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Teaching the Fundamentals of Thermodynamics and Fluid Mechanics Through an Integrated Systems Approach

[+] Author Affiliations
Daisie D. Boettner, Seth A. Norberg, Richard V. Melnyk, Justin L. Highley, Michael J. Rounds, A. Özer Arnas

United States Military Academy

Paper No. IMECE2006-13815, pp. 81-89; 9 pages
  • ASME 2006 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Innovations in Engineering Education: Mechanical Engineering Education, Mechanical Engineering Technology Department Heads
  • Chicago, Illinois, USA, November 5 – 10, 2006
  • Conference Sponsors: Mechanical Engineering Education, Mechanical Engineering Technology Department Heads
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4781-0 | eISBN: 0-7918-3790-4


The mechanical engineering faculty at the United States Military Academy recently implemented an integrated, two-course thermal-fluid systems sequence that presents fundamental thermodynamics and fluid mechanics topics. Instructors introduce students to these topics by exploring operational aspects of five complex systems: a helicopter, a power plant, a total air-conditioning system, an automotive system, and a high performance aircraft. Additionally, both courses incorporate laboratories, demonstrations and hands-on educational aids, design projects, and self-learning opportunities to reinforce understanding of fundamental concepts. Results from the first year the sequence was taught indicate students prefer learning topics from a global perspective and integrating thermodynamics and fluid mechanics topics reinforces student learning and retention of fundamental concepts. Challenges to teaching an integrated thermal-fluid systems sequence include lack of availability of textbooks that present thermodynamics and fluid mechanics topics in a truly integrated manner and establishing equivalency of courses within the integrated sequence with courses taught at other universities for those students on semester exchange programs.



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