Simulation assignments were given to mechanical engineering students enrolled in multiple sections of an introductory fluid mechanics course. While some students were exposed to 3-4 simulations in a pre-requisite thermodynamics course, the majority had no prior simulation experience. The main goal of this study was to expand on implementation of simulations in undergraduate courses, and better understand the appropriate balance in student load. The latter includes selection, number, and the depth of assignments, as well as credit given to these assignments, all of which influence student skill building, understanding of material, and problem-solving performance.
This paper aims to address: (1) comparison of student load related to assignments, and (2) assessment of student understanding of select theoretical concepts. For the comparison of student load, highlighted differences in the course sections include: (a) number of simulation assignments (none, 5 or 10), (b) number of application assignments (none or 3), and (c) the credit given to these assignments (zero, 15%, or some extra credit). For assessment of students’ understanding and confidence in comprehension of select concepts, the following will be employed: quizzes/grades, and responses via survey.
We will also highlight one topic common to fluid mechanics, heat transfer, and an associated laboratory course: external flow over bluff and streamlined bodies. Students simulate the flow past a cylinder and/or airfoil, and design an app to investigate how various parameters impact lift and/or drag experienced by an object. Finally, laboratory experiments allow comparison of simulation results with experimental data.
In summary, our study reports on the implementation and assessment of simulation assignments in lecture-based fluid mechanics course. The paper will (1) describe simulation assignments, (2) compare their frequency and depth in multiple sections, and (3) illustrate students’ achieving of learning outcomes with quantitative and qualitative data, as well as anecdotal feedback. This effort builds on authors’ previously reported work in collaborative and inquiry-based learning utilizing simulations and applications. Longitudinal studies are also possible given implementation of the aforementioned approaches in subsequent courses such as heat transfer and a heat transfer-fluid mechanics laboratory.
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