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Optimizing the Curriculum in Thermodynamics and Heat Transfer With Better Labs, In-Class Demonstrations and Interesting Realistic Problems to Enhance Learning

[+] Author Affiliations
K. Larsen, A. Hossain, M. Weiser

Eastern Washington University, Cheney, WA

Paper No. IMECE2015-52264, pp. V005T05A028; 5 pages
  • ASME 2015 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 5: Education and Globalization
  • Houston, Texas, USA, November 13–19, 2015
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5742-7
  • Copyright © 2015 by ASME


The primary objective of a thermodynamic/heat transfer course is to provide the fundamental knowledge necessary to understand the behavior of thermal systems. A thermodynamic/heat transfer course provides a detailed calculus-based analysis of energy, entropy, exergy, conduction, convection, and radiation using these concepts to calculate the behavior and efficiencies of different processes and cycles. Proper conceptual and theoretical understanding of thermodynamics/heat transfer is very important to solve real life problems. In order to understand and properly use the concepts, it is necessary that there be effective labs and in-class demonstrations, as well as realistic problems to serve this purpose. Most thermodynamic/heat transfer courses have some labs and some courses use in-class demonstrations that attempt to apply what is being learned in the class room. How effective these labs and demonstrations are in helping the students understanding of the thermodynamic/heat transfer principles is questionable. To facilitate theoretical learning, instructors need to also solve a variety of interesting problems in thermodynamics/heat transfer, besides solving the conventional problems from the text book. Solving these realistic problems helps students to also enhance their conceptual understanding, and, motivate students to continue their learning. This paper describes an example of an interesting heat transfer problem that compares an analytical solution with that of an FEA solution to help engage the students in learning how to apply both approaches to a realistic problem. Furthermore, this paper discusses a series of labs that are currently used at Eastern Washington University (EWU) to help students apply what they are learning in a thermodynamic/heat transfer course. The labs at EWU are compared to a survey conducted at 25 universities to find other possible labs and in-class demonstrations. From this study, the best labs and in-class demonstrations will be discussed, explored, and implementation recommendations will be given.

Copyright © 2015 by ASME



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