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Engaging Students in the Complex Issues Surrounding Data Center Thermal Management

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

K-12 and Pre-College Engineering Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.489.1 - 24.489.7



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Paper Authors


Eric Daney Downingtown Area School District & Villanova University

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Serve as K-12 Science Curriculum Leader for the Downingtown Area School District in addition to teaching 9th Universal Physics at the Downingtown STEM Academy.

Received National Science Foundation Grant for Research Experience for Teachers to work in the Villanova University Center for Energy-Smart Electronic Systems

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Aaron P. Wemhoff Villanova University Orcid 16x16

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Aaron Wemhoff is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Villanova University. He earned his PhD from UC Berkeley in 2004, and he previously worked as a staff engineer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

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Gerard F. Jones Villanova University

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Following a several year period as a project engineer for Mobil Oil Corporation in Paulsboro, New Jersey, Jerry Jones joined the University of Pennsylvania, receiving his MS in 1975 and PhD in 1981. Jones was a technical staff member with Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico until 1987. His research activities included experiments, analysis, and simulations on thermal systems, including solar and geothermal energy conversion. He consulted with LANL on a wide array of technical topics from 1990 until 2006.

Jones joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Villanova University in 1987 where he currently holds the rank of professor. In 2008, after serving as department chairman for six years, he assumed the position of Associate Dean, Academic Affairs where he was responsible for day-to-day running of the undergraduate engineering program of 850 students in five engineering majors. In 2012, he took the position of Sr. Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research. His undergraduate teaching has included numerous courses in heat transfer, fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, analysis and design, gravity-driven water networks, and laboratories. His graduate courses are heat conduction, convection, computational fluid dynamics, advanced fluid dynamics, and solar thermal energy conversion.

Among his research interests are heat transfer in composite materials, high-performance heat exchangers for electronics cooling, and thermal management of power production and dissipation systems. His most recent research has focused on optimization of multi-scale thermal structures using Constructal theory.

Dr. Jones is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, has served actively on the ASME Computational Heat Transfer committee for many years, and is a past president and secretary of the Villanova Chapter of Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society. Since 2005, he has been a member of the Committee on Science and the Arts (CS\&A) of the Franklin Institute of Philadelphia which selects its annual Franklin Medal award winners, and starting in 2011 is a member of the executive committee of the CS\&A. He has advised nearly 20 Masters and Ph.D. candidates, served on more than 35 M.S. and Ph.D. thesis committees, and has published more than 80 archival journal and conference proceedings publications. His book, Gravity-Driven Water Flow in Networks: Theory and Design (Wiley, 2010) is an outgrowth of student-focused, service-learning efforts in Central America begun in 2004 with two colleagues in the ME Department at Villanova. Since this time, he has traveled extensively with students on more than a dozen international trips while engaging many students in leadership positions.

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Engaging students in the complex issues surrounding data center thermal management As has been widely reported, data centers consume in excess of 2% of the electricityproduced annually in the United States. This, coupled with diminishing access to fossil fuels,provides scientists and engineers of this generation and the next with the challenge of makingbetter use of available energy. This paper provides the foundation for a project-based learning module that will beimplemented this coming spring for 200 ninth-grade students at the Downingtown S.T.E.M.Academy. The project will focus on educating students about the function of the data center intheir everyday lives and the energy consumption issues that are central to the design of the nextgeneration of data centers. Throughout this learning process students will be asked to researchand develop new and innovative ways of addressing the issue. Student teams will present their responses to the essential question in progressively moredetailed methods as a means to garner feedback for reflection, revision, and further study. Theculminating submission will be a video documentary developed, filmed, and edited by the team.  These presentations will be included in a grade-wide live and online showcase of findings andrecommendations that will enable students to share their findings and recommendations bothlocally and globally. Providing a learning opportunity that focuses on the current data center energy usagechallenge, and the emergent technologies being used to address it, will connect students to adeeper understanding of the inner workings of the data center and its place in modern society.

Daney, E., & Wemhoff, A. P., & Jones, G. F. (2014, June), Engaging Students in the Complex Issues Surrounding Data Center Thermal Management Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20380

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