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Introducing Social Relevance and Global Context into the Introduction to Heat Transfer Course

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Mechanical Engineering Division Technical Session 6

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Elizabeth A. Reddy University of San Diego

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Elizabeth Reddy is a post-doctoral research associate at the University of San Diego’s Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering. She is a social scientist, holding a PhD in cultural anthropology from the University of California at Irvine and an MA in Social Science from the University of Chicago. She is Co-Chair of the Committee for the Anthropology of Science, Technology and Computing in the American Anthropological Association. She studies engineers and their work in relation to environments, technologies, and human lives.

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Breanne Przestrzelski University of San Diego

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Bre Przestrzelski, PhD, is a post-doctoral research associate in the General Engineering department in the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, where she seeks to innovatively integrate social justice, humanitarian advancement, and peace into the traditional engineering canon.

Before joining USD in August 2017, Bre spent 9 years at Clemson University, where she was a three-time graduate of the bioengineering program (BS, MS, and PhD), founder of The Design & Entrepreneurship Network (DEN), and Division I rower. In her spare time, Bre teaches design thinking workshops for higher education faculty/administrators at the Stanford d.School as a University Innovation Fellow, coaches a global community of learners through IDEO U, and fails miserably at cooking.

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Susan M. Lord University of San Diego

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Susan M. Lord received a B.S. from Cornell University and the M.S. and Ph.D. from Stanford University. She is currently Professor and Chair of Electrical Engineering at the University of San Diego. Her teaching and research interests include electronics, optoelectronics, materials science, first year engineering courses, feminist and liberative pedagogies, engineering student persistence, and student autonomy. Her research has been sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Dr. Lord is a fellow of the ASEE and IEEE and is active in the engineering education community including serving as General Co-Chair of the 2006 Frontiers in Education (FIE) Conference, on the FIE Steering Committee, and as President of the IEEE Education Society for 2009-2010. She is an Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Education and the Journal of Engineering Education. She and her coauthors were awarded the 2011 Wickenden Award for the best paper in the Journal of Engineering Education and the 2011 and 2015 Best Paper Awards for the IEEE Transactions on Education. In Spring 2012, Dr. Lord spent a sabbatical at Southeast University in Nanjing, China.

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Imane Khalil University of San Diego

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Imane Khalil is an Assistant Professor at the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering at the University of San Diego. She received her BS, MS, and PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California at San Diego. She has an extensive background in industrial and government research from her years working at Hamilton Sundstrand and then Sandia National Laboratories. Her research interests are in numerical methods applied to solid and fluid mechanics, thermal hydraulics, reactor safety and uncertainty quantification applications.

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How can we educate current students to be the most effective engineers when they graduate? Many leaders, researchers, and educators have been calling for the need to move from educating engineers in a way that reinforces that engineering is a purely technical endeavor to one that recognizes it as socio-technical. However, how does an engineering educator do this in required engineering courses? As part of an NSF-funded project, our engineering program is exploring such issues. In this paper, we present examples of how a heat transfer instructor has integrated such content. Heat transfer is a fundamental course in mechanical engineering which includes key concepts that are useful in wide range of applications. Contemporary heat transfer textbooks highlight real-world applications but often struggle to integrate societal concerns. In this paper, we will describe details of two modules, their use with students in a required senior level heat transfer class, and evaluation. Recognizing that instructors have many demands on their time, our modules are designed to be easy to use and include activities for class, homework, and projects. Instructors could choose some or all to incorporate in their heat transfer classes.

The first module is designed to be included in the design of electrical water heaters for residential applications. This topic is covered when teaching conduction and convection heat transfer. Current water heaters in the US run constantly so hot water is available 24 hours a day. Water heater are usually insulated and located inside the garage or a closet inside the house. Despite improved insulation, heat is lost by conduction within the insulation and by convection to surrounding air. The cost of heat loss due to running the water heater constantly is calculated as a class activity. A new problem changes the focus from the US to developing countries, like Lebanon, where electrical energy is not abundant. In these countries, water heaters are typically kept off and turned on half an hour prior to taking a shower. In this case, students must grapple with different constraints as they explore the feasibility of having a water heater running in a global context where electricity is not always available.

The second module is designed for use in the Heat Exchanger section of the course. This is framed around a successful student-faculty project at our university which was implemented in the Dominican Republic designed to provide affordable water heating for rural communities. In class, students are presented with a picture of the thermosiphon solar water heater and challenged to develop the model based on the heat exchanger equations learned in class. An open-ended design project involving modeling of similar heat exchangers is assigned where students use simulation software to calculate system performance and efficiency. Students can directly see the relevance of their heat transfer knowledge in a humanitarian context.

We hope that these examples might help other instructors incorporate these important themes into their heat transfer courses enabling more engineering students to include broader considerations in their engineering practice.

Reddy, E. A., & Przestrzelski, B., & Lord, S. M., & Khalil, I. (2018, June), Introducing Social Relevance and Global Context into the Introduction to Heat Transfer Course Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--29640

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