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A Team Oriented, Project Based Approach For Undergraduate Heat Transfer Instruction

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.119.1 - 6.119.10



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Paper Authors

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Ty Newell

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Timothy Shedd

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


A Team-Oriented, Project-Based Approach for Undergraduate Heat Transfer Instruction Ty Newell, Timothy Shedd University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


This is an exciting time in engineering education. Engineering classrooms are changing with the rapid development of new technologies and analysis tools, the desire for team-based activities by industry, and recognition by engineering educators of the value of cooperative and active learning methods.

The purpose of this paper is to describe a classroom “experiment” with the goal of converting a conventional textbook class (undergraduate heat transfer) into a team-based course that relies heavily on active learning. The class consisted of 46 students, primarily second semester juniors in mechanical engineering, formed into 12 teams of consisting of 3 to 4 people per team. Major projects were assigned as a means to guide students through the primary topics covered by an undergraduate heat transfer course. Overall, feedback from students was very positive.

In addition to changing the organizational structure of the class, the course implemented numerical problem solving techniques throughout the class with classical solution techniques used for validation of the numerical problem solving techniques. The numerical approach is based on the development of simple finite difference numerical techniques in a spreadsheet format. A series of five projects were defined that covered most of the primary topics of an undergraduate heat transfer course. Formal lectures were reduced to approximately half that of a typical class with most lectures devoted to an introduction to assigned project and homework activities, or to cover those topics not incorporated into project activities. Remaining classroom time was used for direct interaction with groups as they encountered problems in their assignment activities.

Project-Based Thermal Science Courses

Thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and heat transfer form the foundation of undergraduate curricula in the thermal science area. Firm establishment of this foundation is important for students to progress into elective and advanced thermal science courses. These classes also make important links to students’ earlier activities in other classes, such as physics and mathematics.

The team-based, project approach for heat transfer described in this paper is one that the authors feel can be transferred to an undergraduate fluid mechanics course. Implementation of some level of project activity (and certainly some teamwork) into an undergraduate thermodynamics course may also be undertaken, however, the nature of an initial course in thermodynamics is different than heat transfer and fluid mechanics courses.

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright 2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Newell, T., & Shedd, T. (2001, June), A Team Oriented, Project Based Approach For Undergraduate Heat Transfer Instruction Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9887

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