Asee peer logo

Interactive Computer Program For Transient Conductive Heat Transfer Concepts

Download Paper |


2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Novel Applications of Computers/Software in Energy Education

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.942.1 - 12.942.10



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Robert McMasters Virginia Military Institute

author page

Michael Sexton Virginia Military Institute

author page

Craig Somerton Michigan State University

author page

Andre Benard Michigan State University

author page

Norbert Mueller Michigan State University

Download Paper |

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

Interactive Computer Program for Transient Conductive Heat Transfer Concepts


An interactive computer based learning tool for undergraduate students enrolled in Heat Transfer courses has been significantly expanded. A previous version of the program provided graphical depictions of two-dimensional steady state conduction solutions for cases where temperature boundary conditions were prescribed. The present research expands the features of the program to include prescribed heat flux boundary conditions as well as convective boundary conditions. Moreover, the expanded program also handles transient cases so that students can watch temperature changes in a material on a real-time basis. The addition of these boundary conditions also now allows one dimensional problems to be solved by specifying a zero heat flux condition on opposing sides of the body.

The solutions for the original version of the program were generated using a code developed for Sandia National Laboratory which was DOS based. The revised program has replaced this computational kernel with a numerical solution which is programmed as part of the native Visual Basic code. This feature allows the program to run more seamlessly, without the need for a black DOS window to appear on the screen.

The interface between the student and the kernel program allows visualization of the temperature field generated in the two-dimensional body. The program is used by students on an individual basis as a supplement to their usual textbook, homework and class involvement.

Input from the students is prompted via text boxes in a Windows based program. Coincident with the expanded features of the program is a need for considerably more input on the part of the students. The six input items required by the user in the previous program version have been expanded to 17, with a corresponding number of input boxes provided for that purpose. Additionally, there are two “calculate” buttons which start the program running, one for steady state problems and one for transient problems.

Students enrolled in the Heat Transfer courses at two separate institutions are given instruction sheets for operating the program, including prescribed temperature values for the boundaries. They are then asked to provide a written response to questions, requiring them to explain where the heat flux is the largest and the smallest in the body. An evaluation of the program by the students is included in the study as a means of determining the effectiveness of the program. Since the learning atmosphere in each of the two schools included in this study is very different, the reaction from the students at each of these schools is of special interest.


A program was previously developed with the intent of giving students a physical feel for conductive heat transfer processes [1]. The program addressed prescribed temperature boundary conditions under steady state conditions in a two-dimensional rectangular object. The user

McMasters, R., & Sexton, M., & Somerton, C., & Benard, A., & Mueller, N. (2007, June), Interactive Computer Program For Transient Conductive Heat Transfer Concepts Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1497

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: © 2007 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