Embedding Hands-on Mini Laboratory Experiences in a Core Undergraduate Fluid Mechanics Course: A Pilot Study

  • Duanduan Han Texas A&M University • College Station, Texas
  • Victor Ugaz Texas A&M University • College Station, Texas

Abstract

Three self-contained mini-labs were integrated into a core undergraduate fluid mechanics course, with the goal of delivering hands-on content in a manner scalable to large class sizes. These mini-labs supported learning objectives involving friction loss in pipes, flow measurement, and centrifugal pump analysis. The hands-on experiments were designed to be completed in 50-minute time blocks, and companion assignments involving data analysis were structured with a workload comparable to regular homework problems. Students booked time on the experiment apparatus using an online signup tool. In addition to improved performance in the course, a post-assessment yielded positive feedback indicating that students gained confidence in solving engineering problems and identifying connections between theory and practice. The mini-lab model also eliminates the time delay between fundamental instruction in theory courses and subsequent application in dedicated unit operations laboratory classes.

Author Biographies

Duanduan Han, Texas A&M University • College Station, Texas

Duanduan Han is a Ph.D. candidate in the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M University. She received a B.S. in chemical engineering from Tianjin University, China. Her research interests include novel 3D-printed oil absorbents and fabrication of polymer-based microfluidic devices. She has engaged in numerous STEM teaching and outreach initiatives at both undergraduate and elementary school levels, and was selected to serve as a college-level graduate teaching fellow during the 2015-2016 academic year.


Victor Ugaz, Texas A&M University • College Station, Texas

Victor M. Ugaz is a professor and holder of the Charles D. Holland ’53 Professorship in the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M University. He is a recipient of the 2013 Association of Former Students Distinguished Teaching Award at Texas A&M and the 2008 Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award. His research focuses on transport and flow in microfluidic systems, microdevices for DNA analysis, convectively driven biochemical reactions, and materials and processes for fabrication of microfluidic devices.


Published
2017-07-07
Section
Manuscripts