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An Integrated Thermal And Fluids Curriculum

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2000 Annual Conference


St. Louis, Missouri

Publication Date

June 18, 2000

Start Date

June 18, 2000

End Date

June 21, 2000



Page Count


Page Numbers

5.98.1 - 5.98.8



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Paper Authors

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Farrukh Alvi

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Chiang Shih

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Session 1566

An Integrated Thermal and Fluids Curriculum

Chiang Shih, Farrukh Alvi Department of Mechanical Engineering FAMU-FSU College of Engineering Florida A&M University and Florida State University


This paper presents the efforts made in our department in implementing an integrated Mechanical Engineering core curriculum, in particular, our first-year experience in the teaching of the integrated thermal and fluids courses. In the traditional curriculum, the study of thermal sciences is categorized into three major subject areas: thermodynamics, heat transfer and fluid mechanics, where they are usually taught as separate entities over three or more semesters. This approach is pedagogically convenient but not necessarily effective since it creates the false impression among the students that the analysis of a thermal system is simply a combination of several loosely related disciplines. The newly designed thermal course-sequence is designed to correct this deficiency by integrating these subjects into a single two-semester course sequence to provide students with a coherent understanding of a complete thermal system. A parallel effort is also underway to combine the traditional thermal and fluid laboratory course into the integrated thermal course. In addition to the emphasis on the introduction of experimental techniques, data analysis methods and enhancement of oral and written communication skills, the new laboratory course will be taught at the same time with the thermal fluids course thus providing the “just-in-time” hands-on experience for students. In summary, our endeavor experience with this wholesale curriculum renovation, including difficulties encountered and suggestions for future improvements, will be discussed in detail.

1. Introduction

As we are entering the 21st century, the traditional methodology for teaching engineering is being scrutinized as to whether it can effectively produce competent engineers who can handle the many challenges brought upon by the multiplying, interrelated-technologies and global competition. It is generally agreed that in the future engineers need to have a comprehensive knowledge base to tackle complex, multidisciplinary assignments. Unfortunately, the current engineering education has often failed in this aspect and that is why the National Science Foundation (NSF) has cooperated with several universities1 to establish pilot programs to devise plans to implement a wholesale renovation of the engineering education.

Among many concepts, NSF has identified “Engineering Curriculum Integration” as one of the most promising innovations2,3. It is proposed that new engineering curricula should teach the connectivity of relevant engineering subjects and emphasize their relationship to practical engineering processes. Positive results from schools experimenting with the integrated curricula,

Alvi, F., & Shih, C. (2000, June), An Integrated Thermal And Fluids Curriculum Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri. 10.18260/1-2--8470

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