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Lessons Learned From Developing And Teaching An Integrated Thermal Fluids Course

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Thermodynamics and Fluid Mechanics Instruction

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.884.1 - 11.884.16



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Paper Authors

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Seth Norberg U.S. Military Academy

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Ozer Arnas U.S. Military Academy

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Daisie Boettner U.S. Military Academy

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Michael Rounds U.S. Military Academy

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Phil Root U.S. Military Academy

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Richard Melnyk U.S. Military Academy

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

Lessons Learned from Developing and Teaching an Integrated Thermal-Fluids Course


The Mechanical Engineering program at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, recently implemented a revised curriculum designed to reinforce engineering fundamentals and to offer students greater choice of sub-disciplines for in-depth study. One initiative associated with the revised curriculum was the integration of the courses, Thermodynamics and Fluid Mechanics, into a two-course thermal-fluid systems sequence. The first course in the sequence, ME311 (Thermal-Fluid Systems I) was taught for the first time during Fall 2005. This paper describes the course development process and the global learning structure on which the course is based to introduce and reinforce fundamental concepts. Additionally, this paper presents advantages and challenges associated with teaching a course that integrates Thermodynamics and Fluid Mechanics. Course feedback provides student perspective on the learning experience.


Thermodynamics and Fluid Mechanics have been required courses in the USMA curriculum for well over a half century. Through the Class of 1979, all cadets were required to take both courses. Beginning with the Class of 1980 only those students interested in furthering their studies in engineering took both Thermodynamics and Fluid Mechanics. All other cadets took a new course, Thermofluid Dynamics (ME304), that covered selected topics in thermodynamics and fluid mechanics to provide “essential engineering knowledge necessary to understand the complex mechanical world of the U.S. Army”.1 Curriculum revision in the late 1980s required all non-engineering majors to take a five-course engineering sequence comprised of five courses from one of the ABET-accredited engineering majors. Since it was not an ABET-engineering course, ME304 was no longer needed and consequently was dropped from the curriculum. Beginning with the Class of 2005, the required engineering sequence for non-engineering majors was reduced from five courses to three courses. In most cases, all engineering sequence courses were decoupled from courses taken by engineering majors. For the three-course mechanical engineering sequence, the mechanical engineering faculty developed a new course, Introduction to Thermal Systems with Army Applications (ME350) that includes fundamental concepts of thermodynamics and fluid mechanics associated with Army equipment. The purpose of both ME304 and ME350 was to present topics from thermodynamics and fluid mechanics in a single course to acquaint non-engineering majors with technologies associated with Army equipment.

Cadets choosing an ABET-accredited curriculum take engineering courses associated with their major. As shown in Table 1, engineering disciplines requiring cadets to take a course in Thermodynamics and in Fluid Mechanics were Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Engineering Management (Mechanical Engineering Track), Environmental Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Nuclear Engineering. Topics in Thermodynamics and Fluid Mechanics are fundamental for more advanced courses in these engineering disciplines. Systems Engineering majors only took Thermodynamics. USMA’s course in Thermodynamics (ME301)

Norberg, S., & Arnas, O., & Boettner, D., & Rounds, M., & Root, P., & Melnyk, R. (2006, June), Lessons Learned From Developing And Teaching An Integrated Thermal Fluids Course Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--385

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