A laboratory based undergraduate course focused on energy systems and energy efficiency was developed at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences. The course is a practice-oriented introduction to fluid / energy systems, turbomachinery, and energy production. It is offered to the mechanical engineering as well as to the “Energy Systems” program students in the first semester. Main parts of the course are experiments and mini projects carried out in the fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, and turbomachinery laboratories. After an introduction of (1) the basic theory of the mass- and energy conservation equations as main governing laws for energy systems and (2) measurement techniques during the first two weeks, the students carry out experiments in small groups on different test rigs with the help of an instructor for about four weeks (each week a different test). The experiments and test rigs are selected considering different aspects of turbomachinery and energy systems. They cover hydraulic turbines, small wind turbines, a water pump, compressor, heat pump, combined heat and power system, fuel cell, solar energy, and combustion engine. Following a two weeks theory wrap up, the students start with mini projects again in small groups in the laboratory. The students are requested to do a new design or to carry out a design change or modification at an existing machine or test rig. They also need to test their new design or design modification. At the end the students have to do a presentation about the mini project results and write a short report.

The objectives of the course are first to introduce the laboratory environment to the students from the beginning of the curriculum. Further the experimental investigations on laboratory test rigs make the students familiar with the fundamentals, working principles, characteristics, operation, and application of turbomachinery and energy systems. They also learn the basics of energy conversion, conservation, and the importance of relevant performance parameters such as efficiency. The mini projects have direct practical relevance to real world problems and applications. From an educational viewpoint the students are introduced to team-work during the projects, project planning with execution, and they are learning by doing or by experiential learning. The students are actively involved in the mini projects and they can reflect their experience at the end of the course during the presentations. The implementation of the course is time consuming and costly but the feedback from the students is very positive although they are challenged by confronting real world energy systems and problems in the first semester.

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