper Authors


Nina T. Jones University of Florida

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Nina T. Jones is a 4th-year mechanical engineering undergraduate student at UF. The research outlined in this paper was fueled by her efforts to obtain academic distinction via an Honors Thesis. In addition to this, Ms. Jones has academic research experience in chemistry and biomechanics; she fabricated a pen to electrolytically clean silver tarnish and investigated parametric models of the pelvis for crash simulation. She worked as a contract engineer at Engineer Inc., a Gainesville education enterprise that designs and distributes STEM laboratory kits to remote learners. She is currently working as an intern in an effort to expand her scope to the aerospace field.

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Sean R. Niemi University of Florida

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Sean R. Niemi is a Lecturer in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at UF, and founder of the MERGE (MEchanical engineeRing desiGn pEdagogy) Lab focusing his research and teaching efforts on Capstone Design, Mechanical Design, Design for Manufacturing, and Instrumentation Design. Sean co-advises the UF Rocket Team (Swamp Launch), mentoring a group of interdisciplinary students in developing a 10,000 ft. apogee rocket for the Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition. He also mentors members of both the FSAE Combustion and Electric Vehicle teams. Dr. Niemi has worked in industrial maintenance and aerospace, with graduate work in soft matter engineering, 3D bio-printing, and biotribology.

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Matthew J. Traum Engineer Inc. Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Matthew J. Traum is founding CEO at Engineer Inc., a Florida-based STEM education social enterprise. Traum also holds an appointment as a Senior Lecturer & Associate Instructional Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Florida. He is an experienced educator, administrator, fund raiser, and researcher with co-authorship of 16 peer-reviewed research and pedagogical journal papers, 46 refereed research and pedagogical conference articles. As PI or Co-PI, Traum has attracted over $865 K in funding for research and education. Prior to founding Engineer Inc., Dr. Traum was an Associate Professor and Director of Engineering Programs at Philadelphia University. He previously served on the MSOE faculty as well as co-founding the Mechanical & Energy Engineering Department at the University of North Texas – Denton. Traum received Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in mechanical engineering from MIT, and he holds two B.S. from the UC Irvine in mechanical and aerospace engineering.

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Engineering education is moving toward online delivery, a medium where the major challenge remains offering pragmatic and enriching laboratory experiences to remote learners. This challenge may be addressed through direct simulation, remote control, online observation, and/or remote hands-on laboratories. Among the options, hands-on remote laboratories demonstrate benefits in students’ learning outcome achievement as compared to the other online options and even brick-and-mortar equivalents. This work showcases a hands-on fluids teaching lab kit designed to be shipped to students taking lab-intensive engineering fluids courses remotely.

The kit, which ships in a 41-quart Rubbermaid container, includes a 100-mm-diameter circular wind tunnel capable of producing undeveloped and fully developed velocity profiles in both laminar and turbulent regimes. These features are achieved through a variable-speed computer fan driving airflow through half-meter-long pipe sections coupled to achieve desired tunnel length. Velocity profiles are observed by rastering a pitot-static probe across the pipe’s open end while measuring local pressure differential.

This modular kit is capable of multiple unique experiments: 1) producing textbook laminar and turbulent velocity profiles, 2) showing axial velocity profile development, 3) determining boundary layer thickness, 4) measuring flow drag coefficient on a sphere, 5) validating velocity profile integration by measuring mean velocity, 6) measuring the profile shape impact of adding screens or honeycomb downstream of the fan, and 7) exploring the fan speed to flow rate relationship – at least seven unique experiments in one kit! Modular kits allow experiments to be tailored by instructors to target student needs and toward achieving course learning outcomes.

The kit allows for engineering distance learning that reinforces a range of fluids theory, particularly visualizing velocity profiles, which is often difficult for undergraduates. It also provides students pragmatic experience using common lab instrumentation and techniques: pitot-static probes, differential pressure gages, barometers, and flow visualization. The mailed hands-on kit teaching approach fills a pragmatic need toward realizing a fully-online ABET-accredited mechanical engineering bachelor’s degree program.

Jones, N. T., & Niemi, S. R., & Traum, M. J. (2021, July), A Hands-on Learning Module Pipe-flow Velocity Profile Interrogator Laboratory Kit for Remote Online Fluid Mechanics Instruction Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36585

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