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Using Travel and the Internet to Develop and Formulate Enhanced Homework Assignments

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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 I

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1650.1 - 22.1650.16



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Paper Authors


K. Hodge Mississippi State University

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B. K. Hodge is Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering at Mississippi State University (MSU) where he served as the TVA Professor of Energy Systems and the Environment and was a Giles Distinguished Professor and a Grisham Master Teacher. He is a Fellow of the American Society for Engineering Education and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

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Using Travel and the Internet to Develop and Formulate Enhanced HomeworkAssignmentsOne student criticism of homework and project exercises in engineering courses is theirlack of connection with the “real world.” The author has taught a required course inthermal systems design in Mechanical Engineering at Mississippi State University formany years and has endeavored to make assignments as realistic and credible aspossible. Over the last decade the realism has been enhanced by developinghomework exercises from engineering “accomplishments” observed on trips. Thispaper will delineate in detail the process of evolving an assignment based anengineering system observed on a trip. For example, during a trip to Toronto, a tourbus guide mentioned that Toronto used cold (4oC) lake water from the bottom of LakeOntario as a cooling medium for much of downtown Toronto. Very little otherinformation and no quantitative information were available from the guide. However, aGoogle search revealed significant details of the chilled water system installed inToronto. With these details, a design-oriented homework problem was developed. Theweb sites on the Toronto Deep Water Cooling System contained not only information,but color schematics and system diagrams. Use of such graphics enhances theprofessional appearance of problems and sharpen the interests of students. TheToronto system provided a homework exercise in meaningful series piping design bytaking quantitative information from the web and “reverse” working assigned problemsto ensure rational results. The steps were thus: (1) discovering the Toronto Deep WaterCooling System, (2) gathering and evaluating information on the system from the web,(3) reverse working several problems to ensure credible results, and (4) assigning aselected problem. In addition to the Toronto system, the author has developed similarexercises for engineering systems ranging from the Alaska pipeline, to several largeairport (DFW, DEN, ATL,…) cooling systems, to pumped storage hydro systems in theUnited States and Scotland, to heat recovery heat exchangers for combustion turbines,to the English Channel Tunnel, and, most recently, Fireboat 343 of the NYFD. Detailsof several examples will be developed and presented in the proposed paper. Althoughsuch a procedure could be used independently of visiting a site, engineeringaccomplishments of note are often part of the local tourist information.

Hodge, K. (2011, June), Using Travel and the Internet to Develop and Formulate Enhanced Homework Assignments Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18864

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