The Department of Aeronautics at the United States Air Force Academy utilizes a closed-loop, two-dimensional turbine cascade wind tunnel to reinforce a learning-focused undergraduate thermo-propulsion sequence. While previous work presented in the literature outlined the Academy thermo-propulsion sequence and the contextual framework for instruction, this current paper addresses how the Academy turbine cascade facility is integrated into the aeronautical engineering course sequence. Cadets who concentrate in propulsion are to some extent prepared for each successive course through their contact with the cascade, and ultimately they graduate with an exposure to experimental research that enhances their grasp of gas turbine engine fundamentals. Initially, the cascade is used to reinforce airfoil theory to all cadets in the Fundamentals of Aeronautics course. Aeronautical engineering majors take this course during the first semester of their sophomore year. The next semester all aeronautical engineering majors take Introduction to Aero-thermodynamics. In this course, the closed-loop aspect of the cascade facility is used to reinforce concepts of work addition to the flow. Heat transfer is also discussed, using the heat exchanger that regulates test section temperature. Exposure to the cascade also prepares cadets for the ensuing Introduction to Propulsion and Aeronautics Laboratory courses, taken in the junior and senior year, respectively. In the propulsion course, cadets connect thermodynamic principles to component analysis. In the laboratory course, cadets work in pairs on propulsion projects sponsored by the Air Force Research Laboratory, including projects in the cascade wind tunnel. Individual cadets are selected from the cascade research teams for summer internships, working at an Air Force Research Laboratory turbine cascade tunnel. Ultimately, cadet experiences with the Academy turbine cascade help lay the foundation for a two-part senior propulsion capstone sequence in which cadets design a gas turbine engine starting with the overall cycle selection leading to component-level design. The turbine cascade also serves to integrate propulsion principles and fluid mechanics through a senior elective Computational Fluid Dynamics course. In this course, cadets may select a computational project related to the cascade. Cadets who complete the thermo-propulsion sequence graduate with a thorough understanding of turbine engine fundamentals from both conceptual and applied perspectives. Their exposure to the cascade facility is an important part of the process. An assessment of cadet learning is presented to validate the effectiveness of this integrated research-classroom approach.
- International Gas Turbine Institute
Integration of a Turbine Cascade Facility Into an Undergraduate Thermo-Propulsion Sequence
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Rouser, KP, Thorn, CR, Byerley, AR, Wisniewski, CF, Nowlin, SR, & Van Treuren, KW. "Integration of a Turbine Cascade Facility Into an Undergraduate Thermo-Propulsion Sequence." Proceedings of the ASME Turbo Expo 2013: Turbine Technical Conference and Exposition. Volume 4: Ceramics; Concentrating Solar Power Plants; Controls, Diagnostics and Instrumentation; Education; Electric Power; Fans and Blowers. San Antonio, Texas, USA. June 3–7, 2013. V004T08A002. ASME. https://doi.org/10.1115/GT2013-94744
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