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Alternative Approaches To Teaching Extended Surface Heat Transfer

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Advancing Thermal Science Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.174.1 - 8.174.19



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Paper Authors

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Joseph Schroeder

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Figen Lacin

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Craig Somerton

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

Session 1333

Alternative Approaches to Teaching Extended Surface Heat Transfer

Craig W. Somerton, Joseph B. Schroeder, Figen Lacin, and Ryan Harrier Michigan State University/ Olivet Nazarene University/ Michigan State University

Introduction Extended surface heat transfer is a topic that is always covered in a standard undergraduate class in heat transfer. In fact, we tell our students that fins are one of the two heat transfer systems that they will most likely encounter as practicing mechanical engineers (the other being heat exchangers). Therefore, it becomes clear that the mechanical engineering student needs to have a firm foundation in the physical aspects of extended surface heat transfer, and an understanding of the mathematical models available for the required calculations.

Two tools have been developed to facilitate the students’ learning in these directions. The first tool consists of a set of physical models of the different types of fins. This allows the students to get a “hands-on” feel for fins. It is particularly useful for students whose primary learning style is kinesthetic. The second tool is an excel spreadsheet that calculates the standard fin parameters and presents the temperature distribution for a variety of fins using the three standard boundary conditions at the fin tip: adiabatic, convective, and tip at fluid temperature. A calculation option that is available to the user will determine the number of fins in an array that is required to provide a specified heat transfer rate requirement (may be heating or cooling). This option allows the students to perform some simple design studies and compare the performance of different fin types (for example rectangular versus triangular) and arrangements, including the tradeoffs in length, thickness, and orientation. For visual learners, the spreadsheet also includes a photograph of the physical model and a diagram relating the geometric parameters for each type of fin geometry.

These tools have been used in heat transfer classes at both Olivet Nazarene University and Michigan State University. At Olivet Nazarene the spreadsheet was used as a virtual design lab activity, while at Michigan State the spreadsheet was used as an extended homework assignment.

This paper continues with the development of the physical models. The corresponding mathematical models and the Excel spreadsheet are then presented. Next, the assignments for both classes are discussed along with results of student surveys on the tools and assignments. Final remarks conclude the paper.

Physical Background and Models Fins are used to enhance the heat transfer to or from a surface by increasing the surface area. To introduce this idea to students, the following scenario is proposed to them. Consider a computer circuit board that contains electronic components producing heat through I2R heating. To ensure proper operation and eliminate short lifetimes, the board must be maintained at a specified

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Schroeder, J., & Lacin, F., & Somerton, C. (2003, June), Alternative Approaches To Teaching Extended Surface Heat Transfer Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12299

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