Asee peer logo

Integration Of Numerical Analysis And Experimental Testing Involving Heat Transfer For A Small Heated Cylinder During Cooling

Download Paper |


2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Outstanding Contributions to Mechanical Engineering Education

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.777.1 - 14.777.10



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Steven O'Halloran University of Portland

author page

Timothy Doughty University of Portland

Download Paper |

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

Integration of Numerical Analysis and Experimental Testing Involving Heat Transfer for a Small Heated Cylinder During Cooling


Heat transfer projects can be focused on either experimental measurements or numerical analysis. Due to time constraints in a class it can be difficult to solve complicated problems using both methods. The project described in this paper involves both experimental work and numerical simulations used to determine the temperature of a small aluminum cylinder while it is cooling from a temperature of approximately 80ºC to ambient room temperature of approximately 23ºC. The project spans two courses in the undergraduate mechanical engineering curriculum: Heat Transfer where the numerical analysis was performed, and Systems and Measurement where students address the problem with experimentation. This implementation is intended to reinforce fundamental heat transfer concepts by working on a project through two different approaches. In the junior year the students first complete a numerical analysis of the cooling cylinder by solving the convection and conduction equations in radial coordinates using a finite difference approach and determining the temperature of the cylinder as it cools. In the senior year the same students look at the physical system in a laboratory exercise, utilizing thermocouples, computerized data acquisition, and processing to experimentally measure the temperature of the cooling cylinder. A description of both the theoretical problem and the experimental problem are given in this paper as well as results from a survey conducted after the students completed the project to help determine the effectiveness of the approach and the possibility of using a similar approach for other topics outside of heat transfer.


This paper documents a heat transfer project that incorporates both numerical analysis (finite difference) as well experimental testing of the cooling of a small aluminum cylinder. This was done over the span of two undergraduate courses, the required introductory heat transfer lecture course (ME336 Heat Transfer) and a senior level technical elective on instrumentation (ME 491 Systems and Measurement). The goal is to reinforce concepts of conduction and convection heat transfer. The problem was divided into two courses for the following reasons. First, in a single course it is often not possible to have enough time to conduct detailed numerical analysis and time intensive experiments. Second, by using two separate courses the students can see the relationship between different engineering courses and strengthen their appreciation of their curriculum.

In recent years, many studies have been presented on the effectiveness of using computational methods to enhance the teaching of heat transfer 1,2,3,4. Though numerical analysis is an integral part of engineering education, it is largely agreed that simulation can not replace hands-on learning5. As a result, there is an effort to establish laboratory work that supplements numerical investigations in the field 6.

O'Halloran, S., & Doughty, T. (2009, June), Integration Of Numerical Analysis And Experimental Testing Involving Heat Transfer For A Small Heated Cylinder During Cooling Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4520

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2009 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015