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Modular, Adaptable And Reusable Approach To Thermal Fluids: Outwitting The Norms (Marathon)

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Curriculum Development in Mechanical Engineering Technology

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.905.1 - 13.905.8



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Paper Authors


Ivana Milanovic University of Hartford

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Ivana M. Milanovic is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering in the College of Engineering, Technology, and Architecture at the University of Hartford. She received her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Polytechnic University, NY and M.S. and B.S. from University of Belgrade in Yugoslavia.

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Tom Eppes University of Hartford

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Tom A. Eppes is an Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the College of Engineering, Technology, and Architecture at the University of Hartford. He holds Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Electrical Engineering from Texas A&M University and a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan.

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

Modular, Adaptable and Reusable Approach to Thermal-Fluids: Outwitting the Norms (MARATHON)

This paper describes the results of a project that implemented modular, adaptable and reusable thermo-fluids laboratories in the undergraduate Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET) Program. MARATHON (Modular, Adaptable and Reusable Approach to Thermal-Fluids Outwitting Norms) successfully engages students in inquiry and learning, gradually building toward intellectual and practical challenges without pre-determined outcomes. For the most part, research and discovery activities did not figure prominently in the MET curriculum. In the past, typical laboratories consisted of a set of exercises with pre-established experimental set up, and instructions. This concept did not foster critical thinking skills because it did not provide students with the opportunity to build experiments and models from scratch, experience difficulties, be resourceful, explore alternatives and make design decisions. Therefore, there was a strong pedagogical need for better practical problem solving skills in the area of thermo- fluids.

MARATHON was created to facilitate development of student problem solving skills in which students become active participants in the process of discovery. To accomplish this, a cluster of interconnected laboratories in the area of thermo-fluids was reconfigured and organized in a pyramidal block-like system. These blocks were: (1) classical experiments, (2) jigsaw experiments, and (3) design of an experiment. This new laboratory structure provides an array of experiences, builds on already existing skills and knowledge, and connects them in a logical way.

MARATHON was first implemented in Fall 2002 and has been used for four academic cycles. The primary benefits have been to expand the students’ understanding of the complexity associated with designing and successfully performing an experiment from scratch. Each year at least one project has been featured at the University’s undergraduate research colloquium. Laboratory platforms have been provided from other courses to expand the experimental options available to students in MARATHON. Future plans include expanding MARATHON to other programs and disciplines, i.e. analog/digital electronics. Additional laboratory platforms will be developed in the area of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and virtual LabVIEW-based experiments.


The College of Engineering, Technology, and Architecture (CETA) at the University of Hartford has a population of about 800 undergraduate students of which 420 are enrolled in engineering technology (ET) programs. Within CETA, there are three departments that collectively support five four-year ET undergraduate programs. The ongoing challenges we face are:

• More creatively engage students in the laboratory • More effectively use space, equipment and faculty resources • Modernize instrumentation and equipment

Milanovic, I., & Eppes, T. (2008, June), Modular, Adaptable And Reusable Approach To Thermal Fluids: Outwitting The Norms (Marathon) Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3304

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