Remote Fluid Mechanics Laboratory

TitleRemote Fluid Mechanics Laboratory
Faculty/College/UnitApplied Science
StatusCompleted
Duration2 Year
Initiation04/01/2003
Completion03/31/2005
Funding Details
Year 1: Project YearYear 1
Year 1: Funding Year2003/2004
Year 1: Project TypeSmall TLEF
Year 1: Principal InvestigatorSusan Nesbit
Year 1: Funded Amount20,300
Year 1: Summary

The Remote Fluid Mechanics Laboratory will develop a student controlled remote laboratory that demonstrates important fundamental principles of Fluid Mechanics. The laboratory will be available via the Internet. Much of the project design and implementation will be completed as part of a design project by 3rd or 41h students in the Integrated Engineering Program.

Students of Fluid Mechanics are challenged by the fundamental relationships between fluid velocity and fluid pressure as described in Bernoulli's and other equations. The student's understanding of both the physical phenomenon and the mathematical model of the phenomenon often remain weak. The mathematical relationship is explained in lectures, but a full understanding of the relationship and its connection with the physical phenomenon can only come with laboratory experience. However, during hands-on experiments, students are simultaneously learning laboratory "know-how", the challenges of group work, and the fundamental physical phenomenon underlying Fluid Mechanics.

To enhance and strengthen an understanding of the relationships that describe fluid flow and the physical phenomenon, it would be helpful to provide students with an interactive learning experience that allows important Fluid Mechanics experiments to be performed remotely via a real-time computer link to controllers that operate relatively simple laboratory equipment. Each student would have the opportunity to watch via real time video images, as they instruct the computer in the laboratory to perform specific tasks that demonstrate and test Fluid Mechanics principles. The project focuses on increasing the student's intuitive sense of the relationship between principles, equations and physical phenomenon. This ability for students to strengthen their understanding of mathematical model that they have learned in the classroom will allow them to experience more deeply the "hands-on" Fluid Mechanics laboratories that they explore in subsequent courses. It is envisioned that the remote laboratory experience proposed here will complement the classroom introduction and enhance, rather than replace, the subsequent "hands-on" experience.

Year 2: Project YearYear 2
Year 2: Funding Year2004/2005
Year 2: Project TypeSmall TLEF
Year 2: Principal InvestigatorSusan Nesbit
Year 2: Funded Amount12,000
Year 2: Summary

This proposal will further develop the remote fluid mechanics laboratory to improve the user interface and learner experience and to build specific instructional modules.

This proposal builds on the successes of the project funded by the TLEF in 2003, which allowed the initial development of the infrastructure for the Remote Fluid Mechanics Laboratory. We have completed the design and construction of all necessary infrastructure pieces, including flow loops, flow visualization components, remote control software and preliminary interface components during the summer of 2003. The Remote Fluid Mechanics Laboratory has been used in the Integrated General Engineering Program during the fall semester 2003.

The pedagogical importance of the project was clearly stated in last year's application: "To enhance and strengthen an understanding of the relationships that describe fluid flow and the physical phenomenon itself, it would be helpful to provide students with an interactive learning experience that allows important Fluid Mechanics experiments to be performed remotely via a real-time computer link to controllers that operate relatively simple laboratory equipment. The conservation of energy is fundamentally important to the understanding of fluid mechanics. It is discussed in many engineering courses including Introduction to Fluid Mechanics: MECH 280, CHBE 251, and CIVL 215 (For example, in Civil 215, Bernoulli's equation and other mathematical expressions of the conservation of energy is discussed in 15 of 35 lectures.)"