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Essential Highlights Of The History Of Fluid Mechanics

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Integrating H&SS in Engineering II

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.579.1 - 10.579.13



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Paper Authors

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Radha Balamuralikrishna

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Kurt Rosentrater

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

Session 2661

Essential Highlights of the History of Fluid Mechanics K. A. Rosentrater USDA, ARS, NGIRL, 2923 Medary Ave., Brookings, SD, 57006, USA Phone: (605) 693-3241; Fax: (605) 693-5240; Email:

R. Balamuralikrishna Department of Technology, Northern Illinois University, 206 Still Hall, DeKalb, IL, 60015, USA Phone: (815) 753-4155; Fax: (815) 753-3702; Email:


To achieve accreditation, engineering and technology programs throughout the United States must meet guidelines established by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). One of these requirements is that departments demonstrate that they provide students with an understanding of engineering in a broad, societal context. Examination of engineering history can be an essential element to this endeavor, because the development of modern theories and practices have diverse and complex evolutions which are often intimately intertwined with the development of societies themselves. Fluid mechanics is a key field of engineering, whose body of knowledge has had a significant influence on the design and operation of many products and systems over the centuries. Because of this, fluid mechanics coursework is often required for many engineering and technology majors and can, in fact, represent a key component to these programs. Toward these ends, this paper will discuss highlights from the history of fluid mechanics, and will provide several timelines that summarize key scientists, theories, events, equipment and machines. Considering fluid mechanics in this manner can achieve the goal of placing this branch of engineering in an appropriate societal context. It is always a challenge for educators to find useful and interesting material on history; therefore, a summary list of conventional and online resources will also be included. As such, this paper can be used as a resource for both engineering as well as history educators to supplement existing coursework.

Keywords Curriculum Development, Engineering, Fluid Mechanics, History, Society, Technology


As with many fields of modern scientific study, fluid mechanics is rooted in the history of humanity. Over time, as humans adapted and evolved, and their knowledge and skills increased, specific scientific and technological disciplines arose. Many modern conveniences which are now often taken for granted actually originated centuries ago, as have the theoretical foundations upon which they were developed. Throughout its history, fluid mechanics has been a field that has constantly advanced. Inquiry has progressed from trial and error, to formal experimentation, to mathematical theory. As with other engineering fields, it has now reached the point of scientific maturity, with most of the fundamentals clearly understood. As such, it has become a vital component for many engineering curricula. It is therefore a very useful exercise to examine the historical development of this discipline.

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Balamuralikrishna, R., & Rosentrater, K. (2005, June), Essential Highlights Of The History Of Fluid Mechanics Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15231

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