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Simcafe: A Wiki Based Repository Of Learning Modules For Deploying Simulation Technology In Mechanical Engineering Education

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Outstanding Contributions - Mechanical Engineering Education

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1065.1 - 15.1065.15



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Paper Authors

author page

Rajesh Bhaskaran Cornell University

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

SimCafe: A Wiki-Based Repository of Learning Modules for Deploying Simulation Technology in Mechanical Engineering Education

Abstract Computer-based simulation technology has rapidly become a key component of mechanical engineering (ME) practice. Commerical simulation packages are used by leading companies to design, analyze and understand complex engineering systems. To help modernize the curriculum and better prepare students for their careers, an online repository of learning modules called SimCafe is being developed for deploying industrial-strength simulation software in ME education. SimCafe currently has modules for learning Finite-Element Analysis (FEA) using ANSYS and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) using FLUENT. These modules are used in four courses across the ME curriculum at Cornell University. Each of these learning modules is built as a case study in applying simulation to a canonical problem. Basic modules such as flat plate boundary layer, forced convection in a pipe and plate-with-a-hole in tension connect readily with the existing undergraduate curriculum. Students compare the computational results with corresponding theory or experiments. The case studies not only teach students how to apply simulation appropriately but also simultaneously enhance the learning of engineering fundamentals through the interactive, visual interface provided by the software. SimCafe is a wiki, enabling easy collaboration among community members in developing and disseminating content for teaching simulation technology. Any registered user with appropriate privileges can create, edit and upload content to the site using his or her web browser, without the need for additional software. The site provides templates that contributors can use to create online tutorials for FEA and CFD applications. These templates structure the learning process so as to incorporate “best practices” in the use of simulation, with special emphasis on verification and validation. As students encounter the same best-practices approach repeatedly for problems across the ME curriculum, they are likely to internalize it and carry it into their careers. All SimCafe content is licensed under a Creative Commons agreement that allows free sharing and remixing for non-commercial use. At a recent university-industry workshop on the integration of simulation into engineering curricula, the idea of a central wiki-based repository of simulation learning modules was broadly endorsed. We invite community members to contribute content to SimCafe including tutorials, homework problems and quizzes so as to develop it into a comprehensive resource for ME educators.

1. Introduction Computer simulation has emerged as a fundamentally new approach for solving engineering problems, one that promises to revolutionize the way engineering is conducted in the twenty-first century. Within the last fifteen years, advanced simulation has become an integral part of design, analysis and research in engineering. The increasingly widespread use of simulation has been enabled by the dramatic reduction in the cost of computing hardware and the maturing of off-the-

Bhaskaran, R. (2010, June), Simcafe: A Wiki Based Repository Of Learning Modules For Deploying Simulation Technology In Mechanical Engineering Education Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16241

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