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Assessment of Implementing an Undergraduate Integrated Thermal-Fluids Course Sequence on the Results of the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam (FEE)

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Thermodynamics, Fluids, and Heat Transfer I

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Richard V. Melnyk United States Military Academy Orcid 16x16

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LTC Rich Melnyk is an Army Aviator and Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering at the United States Military Academy, West Point. He developed and implemented the first course offering of Thermal-Fluid Systems I in 2005. He was an Instructor and Assistant Professor from 2004-2007 and returned to teaching in 2015. He has a PhD in Aerospace Engineering, a PE in Mechanical Engineering, an MBA in Technology Management and recently commanded a Battalion at Hunter Army Airfield, Savannah, Georgia.

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William Clarence Pyant III United States Military Academy

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Major William Pyant III is an Instructor in the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering at the United States Military Academy, West Point, NY. He received his B.S. from the United States Military Academy and his M.S. in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Purdue University. His research interests include orbital mechanics, optimization in aerospace systems, and engineering education.

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Daisie D. Boettner P.E. United States Military Academy

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Colonel Daisie Boettner graduated from West Point in 1981 with a Bachelor of Science degree. She earned a Master of Science in Engineering (Mechanical Engineering) from the University of Michigan in 1991 and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from The Ohio State University in 2001. She has taught courses in thermal-fluid systems, heat transfer, and design. She is currently Professor and Head of the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering, United States Military Academy, West Point, NY.

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Daniel Richard Brown

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Captain Daniel R. Brown is a Senior Army Aviator qualified in four Army aircraft. CPT Brown graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering in 2006. Upon finishing Command of an Air Cavalry Troop in 2012, CPT Brown started graduate school at the University of Maryland. He completed his M.S. in Aerospace Engineering under thesis advisor Dr. Roberto Celi in 2014. CPT Brown has taught and served as Course Director for both MC311 (Thermal-Fluid Systems I) and MC312 (Thermal-Fluid Systems II) for the USMA Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering. He also has served as pilot for the department's airplane and helicopter in-flight laboratories.

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In 2005 the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering implemented a two course Thermal-Fluids Engineering sequence that replaced the traditional courses in Thermodynamics and Fluid Mechanics. This change and the case study approach to the new courses was documented in an ASEE conference paper at the time.

There were two primary factors that led to this shift. Internally, the department saw an opportunity to gain efficiencies by teaching concepts such as energy and losses that are common across both disciplines in a more integrated manner. This efficiency would then allow Mechanical Engineering majors to explore other topics in more detail. In addition, other engineering departments, who previously took both Thermodynamics and Fluid Mechanics, expressed a desire to reduce that course requirement to one course while sustaining enough content in both disciplines to pass the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam (FEE).

The purpose of this paper is to assess the results of this change in course structure in the ten years that have passed since making this change. The results of FEE pass rates for engineering majors who only take the first in the two thermal-fluids courses will be compared before and after the shift and to national averages to explore if the reduction in overall content affected these students’ ability to pass the FEE. In addition, the subject pass rate for those programs that take both thermal-fluids courses on the Thermodynamics and Fluid Mechanics sections will be examined to determine if changing the way the content was presented, affected their ability to pass those particular subjects.

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