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A Proposed Vehicle For Delivering A Mechanical Engineering Systems Laboratory Experience

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.40.1 - 3.40.6

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Paper Authors

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Kenneth Miller

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Jeffrey Morehouse

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Edward Young

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David Rocheleau

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Jed S. Lyons

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

Trends in Mechanical Engineering 2266

A Proposed Vehicle for Delivering a Mechanical Engineering Systems Laboratory Experience Jed Lyons, Jeffrey Morehouse, David Rocheleau, Edward Young, and Kenneth Miller Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of South Carolina

ABSTRACT The practice of mechanical engineering requires the ability to investigate and analyze complex thermal and mechanical systems. An effective way for the students to develop their understanding of mechanical engineering systems is for them to get hands-on experience by working in small groups in a laboratory environment. This paper describes a plan to develop a unique capstone laboratory course that provides this experience. The course, Engineering Systems Laboratory will be based upon an integrated sequence of laboratory experiments on an automobile and its subsystems. The automobile is chosen as the system to study because it is compact, relatively inexpensive and in the direct realm of experience of most students. More importantly, its many complex subsystems provide opportunities for the students to apply the spectrum of their mechanical engineering knowledge, including the principles of mechanics, dynamics, thermodynamics, heat transfer, and controls.

INTRODUCTION An integral part of the undergraduate mechanical engineering curricula at the University of South Carolina is sequence of four mechanical engineering laboratory courses: Measurements and Instrumentation, Engineering Materials, Fundamentals of Microprocessors, and Senior Laboratory. Senior Lab is a two-credit hour course consisting of one hour of lecture and three hours of lab each week. Laboratories are offered to sections of about eight students. Currently, it is a good class, but not a great class. The existing experiments were selected primarily to support upper-level mechanical engineering courses, and include Psychrometric Study Of Conditioned Air, Air Conditioner COP As Function Of Condenser Temperature, Transient Heat Conduction, Heat Transfer To Circular Cylinder In Cross Flow, Hydraulic And Energy Grade Line, Internal Combustion Engine Performance, Parallel And Counterflow Heat Exchanger Performance, Wind Tunnel Experimentation NACA 4418 Airfoil Section, Vibration Of A Cantilever Beam, Fracture Mechanics Experiment, and the Hydraulic Trainer.

The major drawback of the existing laboratory experience is that the experiments themselves are not directly related to one another. Further, the existing lab equipment is suitable for students to gain insight into various engineering principles, but most items support one experiment only. The result is a large number of relatively expensive items which must be maintained, that occupy laboratory space, yet are used only once a semester. Because the students go from one unrelated experiment to another throughout the semester, they do not have the opportunity to develop the “system level” perspective necessary to analyze and understand complex thermal and mechanical systems. Further, with the current equipment, the experiments are “set-up” for the students and do not require any design of the experiment, or much in the way of instrumentation installation.


Miller, K., & Morehouse, J., & Young, E., & Rocheleau, D., & Lyons, J. S. (1998, June), A Proposed Vehicle For Delivering A Mechanical Engineering Systems Laboratory Experience Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington.

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