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An Efficient Way To Increase The Engineering Student’s Fundamental Understanding Of Thermodynamics By Utilizing Interactive Web Based Animation Software

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Computational Tools and Simulation III

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.146.1 - 15.146.12



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Paper Authors


Richard Stanley Kettering University

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Dr. Richard Stanley has been a faculty member of the Mechanical Engineering Department at Kettering University (Flint, MI) since July of 1999, where he holds the rank of Associate Professor. He earned his BSME from The University of Michigan in 1990, his MSME from Wayne State University in 1996, and his Ph.D. from Wayne State University in 1998. His primary interest is to develop web-based internet animation software, which can be used to enhance the engineering student’s understanding of mechanics principles. He is also the karate and jiu-jitzu instructor at Kettering University, where he incorporates many of the martial arts principles and methods in the classroom.

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Gianfranco DiGiuseppe Kettering University

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Professor DiGiuseppe joined Kettering University in 2005 and now teaches in the Mechanical Engineering Department. His teaching interests are in Thermodynamics, Fluid Dynamics, Heat Transfer, and fuel cell courses. His research interests are in fuel cells and batteries with an emphasis on Solid Oxide Fuel Cells with over 15 years of experience. He is responsible for Kettering's Solid Oxide Fuel Cell research facility and is focused on research related to improved cell durability, improved thermal management, geometric optimization for increased power density, and to develop more robust cell designs that are less sensitive to operating environments.

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

An Efficient Way to Increase the Engineering Student’s Fundamental Understanding of Thermodynamics by Utilizing Interactive Web Based Animation Software Animation software for an introductory Thermodynamics course has been developed, which is intended to be part of the WileyPLUS platform (John Wiley and Sons, Inc.). This interactive software is unique because each animation is directly linked to a homework problem and no programming is required of the user. The animations are web- based (hard-coded in Adobe® Flash Action Script), so no external computer programs are needed.

This software is visually similar to web-based Dynamics software, which has been developed by the principal author of this publication. The Dynamics software has been explained and assessed in several previous ASEE conference proceedings and journal articles.

In this paper, the software functionality will be detailed. The results of student surveys will be analyzed and the pedagogical advantages will be evaluated.

1.0 Introduction

In typical Thermodynamics courses, most homework problems require the student to solve for a specific entity, which may be a property (temperature, pressure, specific volume, etc.), energy (heat transfer or work), efficiency, etc. The professor typically assigns a set of homework problems and the students solve each problem by hand. The student knows that his or her calculations are correct by checking answers in the back of the book.

Thermodynamics problems are often time-based. For instance, a student may be asked to solve for the work and/or heat transfer of a process that begins at known state #1 and ends at known state #2. In reality, though, the work and heat transfer vary with time as the system moves from state #1 to state #2. This dynamic nature of many Thermodynamics problems is probably lost in the traditional classroom. It is the authors’ opinion that computer animations are necessary in order for the students to fully understand the transient nature of the subject of Thermodynamics.

Numerous commercial thermodynamics packages are available, many of which may be found at the website “Process Register”1. Most of these packages are used as standalone applications and are not developed specifically for educational purposes. For educational purposes, several animation programs have been developed in the recent past2,3,4,5,6. While these programs provide animations and have useful tools, the animations are not directly linked directly to homework problems of texts.

Several papers have been published by the principal author in the past, which describe web-based animations software for Dynamics7,8,9,10,11,12. The same “look and feel” has

Stanley, R., & DiGiuseppe, G. (2010, June), An Efficient Way To Increase The Engineering Student’s Fundamental Understanding Of Thermodynamics By Utilizing Interactive Web Based Animation Software Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16918

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2010 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015