2009 Advanced Laboratories Conference Abstract Detail Page

Previous Page  |  New Search  |  Browse All

Abstract Title: Fluid Mechanics and Computational Physics in the Advanced Undergraduate Laboratory
Abstract: Fluid mechanics and structural mechanics play a small role in the vast majority of undergraduate physics programs.  However, many undergraduate students use their physics major as a stepping-stone towards graduate degrees in engineering or applied physics where these areas often play a more prominent role.  Professor Jerry Gollub stated in a December 2003 Physics Today article, "one of the oddities of contemporary physics education is the nearly complete absence of continuum mechanics in the typical undergraduate or graduate curriculum" and questioned how the physics academic community can justify this absence. In our program, fluid and structural mechanics experiments are integrated into an Applied Physics major option within the framework of the advanced laboratories accompanying course offerings in Fluid Mechanics and Computer Methods in Physics and Engineering.

Snapshots are presented from a variety of recent undergraduate projects in fluids and computational physics. The projects include wind tunnel and water tunnel studies employing a variety of flow visualization and fluid diagnostics techniques.  Computational studies represent a complementary approach in some of the projects and serve to enrich the advanced undergraduate laboratory experience. MATLAB and COMSOL Multiphysics software applications in these areas will be highlighted. Special attention will be given to advanced lab projects that have been carried out with a Mach 3 shock tunnel. These projects have focused on shock dynamics and compressible flow in the shock tube and tunnel test section and have included piezoelectric pressure measurements, dual-beam interferometry, shadowgraph and schlieren imaging in conjunction with corresponding computational studies.
Abstract Type: Invited Presentation
Session: Session VIII - Plenary

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Keith R. Stein
Department of Physics, Bethel University
St. Paul, MN 55112