Development, accomplishment and evaluation of a project course in applied mechanics---Lessons learnt
Conference contribution, 2009
Development, accomplishment and evaluation of a project course in applied mechanics
M. Ander , T. Grönstedt, T. Abrahamsson and G. Johansson
This presentation concerns teaching and learning from working in projects within the Chalmers Master programme in Solid and fluid mechanics. The academic tradition requires teaching solid and fluid mechanics as separated subjects of applied mechanics. The researchers/teachers and students belonging to either discipline do not meet on daily basis and thus two separate cultures develop; CFD for fluids and FEM for solids.
However, in industry today fresh engineers will meet challenges in multidisciplinary problems and they are expected to be able to know how to treat them. As a remedy to better prepare for their engineering profession, a project course in applied mechanics has been developed.
The outline of the course follows the CDIO learning approach: Conceive, Design, Implement and Operate. Starting off from back of the envelope calculations, where all students are required to address all disciplines, the project proceeds towards distinct specializations. The students, divided into groups of six to seven members, focus on ‘student specialists’ roles in solid/structural mechanics-FEM, fluid dynamics, and experimental modal analysis EMA, simulating a true multidisciplinary working environment.
The projects studied incorporate a fluid structure interaction core problem, but are required to pose challenges within each specialisation. The task is formulated as a competition to find better solutions or as an investigation of existing methods to solve a problem at hand. The examination is based on individual assignments, group work, presentation of a final report and opposition. As resources for analysing the problems, the students have access to wind tunnel testing, EMA-equipment, computer rooms with commercial software for CFD and FEM. This year we have introduced the ANSYS workbench as a common platform for fluid–structure interaction simulations, allowing the teams to work more closely together.
The student perspective is dominated by the urge to approach real world problems with industrial tools. A better contact and understanding between students as well as between teachers/researchers in the different disciplines of applied mechanics are achieved by this approach. Some outstanding challenges are the limited time frame of the course, the time consuming communication required within the teachers team and the student frustration arising from having to address open end problems.