Thermal design was incorporated into an undergraduate heat transfer course through a multistage design project. The students were tasked with designing water channels to be cut in an aluminum block using a wire electrical discharge machining (EDM) process. The students begin the process by analyzing the internal channels as a one dimensional array of fins using traditional analysis and correlations and Engineering Equation Solver (EES) to perform the calculations. Working in groups of two, the students conduct several parametric studies and develop a preliminary design using an array of fins method. The requirements for the design included outcomes that had to be met, along with weighting factors for key aspects of the design such as thermal performance, pressure drop, fabrication cost and volumetric flow rate. Next, the students analyze their preliminary design using SolidWorks flow simulation and compare their results to the one dimensional array of fins analysis. The groups then begin the process of refining their design using SolidWorks flow simulation to predict key parameters. Finally, the students select their best design which is fabricated using a wire EDM machine. The heat sinks are tested using a single experimental apparatus and the best design is determined based on the original requirements. The project is first introduced when the students are covering resistor networks and the analysis of an array of fins. The computational aspect of the project begins after the students have covered steady state conduction using finite difference methods. Using the computational results the students plot the heat transfer coefficient on the surface of the channel, which complements the lectures on internal developing flows.

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