June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies
22.92.1 - 22.92.21
A Relevant, Automotive-Themed Experiment that Teaches Fundamental Flow Rate Concepts and Experimental UncertaintyIt is a common experience, in undergraduate laboratories, that the students perceivethe simple bench-top experiments to be boring or irrelevant to real engineering andsocietal problems. Without relevance, many students feel disconnected from thelab experience and do not think while they are in the lab. If a student does notthink about the actual measurement, the measurement errors and how themeasurements relate to an engineering model or to the information that they aretrying to gain, then the lab experience has failed.Described in this paper is an experiment designed for an introductory thermalscience lab. The students are tasked with the job of calibrating one or moreautomotive fuel injectors, across a reasonable vehicle fuel demand schedule. Inorder to achieve an accurate injector calibration, the students must learn thefundamental concept of volumetric flow rate and the applied mathematicalconcepts associated with experimental uncertainty. They must apply what theyhave learned to design their test procedure and then conduct and validate thecalibration. In addition, they will learn the purpose and function of an automotivefuel injector, and how the injector timing parameters can be used to match a typicalengine fuel demand schedule – the relevance component.This paper also describes the design and construction of a safe and inexpensiveapparatus, which uses automotive fuel injectors and a simple microprocessor boardfor control. An example of the actual laboratory handout with student results isgiven, along with some suggestions for semester-to-semester variety.
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