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Impact and Outcomes of a Flow Visualization Course

[+] Author Affiliations
Jean Hertzberg, Alex Sweetman

University of Colorado, Boulder, CO

Paper No. FEDSM2009-78480, pp. 269-275; 7 pages
  • ASME 2009 Fluids Engineering Division Summer Meeting
  • Volume 2: Fora
  • Vail, Colorado, USA, August 2–6, 2009
  • Conference Sponsors: Fluids Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4373-4 | eISBN: 978-0-7918-3855-6
  • Copyright © 2009 by ASME


For the past six years, a course on flow visualization has been offered to mixed teams of graduate and undergraduate engineering and fine arts photography students at the University of Colorado. The course has significant technical content on flow visualization and photographic techniques, and includes some emphasis on documentation and the interpretation of results, particularly with respect to atmospheric dynamics as revealed by clouds. What makes this course unusual is the emphasis on the production of images for aesthetic purposes: for art. While a number of art/science collaborations are growing worldwide, both in professional and academic communities, typically scientists are expected to contribute technical support while artists produce art. A particularly unusual aspect of this course is that all students are expected to demonstrate both aesthetic sensibility and scientific discipline. Another is that students are not constrained to study specific phenomena or use specific techniques; instead, creativity is required. A major outcome from this course is a series of stunning images. In addition, anecdotal evidence suggests that this course has a lasting impact on students’ perception of fluid physics, which can be contrasted to the effect of traditional introductory fluids courses. This raises the question of whether this impact is significant with respect to students’ understanding and appreciation of fluid mechanics, and if so, what aspect of the flow visualization course is most important? A survey instrument is being designed to quantify whether students’ awareness of fluid mechanics in the world around them changes when they take these courses and if students’ attitudes towards fluids is changed when they take these courses.

Copyright © 2009 by ASME



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