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Application Of The Studio Model To Teaching Heat Transfer

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.197.1 - 6.197.8



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Paper Authors

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Robert Ribando

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Gerald O'Leary

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Timothy Scott

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Application of the Studio Model to Teaching Heat Transfer Robert J. Ribando, Timothy C. Scott, Gerald W. O’Leary University of Virginia


Over the past five years we have transformed our undergraduate heat transfer course from a strictly lecture format (with an associated lab the following semester) by replacing one lecture a week with a two-hour “studio” session. These sessions are held in a classroom equipped with a computer for each pair of students. Much of the studio work revolves around a set of locally developed, research-based numerical algorithms that solve in real time the governing ordinary and partial-differential equations describing heat and fluid flow. Several of the modules may be considered “virtual” laboratories, that is, they allow students to take data from the computer screen for post-processing  much as if they were working in a real, extremely well-equipped laboratory. Others give the option of performing dozens of "what if” calculations rapidly, thus inviting their use in the design process. Some merely replace the table and chart lookups that are so commonly used in the study and practice of heat transfer. In the studio projects, students are exposed to modern computational techniques while seeing them applied to fundamental problems. With the complete field solution available from the numerical model and not just a “bottom-line” result, most of the modules are designed to be visually rich, and thus allow the students to understand the physics behind the often-confusing convection correlations. Since many of the problems we work on do have analytical solutions, they gain experience in the verification of results. In several projects students are exposed to spreadsheet programming using macros. For a number of these modules we have developed an accompanying desktop experiment to enhance still further the hands-on nature of the studio and to allow comparison with our numerical models.


In recent years we have transformed our undergraduate heat transfer course from a lecture course (with an associated thermal sciences laboratory the following semester) to include what we call a “studio” session. The latter, a two-hour “hands-on” session held in a room containing a computer for each pair of students, supplements the two lectures each week that are held in a room having a computer and projection system just for the instructor. Much of the studio session centers on a set of modules that we have developed locally for use in our undergraduate and graduate heat transfer courses. While it would probably be possible to take the next step and teach this entire course in the “studio” mode, as has been done in many courses at RPI and several other universities [1- 4], we have not taken so drastic a step as yet.

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Ribando, R., & O'Leary, G., & Scott, T. (2001, June), Application Of The Studio Model To Teaching Heat Transfer Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--8908

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