A new course in the thermal science discipline was introduced in 1998 in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Carnegie Mellon University. The course was titled “Thermal Fluids Engineering” and some of the specific aims were to integrate and extend the students’ knowledge in the areas of heat transfer, thermodynamics and fluid mechanics and provide better preparation for their post-graduate endeavors. The development of this course was part of a larger curriculum re-design within both the Mechanical Engineering Department and the College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon.

The course was offered to students in the second semester of their third year, after they have taken thermodynamics, fluid mechanics and heat transfer in each of the previous three semesters. In addition to integrating the three basic thermal science disciplines, other novel aspects of this course included: a series of computational assignments in which finite-element models were applied to solve conjugate heat transfer problems; a series of laboratory experiments, one of which was used as the basis for the computational assignments; and a series of in-class “case studies” in which the students applied their integrated knowledge to the design and analysis of a complex system. Feedback from the students indicated that the integration aspect of the course was successful although there was still room for improvement in the structure and presentation of the material.

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