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Active Learning Based Laboratory For Introductory Thermodynamics Course

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.155.1 - 11.155.9



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Paper Authors


Mahmoud Ardebili Borough of Manhattan Community College/CUNY

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Mahmoud Ardebili, Ph.D., PE. is Associate Professor and Coordinator of Engineering Science Program at Borough of Manhattan Community College/City University of New York. He teaches Engineering Graphics, Thermodynamics, and Freshman Design classes. His research interests include computational fluid dynamics, alternatively fueled vehicles and engineering education.

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

Active-Learning Based Laboratory for Introductory Thermodynamics


This paper describes a laboratory component for a sophomore level introductory engineering thermodynamics course. The class is core component of the Engineering Science curriculum at Borough of Manhattan Community College. The introduction of the lab is part of a greater curricular modification to invigorate engineering education at BMCC by integrating real world situations and active-learning based instructions into classroom. Thermodynamics is an abstract subject. Many students lack first hand experience with the subject matter. They resort to memorization rather than gaining analytical understanding of concepts. The Lab component is designed to create an opportunity for students to accumulate experiential learning and gain problem-solving skills.

The lab consists of six modules: Real Time Measurements, Hand Cranked Generator and Calorimeter, Piston/Cylinder Device Gas Heat Engine, Propane Fueled Steam Rankin Cycle, Refrigeration/Air Conditioner Cycle, and Natural Gas Fueled Internal Combustion Engine. The lab component allows students to gain an overall knowledge of instrumentation of thermal systems, and the relationship between theoretical and physical systems. It also promotes teamwork and communication between students, particularly, in data collection, analysis and report preparation. Groups of 3 to 4 students work together on each project and prepare report.


It is well known that students learn and retain more as they become more engaged with instructional materials. Reisman and Carr1 concluded that students learn 20% of the material taught by hearing, 40% by seeing and hearing, and 75% by seeing, hearing, and doing. Furthermore, people learn concepts and skills better when sharing in teams than working in isolation. Thus, most of newer educational approaches emphasize active learning by students, in which instructors move from being lecturers to coaches. The laboratory is an ideal setting to introduce such hands-on activities where students can learn by experiencing. The physical devices and simulations used in the laboratory provide active experiences for the students, allowing them to make parametric adjustments, observe the effects in related thermodynamics variables, and reflect upon key concepts of the course 2.

Class Objectives

The Engineering science program at Borough of Manhattan Community College offers ESC 211, a sophomore year introductory thermodynamics course. The class learning

Ardebili, M. (2006, June), Active Learning Based Laboratory For Introductory Thermodynamics Course Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--392

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