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A Naval Hydrodynamics Undergraduate Curriculum for the Midwestern United States

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Ocean and Marine Division Technical Session 2

Tagged Division

Ocean and Marine

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Paper Authors


James Buchholz University of Iowa Orcid 16x16

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James Buchholz is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Iowa. He received the Bachelors and Masters degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Alberta, and the Ph.D. degree in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from Princeton University. He teaches courses in fluid mechanics and conducts research in unsteady aerodynamics and hydrodynamics.

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Pablo M. Carrica University of Iowa

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P. M. Carrica is a professor with the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at The University of Iowa. He teaches courses in the area of fluid mechanics, and is an active researcher in hydrodynamics of surface and underwater vehicles, working on bubbly wakes, cavitation and maneuvering and seakeeping. His research team develops the computational naval hydrodynamics code REX.

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Jae-Eun Russell University of Iowa

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Dr. Russell serves as the Associate Director for the Office of Teaching, Learning & Technology at the University of Iowa. She completed her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Iowa. Her research focus examined instructional practices that support successful student learning. Her research also involves autonomous motivation, self-regulated learning, technology adoption, and learning analytics adoption.

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A naval hydrodynamics curriculum was developed within the Mechanical Engineering undergraduate program at the University of Iowa, to complement a long history of graduate research in naval hydrodynamics. The curriculum is organized into a certificate program designed to enhance students’ understanding of naval science and technology challenges, to inform students of potential career paths in or in support of the U.S. Navy, and to provide students with a firm foundation in basic concepts of naval hydrodynamics, fluid dynamics, and related experimental and computational techniques. A significant challenge is to provide students with this comprehensive background through existing and new elective courses using limited faculty resources. The Mechanical Engineering undergraduate program has not historically supported naval and marine engineering industries, and undergraduates usually do not arrive with career plans in those industries. It is therefore particularly important to the vitality of the certificate that students achieve depth in the fundamentals to ensure transferability and thus mitigate risk in students’ career planning.

Two new courses formed the foundation of the curriculum: computational and experimental naval hydrodynamics. Central to our approach in both courses was the use of complex open-ended projects employing either a proprietary naval hydrodynamics flow solver or advanced measurements in a small towing tank designed for the curriculum. Projects were structured such that students wrestle with complicated tasks that included computational model and grid generation, setup of simulations, data interpretation, uncertainty analysis, and application of advanced experimental measurement techniques such as particle image velocimetry, in order to help them develop maturity and independence in their analysis of naval hydrodynamics problems. Further, to support collaborative learning processes, class meetings consisted of frequent small group lab sessions along with lecture sessions. Both courses utilized an online forum to share knowledge and skills outside of class and provided frequent formative assessments for students to monitor their learning process to build desired skills. Both courses also provided an opportunity to interact with Navy personnel to bridge classroom learning with Navy real-world challenges.

A study was conducted to assess students’ perceptions of their competencies and learning experiences. In particular, it examined how different instructional components contributed to a positive learning experience and desired learning outcomes. 20 students from the two courses participated in the study, including four under-represented minorities and three first-generation students. A survey was administered at the end of the semester, in each course, and students’ demographic information and learning outcomes were collected after the semester was over. Students’ perceptions of achieved competency were solid; students’ assessments of their learning in the areas of fluid mechanics fundamentals, experimental, and computational methods were generally above 6 on a 7-point scale. Among instructional strategies, students reported that projects and homework using tools (e.g., the flow solver and towing tank) and the canonical models (SUBOFF, KCS, and propellers), and working in a team were the most helpful to their learning, whereas an online forum and interactions with Navy personnel, neutral. Overall, students’ perception of these courses were positive but challenging.

Buchholz, J., & Carrica, P. M., & Russell, J. (2018, June), A Naval Hydrodynamics Undergraduate Curriculum for the Midwestern United States Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--29705

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