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Design and Build a Water Channel for a Fluid Dynamics Lab

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

MET Papers 2

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

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Paper Authors


Azar Eslam Panah Pennsylvania State University, Berks

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Dr. Eslam-Panah is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the Penn State University at Berks and her specialty is in thermodynamics and fluid mechanics. Her research interests include unsteady aerodynamics of biologically-inspired air and underwater vehicles, wind turbine aerodynamics, and fluid dynamics in human bodies (e.g. cardiovascular and respiratory). She uses various experimental techniques such as Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) and dye flow visualization and try to persuade her undergraduate students to investigate interesting questions in fluid mechanics with her.

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Amir Barakati Pennsylvania State University, Berks

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Dr. Amir Barakati received his PhD degree in Mechanical Engineering from The University of Iowa in 2012. During his PhD studies and subsequent postdoctoral research, he investigated electro-magneto-thermo-mechanical coupling in composite materials and NURBS-based finite element analysis of cloth simulation. Dr. Barakati currently teaches Intermediate Mechanics of Materials, Introduction to Engineering Design, Mechanics for Technology, and Instrumentation Lab at Penn State Berks.

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Water channels are used for a variety of teaching and research purposes including hydrodynamic and aerodynamic studies. The design, construction, and operation of such facility provide numerous engineering challenges that make it a well suited as an undergraduate capstone project that emphasizes multi-discipline engineering capabilities. It also places a heavy emphasis on exposing students to undergraduate research, exciting them with the opportunity to use and learn state-of-the-art methodologies, and encouraging them to provide a contribution that advances the field of study. The goal was to design, assemble, and test the facility for the new Fluid Mechanics Lab at the Penn State University at Berks. This project was presented to the Electro-Mechanical Engineering Technology (EMET) students as an option for their senior capstone project course (EMET 403 and 440). The specific engineering focus of this project included: a) framing support structure and glass test section design, b) pump selection, c) flow conditioning to enable laminar freestream flow, d) controls with implementation, and e) filtration analysis. This project reinforced the goals of the degree program by providing problems that required knowledge in Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Controls Engineering. Students not only had to employ their engineering skills, but also were confronted with time and budget management as well as interacting with different vendors. In particular, students had to combine their knowledge in the field of statics, strength of material, fluid mechanics, PLC programming, instrumentation, Computer Aided Design, and Economics. The students found themselves to be fortunate to be chosen for this project and they were committed to its completion. However, the farther they got into the project, the more they realized it was a much larger task than they initially thought. The design stage took a while to create a structure in SolidWorks that would meet the project requirements, while staying within the budget. It also gave the team a new appreciation for what could be considered as a small scale project in an industrial environment. Verbal communication, following drawn schematics, and a well-documented assembly plan was the key for the water channel construction in an efficient and effective manner. While the water channel design project was ideal as a capstone project, it will also be used as a valuable facility in both mechanical and electro-mechanical engineering programs, as the team put significant effort into providing a high quality facility for teaching and research purposes.

Eslam Panah, A., & Barakati, A. (2017, June), Design and Build a Water Channel for a Fluid Dynamics Lab Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28108

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