(396j) A Cross-Discipline Heat Exchanger Project

Englert, D. L., University of Kentucky
Maddox, J. F., University of Kentucky
Due to the cross-disciplinary nature of modern day engineering, it is necessary for students to gain strong communication, interpersonal, and teamwork skills in order to be prepared for successful careers in industry. Through project based learning, students in different courses and majors interacted with each other to work on different aspects of a common problem. After an initial offering of a cross-disciplinary heat exchanger project that required chemical engineering students and mechanical engineering students to work together in a simulated consulting environment, modifications to the project were made to improve the learning experience for the students in the second iteration of the project.

The project was assigned to junior level chemical engineering students in CME 425: Heat and Mass Transfer. They were asked to design a basic shell and tube heat exchanger and to solicit designs for a compact heat exchanger from junior level mechanical engineering students in ME 325: Elements of Heat Transfer. The mechanical engineering groups acted as consulting firms, with the burden of communication between the groups being placed on the students.

The reporting requirements for the mechanical engineering students were reduced between the first and second iterations to require a more appropriate level of effort from the students. In both iterations, an initial meeting was held between the client groups and consultant groups to establish the parameters of the project. However, all follow-up questions were communicated through technical memos. Preliminary design proposals were submitted by the consulting groups half-way through the project, at which point the client groups had the opportunity to address any misconceptions. At the end of the project, both the client and consultant groups presented their work to the class and submitted a technical memo to the instructor detailing their calculations.

In the first iteration of the project, the consultant groups were allowed to choose any flow configuration for their compact heat exchanger. While this led to many interesting designs, it also resulted in the many of the students attempting to analyze systems that were beyond the scope of an undergraduate heat transfer course. In the second iteration, A set of design constraints were placed on the students, requiring them to design a counter flow heat exchanger with rectangular channels. They were allowed to modify geometric parameters: including wall thickness, channel size, and number of channels. This limited the scope of the project, which ensured that the students would be attempting a problem that could be solved using the tools provided in the textbook and covered in class.

Students completed surveys to determine their perspectives on the project, any skills gained, and their attitudes towards the other engineering discipline. Here we present the details of the project, and the outcomes of the project after the second iteration changes.