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Recent Developments In Mech Lab I At The University Of South Florida

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Innovations in Mechanical Engineering Experiments and Labs

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1226.1 - 12.1226.5

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Paper Authors


Don Dekker University of South Florida

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Don Dekker is currently an Adjunct Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of South Florida. He is currently teaching Mechanical Engineering Laboratory I, and Capstone Design at USF. Before his retirement in 2001, Don taught at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. He first joined ASEE in 1974 and some of his ASEE activities include Zone II Chairman (86-88), Chairman of DEED (89-90), and General Chair of FIE ‘87. His degrees are: PhD, Stanford University, 1973; MSME, University of New Mexico, 1963; and BSME, Rose Polytechnic Institute, 1961

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

Recent Developments in Mech Lab I at _ _ _ Introduction

Mechanical Engineering Laboratory I is the first of two laboratory courses for ME students. It was revamped in the fall of 2004 when the author started teaching Mech Lab I. The course revisions came out of an experience by the author when he was on a mission statement committee for a commercial lab. Initially, the mission statement committee thought that the purpose of the lab was to run tests. After much discussion, the committee realized that the purpose of the lab was to provide information. The information provided by the commercial lab could be used to make decisions about the quality of materials, to overcome a malfunction, or to improve the product. With this insight in mind, the Mech Lab I course became an avenue for teaching students how to provide information from the tests that they conduct.

The students attend two lectures a week and one lab session per week. The lectures immediately precede the laboratory periods. With this scheduling, the lecture topics carry over directly into the laboratory period. There are eight identical lab setups for each of the eight experiments, so each lab group performs the same experiment simultaneously.


Four new experiments have been introduced. They are: Performance of an Electric Motor, Air Flow, Air Cylinder Forces, and Time Constant of a Thermocouple. The other labs are: Statistical Analysis, Strain Gage (Application and Use), Accelerometer (Vibration Measurements), and (8) Thermocouple (Construction and Use).

Students are given a handout that lists the experiments in the order they are performed, as well as a statement of essence of each lab. The entire handout of all the lab instructions and data sheets is 70 pages long. A detailed write-up of each experiment is available from the author.

Lab 1: Statistical Analysis: The students measure two dimensions of the nut or bolt with a digital calipers and measure the resistance of the resistors with a multimeter. They then have to determine how many tests should be run to have a certain accuracy and confidence level.

Lab 2: Electric Motor Performance: Each student team measures voltage, current, force, length of moment arm, and rpm, and records the data at both 5 and 12 volts. They then calculate the output torque, the output power, the input power, and the motor efficiency. The following performance curves are then plotted: torque vs. rpm, power (out) vs. rpm, power (in) vs. rpm, and efficiency vs. rpm. The operating points (torque and rpm) for both voltages are determined

Dekker, D. (2007, June), Recent Developments In Mech Lab I At The University Of South Florida Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii.

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