Asee peer logo

Teaching Enhancement In Undergraduate Thermodynamics Ii

Download Paper |


2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Mechanical Engineering Poster Session

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1164.1 - 13.1164.10



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

X. Chang Li Lamar University

author page

Kendrick Aung Lamar University

author page

Jiang Zhou Lamar University

author page

Xuejun Fan Lamar University

Download Paper |

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

Teaching Enhancement in Undergraduate Thermodynamics II


One of the core courses for most of the undergraduate students in Mechanical Engineering is Thermodynamics II, which, as an extension of the basic knowledge in Thermodynamics I, generally covers the typical cycles and processes for power generation, refrigeration, and air conditioning. To enable the students understand the fundamental concepts more easily, this paper discusses a list of enhancement in teaching this course. For example, there are many gas power cycles, such as Carnot cycle, Otto cycle and Diesel cycle. Presenting each cycle one at a time makes it very difficult for students to memorize the difference. However, it is seen that all the well-known reversible cycles (Carnot, Ericsson and Stirling) can be integrated into one T-s diagram (or a P-v diagram) so that the students can learn and remember these cycles by comparing them to each other. Similar integration can also be made for the standard ideal cycles, i.e., the Otto, Diesel, and Brayton cycles. Another example is that when the various air- conditioning processes are introduced, one point in the middle of psychrometric chart is usually selected as the reference point. An arrow from the reference point to the left is labeled as cooling and to the right as heating. An alternative is to make an arrow to the reference point from the left as heating and from the right as cooling. In this way, the reference point will represent the desired conditions, and all the arrows to the reference point will be the tasks to be done for different surrounding conditions. Different groups of students are surveyed to assess the improvement, and the students’ feedback is included in this paper. Additional consideration to reinforce the teaching/learning process is also covered.


Thermodynamics is an important curriculum for undergraduates in Mechanical Engineering, and it is often taught in two semesters: Thermodynamics I covers the basic concepts and principles while more practical items, such as different gas and vapor power cycles, the refrigeration cycles and air conditioning processes, are discussed in Thermodynamics II. As in many other subjects, instructors of thermodynamics have been searching a better way for the teaching/learning process. For example, Lype1 in 1976 tried to incorporate more mathematical formulation in the fundamental Clausius-Thermodynamics, although the reversible processes, mechanical cycles, and the properties of specific substances were strictly classified into the area of applications. In recent years the discussion on this topic became even more active due to the modern Internet technologies and software development. New methodologies have been proposed and techniques on instructing some special concepts are also presented.

As a general instructional pedagogy to help students develop self-confidence and creativity, the problem-based learning (PBL) has been tested in the teaching of thermodynamics. Learning is implemented through asking and obtaining answers for questions that are open-ended and challenging. Carlson2 applied the problem-based learning (PBL) approach to teach the first course in Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics. PBL approach was compared to an active learning approach and a traditional lecture in terms immediately before and after the PBL term

Li, X. C., & Aung, K., & Zhou, J., & Fan, X. (2008, June), Teaching Enhancement In Undergraduate Thermodynamics Ii Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4245

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2008 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015