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Development Of Undergraduate Laboratories In Thermal Fluids Area Through Student Involvement

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.212.1 - 3.212.9



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Paper Authors

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Ganesh V. Kudav

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Session 2266

Development of Undergraduate Laboratories in Thermal-Fluids Area Through Student Involvement Ganesh V. Kudav Youngstown State University


The undergraduate mechanical engineering curriculum at Youngstown State University (YSU) currently requires the students to take three experiment-oriented 1-quarter- hour laboratory courses from the areas in applied thermodynamics, stress-strain analysis, heat transfer, fluid mechanics, vibrations, acoustics, and advanced machine design. These lab courses are offered at the senior level and the department’s objective is to provide students with hand-on experience in modern measurement techniques, data acquisition, and extensive use of computers for analysis and reduction of experimental data. The lab courses, therefore, not only fulfill the pedagogic principle of validation of the engineering principles and laws, but also form an effective platform for enhancing the written and oral communication skills of our students through presentation of formal reports and oral presentations. In the lab courses that I teach in the thermal fluids area, I try to go beyond these basic objectives by providing students an opportunity to design and build new laboratory systems, or augment the existing equipment with modern instrumentation, and controls. In my lab courses, in addition to the conventional experiments during the weekly meetings, I assign one significant development project to student teams of two or three. The special project is assigned in the first week of the 10-week course to allow students sufficient time for the completion of their project. This paper discusses some of student projects, my philosophy behind the implementation of lab development projects, and the feedback I received from the students.


Traditional undergraduate labs usually concentrate on demonstrations of physical phenomena [Ref. 1]. As a result, when it is time to replace a particular equipment, the faculty member in charge of a lab, reviews the catalogs of engineering lab equipment vendors to determine which package best replaces the one on hand. Once a package and the vendor are considered, the professor then writes up a small proposal and submits it for consideration by the university administration. Invariably there are two main problems that are encountered: a) With the dwindling financial resources, the submitted proposal has to “compete” with several others from the department, college, and sometimes from the whole university for consideration in terms of urgency of the need for replacement, and (this is the bottom-line) the cost. The “canned experiments and packages” are usually very expensive. Therefore, the more expensive equipment is the lower the priority a request receives. b) The equipment may not allow sufficient flexibility for a more detailed parametric study of a principle. Besides, the laboratory experience remains relatively passive for the student. This does not imply that

Kudav, G. V. (1998, June), Development Of Undergraduate Laboratories In Thermal Fluids Area Through Student Involvement Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/1-2--7045

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