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A Remote Access Laboratory for Fluids Education in Mechanical Engineering

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Best Paper Presentations

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.96.1 - 26.96.7



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Paper Authors

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Gwen Elizabeth Ellis


Cecilia Dianne Richards Washington State University

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Dr. Cecilia Richards is a professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Washington State University. Dr. Richards received her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the University of British Columbia, Canada. She earned her Ph.D. in Engineering from the University of California at Irvine. She has authored over 100 technical papers and proceedings and holds two patents. She has supervised the research of 26 graduate students.

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Brad R. Thompson Washington State University

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Brad R. Thompson, Ph. D., Lt Col (USAF retired), is a Clinical Professor and the Program Coordinator and person responsible for the initial stand up of the Washington State University Mechanical Engineering program at Everett, Washington. He received an A.S. in Aircrew Operations from the Community College of the Air Force, a B.S.E. in Mechanical Engineering from Arizona State University, a M.S. in Astronautical Engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology, and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from University of Washington. He has worked in a variety of engineering positions including logistics engineering, developmental engineering, and space operations, and had assignments at the Air Force Research Lab and the Air Force Academy. As director of the U.S. Air Force Academy Aeronautics Laboratory he oversaw $1.5 million a year of undergraduate research. His current interests include connecting academic resources with industry needs to enable people and businesses with tools to promote economic growth.

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Robert F. Richards Washington State University

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Dr. Robert Richards received the Ph.D. in Engineering from the University of California, Irvine. He then worked in the Building and Fire Research Laboratory at NIST as a Post-Doctoral Researcher before joining the faculty of the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Washington State University. His research is in thermodynamics and heat and mass transfer. Over the last five years he has become involved in developing and disseminating research based learning methods. He was a participant in the NSF Virtual Communities of Practice (VCP) program in Spring, 2013, learning research based methods to instruct thermodynamics. More recently he introduced the concept of fabricating very low cost thermal fluid experiments using 3-D printing and vacuum forming at the National Academy of Engineering’s Frontiers of Engineering Education in October, 2013. He is presently a co PI on the NSF IUSE: Affordable Desktop Learning Modules to Facilitate Transformation in Undergrad¬uate Engineering Classes, High School Recruitment and Retention.

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A Remote Access Laboratory for Fluids Education in Mechanical Engineering The purpose of this research was to develop a teaching module specifically for distanceeducation that would strengthen student understanding of flow through a venturi. An experimentwith web based control of and data acquisition from a model venturi nozzle was developed andimplemented into junior level engineering classes. The intended use was for distance educationby both instructors and students at satellite campuses. Instructors of lecture courses can use theexperiment to bring demonstrations of real devices and active learning assignments intoclassrooms remote from laboratory facilities. The method employed in the research depended onthe integration of the remote venturi nozzle experiment into two classes and assessment oflearning outcomes via Pre and Post Testing and student survey. The web-based venturi nozzleexperiment was implemented first in a junior level fluid mechanics course, as an active learningexercise concerning Bernoulli’s equation. In this class the instructor ran the web-basedexperiment. A pre assessment quiz was given to students after a lecture on Bernoulli’s equationbut before running the online experiment. A post assessment quiz followed the active learningsession with the remote lab. The experiment was then used in a junior level laboratory course, inwhich a small group of students ran the web-based experiment themselves. A survey was usedto assess the outcome of the experiment by the pilot group. Two major conclusions can be drawnfrom the implementation of the web-based lab. First, the pre and post test indicated that studentsshowed significant improvement in conceptual understanding after exposure to the web-basedlab in the junior fluid mechanics course. Second, the student survey indicated that only minoroperational changes were needed for students to successfully operate the web-based lab. The labis now being operated remotely by students at a satellite campus as part of their juniorinstrumentation course. Assessment of learning outcomes achieved by remote users compared tohands-on users is performed through analysis of laboratory reports.  

Ellis, G. E., & Richards, C. D., & Thompson, B. R., & Richards, R. F. (2015, June), A Remote Access Laboratory for Fluids Education in Mechanical Engineering Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23437

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