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Second Thermal and Fluids Engineering  Conference

ISSN: 2379-1748
ISBN: 978-1-56700-430-4

Using Spreadsheets for Teaching fluid mechanics and Heat Transfer




Abstract

This paper summarizes over a decade of using spreadsheets for teaching fluid mechanics and heat transfer. In a basic heat transfer course, the equations are derived but rarely solved, either because they do not have analytical solutions or the solution methods are beyond the scope of course. The final solutions are presented in an appropriate form, equation, tabular or chart from. Numerical solutions are an alternative, but their use generally require the students to be familiar either with a programming language or specialized software. Equation solvers have increasingly replaced courses covering FORTRAN, or C programming languages. The choice of what to use is primarily determined by the availability of the software and the preference of the faculty. The use of equation solvers still requires the familiarity with the software that can’t always be assumed. Spreadsheets provide an option that eliminates the need for learning a programming language, as most students have access to and are familiar with their use. They also provide a natural environment for numerical solutions, as each cell becomes a node. The built in plotting capabilities are also great help in presenting and understanding the results. In this paper, the author shares his experience in using spreadsheets for teaching heat transfer, showing how undergraduate students can easily obtain the solution to many otherwise difficult problems and study the impact of different parameters, and develop a much better feel for some of the very basic concepts.

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