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Using Familiar Analogies to Teach Fundamental Concepts in Thermo-Fluids Courses

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Thermodynamics, Fluids, and Heat Transfer II

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1617.1 - 22.1617.9



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Paper Authors


Andrew L. Gerhart Lawrence Technological University

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Andrew Gerhart, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Lawrence Technological University. He is actively involved in ASEE, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the Engineering Society of Detroit. He serves as Faculty Advisor for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Student Chapter at LTU, chair for the LTU Leadership Curriculum Committee, director of the LTU Thermal Science Laboratory, coordinator of the Certificate in Energy & Environmental Management and Certificate/Minor in Aeronautical Engineering, and member of the ASME PTC committee on Air-Cooled Condensers.

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Philip M. Gerhart P.E. University of Evansville

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Philip M. Gerhart holds a B.S.M.E. from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He is a registered professional engineer in Indiana and Ohio. He was a professor of Mechanical engineering at the University of Akron from 1971 to 1984, chair of the Department of Mechanical and Civil Engineering at the University of Evansville from 1985 to 1995 and has been Dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science since 1995. Dr. Gerhart is a member of the American Society for Engineering Education and a Fellow Member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers He served as ASME’s Vice-President for Performance Test Codes from 1998 to 2001.

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Using Familiar Analogies to Teach Fundamental Concepts in Thermal and Fluids CoursesAbstractBy the time engineering students enroll into Thermodynamics, Fluid Mechanics, and HeatTransfer courses, they are relatively savvy with math and basic science concepts. Therefore, thecalculations required in the Thermal-Fluids courses are not especially difficult. Conversely,many of the fundamental concepts and physical understanding of energy, fluid mechanics, andheat are difficult to grasp. The students have observed solid mechanical kinematics anddynamics first-hand all of their lives, but energy, fluid flow, and heat flow are not readily visibleand apparent to the eyes.With this in mind, a useful method to explain the concepts is via everyday/familiar/folksyanalogies. This paper contains a sampling of some analogies that can be used to teach thermalfluid concepts as varied as entropy, the no-slip condition, velocity profiles & boundary layers,numerical marching solutions for heat flow, and more. The authors also offer advice for creatingyour own analogies, and intend for the reader to be encouraged to add to the growing list ofteaching analogies.

Gerhart, A. L., & Gerhart, P. M. (2011, June), Using Familiar Analogies to Teach Fundamental Concepts in Thermo-Fluids Courses Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18860

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