June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies
22.434.1 - 22.434.16
Design of Experiments in Introduction to Thermodynamics CourseAbstractThis paper describes an easily implementable new approach to thermodynamics laboratoryinstruction that directly addresses ABET Criterion b) an ability to design and conductexperiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data. In a traditional lab, students conductpreconfigured experiments based on established procedures. They then gather, analyze andinterpret data, and write reports. However, little is done to train engineering graduates to designexperiments for a specific purpose and without a prescribed procedure. Engineeringprofessionals are frequently tasked with designing experiments to demonstrate performance of adevice they designed or developed inorder to prove a physical phenomenon in a research setting,etc. Hence, it comes as no surprise that ABET has embraced this criterion for close to a decade.Introduction to Thermodynamics requires that students learn basic, yet complicated concepts,such as determining properties of pure substances, calculating heat and work exchanged during aprocess, and the first and second law of thermodynamics, before they can tackle complexapplications, such as thermodynamic cycles or combustion systems. These basic concepts areconducive to simple, conceptually oriented laboratory assignments that parallel the classroominstruction. Those laboratory assignments are an ideal place to implement design of experimentsbecause the concepts are still fundamental and intuitive.We have implemented this approach in our weekly Introduction to Thermodynamics labs. Teamsof 3-5 students are given a set of basic supplies and are tasked with designing an experiment witha specific purpose such as determining the efficiency of a light-bulb as an emitter of light. In thisexperiment they are given a light-bulb with pre-built leads, a plastic cup, a power supply, amp-and volt-meters, a thermometer, a scale, a stirrer, and several other equipmental items they maynot use. Students brainstorm about ways to test efficiency, build a test apparatus, conductmeasurements, and calculate the efficiency.This paper contains examples of four such labs, including the prelab handouts, assignmentdescriptions, equipment lists and photos of student solutions. The paper also summarizes ourassessment of this approach. The assessment utilizes 1) three student surveys, one after the third,second after the seventh, and third after the tenth week (at the end) of the quarter; 2) studentinterviews, and 3) comparison of the lab assignment grades to those in courses that did notimplement that approach. Assessment results will be shown in the paper.
Rutar, T., & Mason, G. (2011, June), Design of Experiments in Introduction to Thermodynamics Course Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17715
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