Using Design, Build, and Test Projects in a Wind Tunnel to Improve Engineering Education
Engineering - Mechanical (56)
This project features a unique type of student project that has been evolving at the University of Idaho for the past eight years. This type of project, entitled the "Design Build and Test (DBT) Project," has a simple theme: the best way to learn engineering is by doing engineering. Our central idea is to evolve the DBT project to a higher level of quality. DBT project development will involve lower division courses, with emphasis on recruiting, retention and development of professional skills. A new wind tunnel is the focus of this synergistic effort combining laboratory improvement with course and curriculum improvement. Projects for the wind tunnel are adapted from several sources: Penn State Behrand (boundary layer experiment), Michigan State University (flow visualization, drag experiment, mini project), Washington State University (special projects), and the Intel Corporation (heat sinks for microprocessors).
Our specific aims are (i) to create a superb wind tunnel facility, (ii) to adapt wind tunnel experiments such as flow visualization and measuring drag to DBT projects, (iii) to develop curriculum materials that support the adaptation, and (vi) to assess and disseminate results.
DBT projects feature math modeling, design, prototype construction, followed by testing. Each project involves the proposed wind tunnel. DBT projects are designed using a common format, and the resulting projects, though small in scale, contain many of the elements typical of a capstone design project. While working on a DBT project, students are immersed in a mentoring environment that creates ownership and pride of workmanship. At the end of a project, students display their work at a design show.
At the completion of this work, we envision an outstanding educational practice (the DBT project), quality assessment data, and detailed project resources that are organized into a book. In the long-term, this work provides a design pedagogy that is meaningful and integrated throughout the curriculum, allowing students to learn design in the most natural way--by repetition of experience.