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A Problem Based Learning Method For Teaching Thermal Systems Design

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1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.36.1 - 2.36.6



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Paper Authors

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Lang-Wah Lee

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Tamer Ceylan

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A Problem-Based Learning Method for Teaching Thermal Systems Design

Lang-Wah Lee and Tamer Ceylan

Professors, Department of Mechanical/Industrial Engineering University of Wisconsin-Platteville, Platteville, WI 53818

Telephone #: (608) 342-1437; (608) 342-1367 Fax: (608) 342-1566 E-mail:;


Most design courses in ABET accredited mechanical engineering programs contain two components - a lecture component and a design component. The lecture is to teach specific concepts and principles and the design is to develop the student's decision making skills based on the application of engineering principles. Faculty members teaching these courses are often confronted with the challenge of integrating these two components to help students learn the subject in the most effective manner. In the past ten years, the authors have tried several methods to achieve such a goal and found that a problem-based learning (PBL) [1] is a very promising method to address the problem. This method is in essence a guided design process which mixes student- centered learning with a structured course syllabus. This paper is to discuss how PBL is used in teaching the Thermal Systems Design course.

Thermal Systems Design is a required 3-credit hour course in our Mechanical Engineering curriculum. The course is for senior students after they have completed Thermodynamics, Fluid Dynamics, Applied Thermodynamics, and Heat Transfer. Two-thirds of the course is designated as engineering design and one-third as engineering science. The class meets four hours per week with two hours for lectures and two hours for discussions. The main objective of the course is to apply basic principles in thermo- fluid area and design methodology to design energy systems.

The lecture component of the course is to teach certain new topics not covered in traditional thermal science courses but important to the design of thermal systems. These topics include piping systems design, heat exchanger design, pumping system

Lee, L., & Ceylan, T. (1997, June), A Problem Based Learning Method For Teaching Thermal Systems Design Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 10.18260/1-2--6742

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