Innovations in Fluid Mechanics laboratory through the application of industrial scale equipment and educational software tools
Texas A&M University at Qatar, TAMUQ, is a newly funded school of engineering whose first class of undergraduate students graduated in 2008. As the university is located in the heart of the Middle East, TAMUQ students are primarily from neighboring and Asian countries with very diverse educational and cultural backgrounds. Teaching engineering sciences in such a new and culturally diverse environment introduces many opportunities for innovation. However, there are many challenges that are unique to TAMUQ. Because of their varied backgrounds and pre-college educational experience, students find it more difficult to link classroom theory with physical results and applications. Integration and application of coursework from one class to the next has also proven difficult. Learning Thermo-Fluid materials for many engineering students can be daunting, no matter their previous background. Thermo-Fluid laboratories are often the first place students have a chance to make the physical real-world connection between the theory learned in class and actual application. In some Fluid Mechanics laboratory experiments are conducted using off-the-shelf educational stations. Our approach is to integrate the Fluid Mechanics laboratory with industrial equipment and tools in order to allow students to engage their classroom based theoretical knowledge in an industry-like setting. Junior level students design digital data acquisition systems in conjunction with more traditional physical sensors in order to accomplish their laboratory goals. Students will also apply commercially available software to design and conduct an experiment in the laboratory. Students are required to conduct simulations for a real case flow field using commercially available software then validate the results using the industrial scale systems in the lab. The use of industrial scale equipment, application of both automated and manual measurement devices, and application of simulation in experiments is a new challenge for the Regional students. This paper introduces the newly built Fluid Mechanics Laboratory at TAMUQ and discuses the experimentation scheme used in the laboratory. © American Society for Engineering Education, 2010.
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