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Updates to a Sequence of Fluids Lab Experiments for Mechanical Engineering Technology Students

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Division Experimentation & Lab-oriented Studies: Mechanical Engineering and Control

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1633.1 - 26.1633.27



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Paper Authors


Roger A Beardsley PE Central Washington University

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Roger Beardsley is an associate professor of Mechanical Engineering Technology at Central Washington University, Ellensburg WA. He teaches classes in Thermodynamics, Fluids and Heat Transfer, among others. His professional interests include renewable energy, including biofuels.

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  Updates to a Sequence of Fluids Lab Experiments for Mechanical Engineering Technology StudentsThis paper presents an outline of fluids experiments and lab activities that accompany theintroductory fluids course for Mechanical Engineering Technology juniors at XXX University. Itoutlines and describes the current suite of fluids lab activities, comparing the current suite of labactivities to those outlined in an ASEE conference paper presented in 2001. Some lab activitiesin that paper have been replaced, while others have been updated. For example the Water FlowMeasurements Loop equipment has been converted from a large floor mounted system to aportable pallet based system. Also the emphasis of the experiment has evolved from evaluatingvarious flow measurement technologies to determining pump curves at variable RPM settings.Both the previous and current experiments have been found to be useful in bridging the gapbetween theory and practice. The experiments expose the student to modern instrumentation andthe collection and processing of data. Qualitative assessment of current student outcomes isaddressed with a student survey. The purpose of this paper is to present these lab activities sothat other fluids lab instructors may learn from our experience.      Introduction    At  CWU,  the  introductory  fluids  class  is  a  core  class  for  the  Mechanical  Engineering  Technology  (MET)  program.    Most  students  are  juniors  in  the  second  quarter  of  the  core  sequence  of  classes  in  the  major.  Though  students  may  have  touched  on  some  fluids  related  topics  in  Physics  classes,  this  is  their  first  engineering  fluids  class.  The  current  lab  activities  have  evolved  from  those  that  were  developed  in  the  late  1980s  and  partially  outlined  in  a  paper  by  Kaminski  (1)  in  2001.    In  reviewing  the  literature  on  the  topic  of  fluids  lab  activities,  it  becomes  apparent  that  many  engineering  programs  bundle  fluids  labs  with  thermodynamics  labs,  and  sometimes  even  include  heat  transfer  topics,  often  as  a  single  lab  class  in  senior  year  far  removed  from  the  original  thermodynamics  or  fluids  lecture  section.  While  these  topics  do  have  significant  interactions,  by  bundling  them  into  one  lab  class  there  is  a  limit  to  the  number  of  topics  that  can  be  explored.  In  the  Mechanical  Engineering  Technology  program  at  XXX,  each  core  course  has  a  lab  section  attached,  and  the  labs  are  performed  more  or  less  concurrently  with  the  related  discussion  in  the  lecture.    Lab  Activity  Work  Product    The  original  lab  activities  assigned  one  report  per  group.  While  the  group  report  format  helps  foster  team  building  and  cooperation,  it  commonly  results  in  one  student  burdened  with  the  bulk  of  the  work  in  preparing  the  report.  Group  reports  also  allow  students  who  are  weak  in  writing  skills  to  avoid  that  task.      The  work  product  assignment  has  been  revised  so  that  current  lab  activities  require  students  to  turn  in  individual  reports.  In  assigning  individual  reports  it  is  common  in  almost  every  class  to  identify  students  with  weak  writing  skills.    For  students  with  a  low  grammar  grade,  an  incentive  is  offered  to  change  the  grade  if  the  student  visits  the  campus  writing  center  for  help  in  revising  the  text.    