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Development Of A Thermal Systems Course For A Power Engineering Technology Program

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Newly Developed Engineering Courses

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.409.1 - 15.409.7



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Paper Authors


Jorge Alvarado Texas A&M University

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Dr. Jorge Alvarado is an assistant professor in the Department of Engineering Technology and
Industrial Distribution at Texas A&M University. He teaches courses in the areas of thermal
sciences, fluid mechanics, and fluid power. Dr. Alvarado’s research interests are in the areas of
nanotechnology, micro-scale heat transfer, electronic cooling, phase change materials, energy conservation, and use of renewable energy in buildings. He received his BS degree in mechanical engineering (1991) from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez; MS (2000) and PhD (2004) degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Development of a Thermal Systems Course for a Power Engineering Technology Program Abstract

A new power engineering technology program has been created in the department of Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution at the Texas A&M University with the objective of educating and preparing students for jobs in the Power Industry. As part of the new curriculum, several new courses have been developed to satisfy ABET requirements and the power industry needs. Development of a thermal systems course specifically for the power industry presents several challenges and opportunities. The course should be able to prepare students for an extensive range of thermal system problems commonly encountered in the field by introducing lecture materials from different engineering disciplines in an organized manner.

In this paper, the structure and content of a new thermal system course are described within the context of engineering technology. The course covers topics such as fluid properties; mass and energy conservation principles; fluid systems including friction losses in pipes, pumps, pump- piping system interaction; thermodynamics power cycles; conduction and convection heat transfer; analysis and design of heat exchangers; and cooling towers. The course also consists of a laboratory component where specific emphasis is given to thermal system hardware design and selection, and analysis and performance optimization of thermal systems through computational activities. The course laboratory activities also include hands-on exercises where students learn to characterize the performance of a commercial pump system, a convective heat transfer device, a lab-scale Rankine cycle, and lab-scale ground source heat pump. In the course, students also learn about the importance of component integration and how it affects the overall performance of a conventional thermal system.


Recent studies and statistics1 have shown that there will be significant increases in the demand for workers, utility and energy managers in the next two decades. The demand for engineers and technologists in the area of power generation is expected to grow particularly in the nuclear power industry, which has responded favorably to incentives provided by the Energy Policy Act of 20052. Furthermore, the current workforce in the power industry is aging, and a significant number of power engineers and specialists will be retiring within the next 10 years. As a result, a new Power Engineering Technology program has been developed by the Department of Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution at Texas A&M University to prepare students for new and exciting jobs in the power industry in the State of Texas and in the nation. The new program will provide students with the necessary expertise and skills to excel in the power industry.

One of the main challenges in organizing and structuring a Power Engineering Technology program is to design and implement a curriculum that reflects the current and future needs of the industry. To meet that objective, faculty members of Texas A&M University met with representatives of several utility companies to determine what skills, knowledge, and level of expertise are required in the industry today1. Once a list of required courses was obtained,

Alvarado, J. (2010, June), Development Of A Thermal Systems Course For A Power Engineering Technology Program Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16924

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