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The Rise of Simulations in a Junior-level Fluid Mechanics Course

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


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Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Mechanical Engineering Technical Session: Fluid Mechanics

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Kamau Wright University of Hartford

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Kamau Wright is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Hartford. He specializes in thermo-fluids and plasma engineering. His technical research interests include applications of high voltage plasma discharges to liquids and wastewaters; plasma decomposition of carbon dioxide; fouling prevention and mitigation for heat exchangers; oxidation of organic matter in water; and inactivation of bacteria using high voltage plasmas.

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Ivana Milanovic University of Hartford

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Dr. Milanovic is a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Hartford, with ongoing research programs in vortical flows, computational fluid dynamics, multiphysics modeling and inquiry-based learning. Dr. Milanovic is a contributing author for more than 100 journal articles, NASA reports, conference papers and software releases. Dr. Milanovic is an American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Fellow. She is also a member of the American Institute of Aeronautcs and Astronautics (AIAA), and the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE).

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Tom A. Eppes University of Hartford

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Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering
Ph.D. Elec. Engr., University of Michigan
MSEE, BSEE, Texas A&M University

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Simulation assignments were given to mechanical engineering students enrolled in multiple sections of an introductory fluid mechanics course. While some students were exposed to 3-4 simulations in a pre-requisite thermodynamics course, the majority had no prior simulation experience. The main goal of this study was to expand on implementation of simulations in undergraduate courses, and better understand the appropriate balance in student load. The latter includes selection, number, and the depth of assignments, as well as credit given to these assignments, all of which influence student skill building, understanding of material, and problem-solving performance. This paper aims to address: (1) comparison of student load related to assignments, and (2) assessment of student understanding of select theoretical concepts. For the comparison of student load, highlighted differences in the course sections include: (a) number of simulation assignments (none, 5 or 10), (b) number of application assignments (none or 3), and (c) the credit given to these assignments (zero, 15%, or some extra credit). For assessment of students’ understanding and confidence in comprehension of select concepts, the following will be employed: quizzes/grades, and responses via survey. We will also highlight one topic common to fluid mechanics, heat transfer, and an associated laboratory course: external flow over bluff and streamlined bodies. Students simulate the flow past a cylinder and/or airfoil, and design an app to investigate how various parameters impact lift and/or drag experienced by an object. Finally, laboratory experiments allow comparison of simulation results with experimental data. In summary, our study reports on the implementation and assessment of simulation assignments in lecture-based fluid mechanics course. The paper will (1) describe simulation assignments, (2) compare their frequency and depth in multiple sections, and (3) illustrate students’ achieving of learning outcomes with quantitative and qualitative data, as well as anecdotal feedback. This effort builds on authors’ previously reported work in collaborative and inquiry-based learning utilizing simulations and applications. Longitudinal studies are also possible given implementation of the aforementioned approaches in subsequent courses such as heat transfer and a heat transfer-fluid mechanics laboratory.

Wright, K., & Milanovic, I., & Eppes, T. A. (2020, June), The Rise of Simulations in a Junior-level Fluid Mechanics Course Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35362

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