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A New Design Of Thermal Fluid Systems Elective: Description, Observations, And Experiences

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Thermodynamics and Fluid Mechanics Instruction

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.81.1 - 11.81.10



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Paper Authors


Donald Mueller Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne

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DON MUELLER is an Assistant Professor of Engineering at Indiana University--Purdue University Fort Wayne, in Fort Wayne, IN. He received his BS, MS, and PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Missouri--Rolla. His teaching interests are in the areas of thermal-fluid sciences and numerical methods.

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

A New Design of Thermal-Fluid Systems Elective: Description, Observations, and Experiences


The purpose of this paper is to describe a new technical elective course in the thermal-fluid sciences, entitled Design and Optimization of Thermal-Fluid Systems. This course involves the application of the principles of thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and heat transfer to the design of thermal systems with an emphasis on modeling, simulation, economic analysis, and optimization. Unique course activities and student learning outcomes are presented. Several textbooks and software tools that might be used in the course are also discussed.


A new technical elective in the thermal-fluid sciences, entitled Design and Optimization of Thermal-Fluid Systems, has been developed at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) in order to address several issues. First, mechanical engineering students at IPFW have expressed a desire for technical electives of a more practical nature. Most of the technical electives offered at IPFW are more traditional courses such as Intermediate Heat Transfer, Vibrations, and the Finite Element Method—this new technical elective allows to students to apply material learned in other courses to more realistic engineering situations, often involving engineering systems. Second, in 2004, the mechanical engineering students' performance in the areas of engineering economics and energy conversion on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Exam was slightly below the national average. As part of the engineering department's assessment process, the FE Exam is one of the measures that is used to assess whether or not the program outcomes are being achieved. This new course arose, in part, as an attempt to correct deficiencies identified by student scores on the FE Exam in the areas of engineering economics and energy conversion. Finally, some of the desired ABET program outcomes are difficult to develop in students with traditional, required courses. A technical elective, such as Design and Optimization of Thermal-Fluid Systems, presents opportunities for interesting, high-quality activities that can be used to develop these important abilities in students.

A thermal-fluid design elective is not necessarily new, and several excellent texts, see e.g. Refs. [1]-[5], have been written on this topic. However, one characteristic of these texts is that the material coverage is not uniform, and when developing an elective course like Design and Optimization of Thermal-Fluid Systems, choices must be made as to what material to cover and what approach to take, i.e. more analytical vs. more practical. This paper first provides a general description of this new technical elective course. Then several of the more common textbooks and software tools are compared. Next, the content and approach of the new course are reported, along with the experiences of the instructor and students. Of note is how some of the unique course activities relate to specific ABET program outcomes that are difficult integrate into traditional, required courses.

Mueller, D. (2006, June), A New Design Of Thermal Fluid Systems Elective: Description, Observations, And Experiences Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--579

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