The  work  product  for  the  current  lab  activities  is  the  full  format  lab  report  with  cover  sheet,  introduction,  procedure,  data,  results,  discussion,  conclusion,  references,  and  supporting  materials  in  the  appendix.      Summary  of  Previous  Lab  Activities    The  previous  suite  of  lab  experiments  was  originally  developed  for  the  CWU  MET  program  by  Kaminski  (1).  A  list  of  the  previous  lab  activities  is  outlined  in  the  Table  1.  These  activities  have  been  revised  or  replaced  based  on  equipment  improvements  and  perceived  effectiveness  in  student  learning.  The  work  product  for  each  of  these  was  a  single  group  lab  report.    An  example  of  the  revisions  to  the  labs  is  the  Water  Flow  Measurements  Loop  lab,  consisting  of  a  floor  mounted  500  gallon  tank,  a  440VAC  3  phase  Variable  Frequency  Drive  (VFD)  for  a  20  HP  induction  motor  driving  a  centrifugal  irrigation  pump.  This  equipment  consumed  significant  floor  space,  and  lost  its  home  during  a  recent  building  remodel.  In  2012  a  student  senior  project  redesigned  this  lab  with  a  5  HP  irrigation  pump  and  corresponding  VFD  operating  off  the  available  220VAC  3  phase  power.  The  new  lab  equipment  fits  on  a  single  pallet  structure  containing  the  pump,  piping  and  various  flow  meters,  with  a  1000  liter  Intermediate  Bulk  Container  (pallet  footprint)  for  water  supply  that  stores  on  top  when  empty.  The  equipment  is  now  portable  and  more  flexible  to  configure,  and  has  been  used  as  a  resource  for  high  flow  rate  fluids  testing  for  other  projects.     Lab  Activities  documented  by  Kaminski  (1):   1.      Water  Flow  Measurements  Loop   2.      Six  Inch  Air  Flow  Tunnel   3.      Instrumented  Torricelli  Experiment   Other  Fluids    lab  activities    performed  but  not  documented:   4.      Buoyancy  Lab   5.      Fluid  Viscosity  Lab   6.          Table  1:    Previous  Fluids  Lab  Activities      Outline  of  Current  Lab  Activities    The  current  suite  of  lab  activities  includes  six  different  activities,  summarized  in  Table  2.  The  student  work  product  for  these  labs  is  generally  a  full  format  lab  report  (title  page,  intro,  procedure,  data,  results,  discussion,  conclusion,  appendix  with  raw  data,  supporting  calc  and  info).  Thought  students  work  together  and  have  a  group  data  set,  and  sometimes  group  results  calculations,  each  student  must  write  his  own  report.  In  this  Paper,  current  lab  activities  are  outlined  following  the  table.  For  current  lab  activities  that  were  revised  from  previous  activities,  a  comparison  is  made.       Current  Lab  Activity  Titles   Work  Product   1.      Specific  Gravity  and  Density  Lab   Technical  Memo     2.      Viscosity  Lab   Individual  Lab  Report   3.      Buoyancy  Lab   Individual  Lab  Report   4.      Torricelli  Experiment   Individual  Lab  Report   5.      Pump  Performance  Lab   Individual  Lab  Report   6.      Self-­‐Designed  Experiment   Individual  Lab  Report    Table  2:    Current  Fluids  Lab  Activities    What  follows  is  a  brief  outline  and  discussion  of  each  of  the  current  lab  activities,  with  comparison  to  the  related  previous  lab  where  appropriate.  The  appendix  includes  more  detailed  information  about  the  current  labs,  including  the  assignment  sheets  and  typical  data  from  the  experiments.    Lab  1:  Specific  Gravity  &  Density  Lab    Lab  2:  Viscosity  Lab    Lab  3:  Buoyancy  Lab    Lab  4:  Torricelli  Experiment    Lab  5:  Pump  Performance  Lab      Lab  6:  Self  Designed  Experiment            References    (1)  Kaminski,  Walter  R:  Fluid Mechanics Facilities and Experiments for the MechanicalEngineering Technology Student  Paper  AC2001-­‐2526  

Beardsley, R. A. (2015, June), Updates to a Sequence of Fluids Lab Experiments for Mechanical Engineering Technology Students Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24969

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