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Going with the Flow in a Service Learning Project

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Mechanical Engineering Laboratories II

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.753.1 - 22.753.10



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Paper Authors


Tim L. Brower University of Colorado, Boulder

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Tim L. Brower is currently the Director of the CU, Boulder and Mesa State College Mechanical Engineering Partnership Program. He received his B.S. in General Engineering at Idaho State University, M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Montana State University, and Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from Colorado State University. Before becoming the director of the partnership two years ago, he was a Professor and Chair of the Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering and Technology Department at Oregon Institute of Technology. While in Oregon, he served as the Affiliate Director for Project Lead The Way Oregon. In another life, he worked as an aerospace engineer with the Lockheed Martin Corporation in Denver, Colorado. He is an active member of ASEE, ASME, and AIAA. Representing ASME, Dr. Brower has served as a program evaluator for ABET for the past seven years.

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Design Optimization Concepts in a Service Learning ProjectDesign optimization of engineering products is ubiquitous in industry. In the engineering ofproducts that are subjected to an external fluid environment, the design cycle often begins with a3D computer model rendering of the product. Computer generated models can then be exposedto the fluid environment through Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD). The model in turn maybe brought to life through a 3D printer and subsequently used as a subscale test article. Throughthis process, the initial design can be optimized at a significantly reduced developmental cost.Junior-level mechanical engineering (ME) students were exposed to the concepts associated withthe design optimization process using commonly available technology. The 3D computer modelwas created using a modeling software package which has an embedded CFD flow simulationanalysis tool. The physical model was fabricated with a 3D Printer using ABS plastic and thesubscale test was conducted on this model using Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) techniques.The ME students participated in all aspects of this process.Service learning has been shown to be a valuable approach in authenticating classroom learningexperiences. Therefore a service learning component was incorporated into the class. MEstudent teams traveled to local K-12 schools to engage the younger students in the somewhatabstract flow concepts associated with fluid mechanics using real-life examples. ME studentsexplained flow concepts and showed examples using CFD and PIV. Groups of the K-12 studentswere tasked to hand-draw a common shape and predict the associated flow patterns around theshape. The ME students then manufactured this shape, analyzed the flow around the object anddemonstrated the results to the K-12 students.This paper describes the process of teaching fluid mechanics by combining service learning withdesign optimization using modern technology. The paper will also evaluate whether there is animprovement in the participating ME student’s understanding of the relevant engineeringconcepts.

Brower, T. L. (2011, June), Going with the Flow in a Service Learning Project Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18034

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