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Incorporating Automobile Climate Control Into The Teaching Of Thermal Environmental Engineering

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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

Energy Program and Software Tools

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.738.1 - 10.738.16



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Paper Authors

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Laura Genik

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Craig Somerton

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

Incorporating Automobile Climate Control into the Teaching of Thermal Environmental Engineering

Craig W. Somerton, Laura J. Genik Michigan State University/University of Portland

Introduction There are many mechanical engineering students that are very interested in the automobile and automotive engineering. It has been our experience that students with this interest can be a challenge to motivate in a course on thermal environmental engineering. This challenge has been tackled by using the automobile interior as the HVAC application. A project approach has been used in two senior level thermal design courses at two different institutions (ME 416 at Michigan State University and ME 436 at the University of Portland) that focuses on automobile climate control. Companion lectures are then used to provide the students with the fundamentals of HVAC design and analysis.

In-house computer software is used that performs the simple calculations associated with the design and cost analysis for the heating and air conditioning systems for an automobile interior. The program allows the students to explore the climate control design over a wide range of variables, including location, commute time, type of car, gasoline price, and cool down time. The students work in project teams of two and are asked to determine the best combination of window transmissivity and air conditioner coefficient of performance for an application (primarily, car type and location) of their choosing. Once a design has been identified, they are asked to take their design and two other competitive designs and conduct several robustness studies to explore the impact of parameters such as gasoline costs, design day, and interest rate on their design decision. The students submit a detailed technical memorandum that documents their design analysis.

While working on their projects, students are introduced to the basic technical background of thermal environmental engineering through lectures and problem sets. Standard topics such as convection/conduction heat transfer through walls and ceilings, infiltration affects, and internal heating/cooling loads are presented and predicted models of these processes are demonstrated. Some of the processes fundamental to automotive climate control are given special attention, including solar loading through windows and thermal transients that occur during heating up or cooling down of the interior.

This paper continues with a discussion of the technical background provided to the students followed by a presentation of the software used. Next a description of the project is provided and the paper concludes with student feedback and recommendations.

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

Genik, L., & Somerton, C. (2005, June), Incorporating Automobile Climate Control Into The Teaching Of Thermal Environmental Engineering Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14267

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