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An Introduction Of Cfd Into The Undergraduate Engineering Program

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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

5.102.1 - 5.102.10



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Robert E. Spall

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Christine E. Hailey

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Session 1566

An Introduction of CFD into the Undergraduate Engineering Program

Christine E. Hailey, Robert E. Spall Utah State University


Advances in the performance of personal computers and workstations, as well as improved commercial solvers, permit computational fluid dynamics (CFD) codes routinely be used in industry which requires undergraduate students have some exposure to CFD prior to graduation. In the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at Utah State University, some fundamental concepts of CFD are introduced in the junior-level fluid mechanics course. Concepts of mesh design on solution accuracy and the influence of solver parameters such as relaxation are introduced using an in-house CFD code written primarily for undergraduate students. Three goals are met through the junior-level experience: 1) to improve the students understanding of basic fluid mechanics, 2) to motivate students to take a CFD elective course in their senior year, and 3) to provide a basic exposure for students who use CFD tools during their summer internship programs. In the senior year, students are exposed to commercial solvers and the use of CFD as a design tool in elective courses such as heating, ventilation and air conditioning. Senior-level students can also take an elective course in CFD which combines the application of commercial solvers and code development experiences.

1. Introduction

In the 1980's, the use of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) was dominated by government and academic entities; users typically had many years of relevant training. Over the last decade, however, the ever-increasing performance/price ratio of personal computers and workstations coupled with improvements in commercial codes has lead to the widespread adoption of CFD techniques for research, development and design tasks in industry. However, industry is currently faced with the difficult task of finding engineers skilled in the use of CFD.

In response to this need, integration of CFD into both the graduate and undergraduate engineering education is appropriate. Incorporation of CFD into a graduate curriculum is not a new proposal. However, introducing CFD topics in undergraduate courses as well as teaching a senior-level CFD course is fairly limited. The results of several years of study on the role of CFD in undergraduate education at Penn State-Behrend indicate CFD is best used in senior design projects and research projects.1 Average undergraduate students struggle with concepts like solving differential equations and boundary conditions. Consequently, the Penn State- Behrend faculty found that teaching CFD to undergraduates was not an easy task. Recently,

Spall, R. E., & Hailey, C. E. (2000, June), An Introduction Of Cfd Into The Undergraduate Engineering Program Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri. 10.18260/1-2--8512

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