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Introducing Lab-on-a-Chip-type Experimental Activities in a Thermodynamics and Heat Transfer Laboratory Course

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Engineering Potpourri

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.843.1 - 25.843.17



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Paper Authors


Irina Nicoleta Ciobanescu Husanu Drexel University

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Irina Ciobanescu Husanu (Co-PI) is Assistant Professor in applied engineering at Drexel University. She received her Ph.D. degree in mechanical engineering from Drexel University and also a M.S. degree in aeronautical engineering. Her research interest is in thermo-fluid sciences with applications in micro-combustion, fuel cells, green fuels, and plasma assisted combustion. Husanu has prior industrial experience in aerospace engineering that encompasses both theoretical analysis and experimental investigations such as designing and testing of propulsion systems including design and development of pilot testing facility, mechanical instrumentation, and industrial applications of aircraft engines. Also, in the past seven years, she gained experience in teaching ME and ET courses in thermal-fluid and energy conversion areas from various levels of instruction and addressed to a broad spectrum of students, from freshmen to seniors, from high school graduates to adult learners. She also has extended experience in curriculum development.

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Michael G. Mauk Drexel University

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Patrick lee Kirby Drexel University

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Bailu Xu

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Introducing “Lab-on-a-Chip” Type Experimental Activities in “Thermodynamics and Heat Transfer Laboratory” CourseIn recent years, increasing industry demands for skilled graduates from universities required asubstantial focus from engineering technology programs across the nation towards improving oreven changing their traditional ways of imparting the knowledge to students to incorporate asmuch hands-on activities as possible in their curricula without having to curtail the foundationand yet to stay within the total number of existing credits. However, adding more laboratoryactivities implies a financial burden on the department and institution. In particular, for thermal-fluid educational and research areas, experimental equipment could be excessively costly andalso require dedicated laboratory space. In the past years, we performed laboratory activitiesbased on traditional educational equipment practically proving certain theories and modelingcertain concepts such as Newton’s Law of Cooling or Vortex tube principle. While retainingthese valuable experiments, we always thrive to improve and adapt our curricula to moreinteresting and motivating experiments. However, the laboratory space became less available tocreate and develop new experiments that required new equipment. To overcome both financialand space constraints, the lab-on-a-chip approach due to its miniaturized components seems agood path to actually improve laboratory activities in this particular course area.Micro-fluidics (Lab-on-a-chip) approach has a tremendous amount of emerging scientific andindustrial applications from health and medical research to investigation to electronic industry.As a result of these experimental activities, students will gain both in-depth understanding ofphysical phenomena and lectured concepts and hand-on experience in working with miniaturizeddevices, and with the phenomena associated with them.In this paper we propose to develop laboratory activities and to introduce them in the improved“Thermo and Heat Transfer Lab” course that will be offered during the winter term of AY 2011-2012. Also the performance of this course including the new developed activities will beformally assessed by a third party from critical thinking and creativity development perspectivesas a part of an ongoing teaching and research assessment and evaluation effort.The proposed activities are based on development of a micro-fluidic calorimeter that will allowstudent to visualize streams and types of flows (turbulent and laminar) and also to evaluateenthalpy of formation of a substance, heat capacity of substances, heat production. Thetemperature variation will be controlled by a series of thermopiles and local micro-temperaturesensors will be embedded around the channels. The micro-calorimeter is expected to give anexcellent control of the thermal transfer, phenomenon that can be explored further by studentsextending the experiments into small team projects. The fabrication of these micro-devices isfairly inexpensive and can be produced in our lab facility.

Ciobanescu Husanu, I. N., & Mauk, M. G., & Kirby, P. L., & Xu, B. (2012, June), Introducing Lab-on-a-Chip-type Experimental Activities in a Thermodynamics and Heat Transfer Laboratory Course Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21600

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