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Finite Element Analysis Learning Modules for an Undergraduate Heat Transfer Course: Implementation and Assessment

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Thermodynamics, Fluids, and Heat Transfer

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.638.1 - 25.638.22



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Paper Authors


Kyle A. Watson University of the Pacific

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Kyle Watson earned his B.S. in mechanical engineering from Villanova University and his M.S. and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from North Carolina State University. He has been a faculty member at the University of the Pacific since 2003 and has taught undergraduate courses in thermodynamics, heat transfer, combustion, air-conditioning, dynamics, and senior capstone design.

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Ashland O. Brown University of the Pacific

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Ashland O. Brown is professor of mechanical engineering, University of the Pacific, and Principal Investigator. He has served as Dean for two engineering schools and headed groups at Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp., which included a product design section composed of product analysis engineers (finite element analysis experts). He has taught engineering courses in thermodynamics, solar engineering, graphics, dynamics, machine design, and finite elements methods. He has more than 50 referred technical research publications, and conference papers with 10 in the areas of finite element learning modules, with two recently accepted as referred engineering journal papers covering the results of the NSF CCLI-Phase 1 work.

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Rachelle Kisst Hackett University of the Pacific

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Rachelle Kisst Hackett, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Benerd School of Education within the Educational and School Psychology Department at the University of the Pacific, where she teaches graduate-level research methodology and applied statistics courses. In addition to serving as a consultant to faculty and students within her unit, Hackett serves as an independent evaluator on several state- and federally funded projects related to education.

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Alexis Pham University of the Pacific

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Alexis Pham is currently a Ph.D. student in educational psychology. She examines how students learn and develop in educational settings. She holds a M.A. in educational and counseling psychology from University of the Pacific.

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Finite Element Analysis Learning Modules for a Undergraduate Heat Transfer Course: Implementation and AssessmentAbstractCommercial finite element packages are widely used in industry thereby making exposure to thisanalysis and optimization tool an important component of undergraduate engineering education.Finite element theory and application has often been the focus of a graduate-level course inengineering programs, however industry demands are requiring B.S. engineering graduates tohave skill in applying this essential analysis and design technique. To meet this need, finiteelement analysis (FEA) learning modules have been developed for implementation into variousundergraduate engineering courses, including mechanics of materials, vibrations, heat transfer,fluid mechanics, and machine design and analysis; these learning modules have been designed toserve as an effective teaching and learning resource that reinforces fundamental concepts andapplications of each course without requiring a knowledge of the rigorous mathematical theoryunderlying the finite element method nor the removal of course content in order to make roomfor this new material.This paper discusses the implementation, results, impact, and assessment of incorporating theselearning modules into an undergraduate heat transfer course using SolidWorks Simulationcommercial software. The primary goals of the learning modules are to provide the studentswith (a) an alternate insight into heat transfer concepts that are covered in a traditionalundergraduate course, including steady-state heat conduction, transient heat conduction, and heatconduction through a semi-infinite medium, (b) a basic knowledge of finite element theory, and(c) the ability to apply commercial finite element software to engineering problems involvingthermal systems. Assessment has been done through the use of pre- and post-learning modulequizzes and student opinion surveys and the results indicate that there is an increase in studentperformance after having completed the learning modules.

Watson, K. A., & Brown, A. O., & Hackett, R. K., & Pham, A. (2012, June), Finite Element Analysis Learning Modules for an Undergraduate Heat Transfer Course: Implementation and Assessment Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21395

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