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Engineering Design Education In Thermal Systems Laboratory

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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

3.243.1 - 3.243.6



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Paper Authors

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Lang-Wah Lee

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Tamer Ceylan

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


Lang Wah Lee Tamer Ceylan

Department of Mechanical/Industrial Engineering University of Wisconsin-Platteville Platteville, WI 53818

ABSTRACT: This paper presents four methods to integrate design to an equipment-intensive laboratory course. These four methods are: (1) design of measurement systems with a graphical programming method; (2) design of components for testing; (3) design of experimental procedure with statistical design of experiments; and (4) evaluation of industrial products. Examples are used to illustrate the advantages and drawbacks of each method.


To educate a new generation of engineers for the twenty-first century, engineering educators face many challenges such as the development of students’ ability in critical thinking, creativity, collaborative work, and communication. Laboratory education can play a pivotal role in attaining these goals. However, due to the limitation of traditional laboratory teaching, its potential benefits have never been fully realized. The problem becomes more acute if the laboratory course is equipment-intensive. Since students are usually not familiar with the operation of equipment, they need to follow a set of detailed and rigid experimental procedures. Such a “cookbook” approach reduces students to a rather passive role in which their initiatives, creativity and motivation are suppressed. To improve the effectiveness of laboratory education, educators must develop and adopt new approaches to inspire creativity and curiosity among students. One promising approach to improve quality of laboratory education is through integration of design activities into laboratory courses.

This paper provides an account on how we integrated design education in the Thermal Systems Laboratory course. This required course is offered to senior mechanical engineering students after they have completed four prerequisite courses in Thermodynamics, Fluid Dynamics, Applied Thermodynamics, and Heat Transfer. The course is equipment-intensive. Students conduct experiments on test setups such as steam turbines, wind tunnel, centrifugal pump, refrigeration, heat exchanger, and compressor. To implement design education in this course, one needs to consider the following questions: (1) What constitutes as design activity in the lab course and how to implement it? (2) How much design content should be included in the course? (3) What type of equipment is needed? This paper will first discuss these important questions, followed by a brief description on some typical design projects and discussion on the advantage and drawbacks of various approaches.

Lee, L., & Ceylan, T. (1998, June), Engineering Design Education In Thermal Systems Laboratory Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/1-2--7082

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