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FlowVisual: Design and Evaluation of a Visualization Tool for Teaching 2D Flow Field Concepts

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Computer Hardware and Simulation

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.609.1 - 23.609.20



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Paper Authors

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Man Wang Michigan Technological University

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Jun Tao Michigan Technological University


Chaoli Wang Michigan Technological University

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Dr. Chaoli Wang is an assistant professor of computer science at Michigan Technological University. His research focuses on large-scale data analysis and visualization, high-performance computing, user interfaces and interaction, and computer science education. He received B.E. and M.E. degrees in Computer Science from Fuzhou University, China, in 1998 and 2001, respectively, and a Ph.D. degree in Computer and Information Science from Ohio State University in 2006. From 2007 to 2009, he was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Davis. He has served on the program committees of premier visualization conferences including IEEE Scientific Visualization Conference, Eurographics Conference on Visualization, and IEEE Pacific Visualization Symposium.

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Ching-Kuang Shene Michigan Technological University

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Dr. Ching-Kuang Shene received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the Johns Hopkins University in 1992 and is currently a professor at Michigan Technological University. His research has been supported by seven NSF grants, including a NSF Research Initiation Award, and an IBM Eclipse Innovation Award.

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Seung Hyun Kim Michigan Technological University

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Design and Evaluation of a Visualization Tool for Teaching 2D FlowField ConceptsVisual understanding of fluid flows is critically important in many scientific andengineering disciplines. Most fluids (air, water, etc.) are transparent, thus their flowpatterns are invisible to us. Flow visualization is used to make the flow patterns visible sothat we can visually acquire qualitative and quantitative flow information. In this paper,we propose to design a visualization tool to illustrate basic flow field concepts in 2D. Thegoal is to facilitate engineering students in their learning of these essential conceptsthrough exploration and interaction with the tool.Given a 2D flow field, we first compute and display its line integral convolution textureso that the users can intuitively grasp an overview of the underlying flow field data. Wedetect and analyze critical points of various kinds and highlight them in the visualizationto support effective feature-guided seeding. The users can drop seeds in the field and wedepict the “paths” that the seeds will follow at any point in time in an animated fashion sothat the users can observe the integral lines. Besides point seeding for single lines, wealso enable rake seeding so that a group of lines can be traced simultaneously forefficiency. Our tool includes both streamline visualization for steady flow fields andpathline, timeline and streakline visualization for unsteady flow fields. Visuallycomparing streamlines and streaklines, pathlines and timelines, and pathlines andstreaklines allows students to easily understand the similarities and differences amongthese integral lines, which may be difficult to comprehend without visual explanation andinterrogation.The deliverable includes a portable system for classroom presentation as a demo tool andfor self-study by the students and professionals. This tool will be used in classroom andits effectiveness will be evaluated through a formal user study involving students frommechanical engineering, electrical engineering and computer science. We not only willinvestigate the effectiveness of this tool for teaching and self-study, but also study theimpact of this tool on different disciplines. The assessment techniques to be used include,but are not limited to, general descriptive statistics, effective sizes, parametric and non-parametric ANOVA type analysis, and statistical modeling of impacts on disciplines ifthe sample sizes of disciplines permit. In addition to the visualization tool, the evaluationmaterials and techniques will also be available to those who are interested.

Wang, M., & Tao, J., & Wang, C., & Shene, C., & Kim, S. H. (2013, June), FlowVisual: Design and Evaluation of a Visualization Tool for Teaching 2D Flow Field Concepts Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19623

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