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BYOE: Making Connections between Fluid Mechanics and Abstract Painting

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2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Minneapolis, MN

Publication Date

August 23, 2022

Start Date

June 26, 2022

End Date

June 29, 2022

Conference Session

Experimentation and Laboratory-Oriented Studies Division Technical Session 3: Best of ELOS

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Paper Authors


Thomas Shepard University of St. Thomas

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Dr. Shepard is an associate professor of mechanical engineering at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN. He is actively engaged in experimental fluid mechanics research as well as engineering education studies with an emphasis on instructional labs.

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Charles Mossey


Jacob Swanson Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Professor of Engineering

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Colin Huntington University of St. Thomas

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Mary Murphy

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This bring your own experiment (BYOE) paper details two iterations of a hands-on painting project that has been well-received by fluid mechanics students. In the conception of this project the authors have explored many of the relevant parameters for different painting techniques: drip painting, pendulum painting spray painting, and acrylic pours – one subset of which is spinning pours. These methods were explored both in terms of relevant fluid mechanic phenomenon as well as with hands-on experimentation, reviewing instructional videos and talking with artists. These efforts led to creation of short instructional videos that students can watch before undertaking their own attempts at creating a work of art. To date this project has been conducted as an extra credit opportunity, though discussion is presented on how the general idea could be deployed as a more traditional experimental lab or as a fun, yet relevant, end of semester lab activity. While the act of creating the fluid art inherently involves learning outcomes related to the importance of thinking creatively, exploring curiosity, prototyping and creating a product with limited project constraints, the instructor can determine the rigor of learning outcomes related to fluid mechanic principles with an accompanying written assignment. This BYOE paper is written with the goal of making the implementation of this project, or some variation of it, straightforward for instructors. Keeping material costs low was part of this consideration and set-up descriptions are provided as well as parts lists.

Shepard, T., & Mossey, C., & Swanson, J., & Huntington, C., & Murphy, M. (2022, August), BYOE: Making Connections between Fluid Mechanics and Abstract Painting Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN. 10.18260/1-2--41406

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