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MEEG331: Fluid Mechanics I

Fall 2008

Liyun Wang
204 Spencer Lab, x2659
Office Hours: Mon 3:00 – 4:00 pm

Harman Khare (Laboratory tutor/Grading lab reports/Office hours)
131 A Spencer Lab, x 4078 (phone)
Office Hours: MW 11-12

Arun Agrawal (Laboratory tutor/Grading lab reports/Office hours)
328 Spencer Lab, x 6576 (phone)
Office Hours: MW 11-12


  • To illustrate the physical concepts of fluid flows developed in class.
  • To introduce experimental techniques for fluid mechanics.
  • To demonstrate the limitations and applicability of theory.
  • To encourage creativity in the use of experimental apparatus and data-acquisition.
  • To foster self-reliance required for open-ended experiments and reduce dependence on a cookbook approach.
  • To develop the ability for team work.
  • To develop effective communication of technical information.
  • To develop computer skills for acquiring data, data reduction, error analysis, and plotting.


A total of five experiments will be performed (once every other week) during the semester by students working in teams of 5. Each group will acquire a common set of data for a particular experiment, and each group will submit a single lab report.

Students must study the lab handout thoroughly before arriving at the lab session. The TA's job is not to do the experiment for you. Instead, the TA will familiarize you with the equipment and software. You will need to decide for yourself, how best to collect the data to answer the questions posed in the handout. Of course, some hints will be provided to get you on your way. The TA will use his judgment to determine at what point a group is ready to proceed on its own.

Experiments will be performed in the Oceans Engineering Laboratory (the large shed-like structure behind Penny Hall, adjoining the parking lot at Lovett and Academy).

List of experiments: (in chronological sequence)

Lab Groups & Schedule

Pre-Lab Strategy

Before arriving at the lab session, students must read the lab hand-out and completely understand the phenomena they will investigate and the procedure to do so. Such preparation will make for a smoother and more fruitful lab experience.

Student teams should get together well before a lab session and plan their data acquisition procedure. A key outcome of the pre-lab preparation is an experimental data-sheet listing all the quantities that will be measured (and how many times) for each specific experimental objective. The row and column headings will prove that adequate thought has gone into planning the experimental procedure. Please obtain the TA's signature on this data-sheet as soon as you arrive at the lab. The TA will conduct a short quiz (oral) at the start of each lab to verify that all lab members have read and understood the lab hand-out.

Lab Report

Each lab group will turn in a single report for each experiment. Reports must be typed. Reports should be concise but complete. Use your own words; verbatim copying of the hand-out should be avoided. Do not pad the length of a report unnecessarily.

The report should contain the following sections:

  • Title page
    • Title of experiment
    • Group ID; names of group members
    • Date experiment was performed
    • Date report was submitted
  • Objectives (will be provided by instructor)
  • Theoretical background
    • What principle is this experiment designed to illustrate?
    • Describe the theory and any relevant equations/derivations.
  • Equipment
    • Describe all components used during the experiment.
    • Include a neat schematic diagram with all parts labeled and dimensioned (as required). Copying sections of a report, or sharing sketches with other groups is not permitted.
    • Provide a definition of all symbols used.
  • Procedure
    • For each objective in a given experiment:
      • Initial setup
      • Procedure
      • Parameters varied
  • Results
    • Raw data should be arranged in tabular form. Some data may be tabulated in the Appendix.
    • A completely worked-out sample calculation is required for repetitive calculations.
    • Use MS Excel (or any other spreadsheet program) for tabulation and plotting graphs.
  • Error analysis
    • Perform an analysis to show how all the individual errors in your measurement contribute to the total error in the final quantity. (See error analysis handout for an example.)
    • Suggest ways to reduce error in the final result.
  • Discussion and conclusions
    • What did you learn from this experiment?
    • What discrepancies did you notice between theory and experiment?
    • What would you do to improve it?
  • Appendices
    • Include copies of all notes taken during the experiment: (1) Name of data recorder, (2) group members present, (3) date, (4) all data recorded, including brief comments to help you later during data reduction and analysis. Do not use erasers during note-taking (just draw a line through your mistake and proceed).
  • Samples of good lab reports
    • Sample 1: Nice schematics, neat raw data sheet design, clear derivation of detailed formula used in calculation, but error analysis can be improved
    • Sample 2: Nice schematics, clear identification of parameters used in calculation, typed equations, good error analysis. Data sheet can be improved.
    • Sample 3: Nice schematics, neat raw data sheet design, detailed formula and sample calculations, good error analysis. Small errors in discussion.

Grading of Reports

Fulfilling basic requirements listed above (neatness and professionalism is key) will fetch the group an automatic 6 points on a scale of 10. The remaining points will be awarded on the basis of merit including the organization of thoughts, illuminating discussion, and excellence of error analysis.

Lab reports are due no later than two weeks after performing the experiment (before the next experiment). An exception will be the last experiment which will be due one week later. Late reports will be penalized, 0.5 points for every late day. Lab attendance is absolutely necessary. 5 points are automatically deducted from your individual grade you miss a lab session. Be prepared to each lab session. Your performance in the oral quiz prior to the experiment will be factored in your individual grade.

A Peer Evaluation Form will be used to allow students to rank their own contribution, and that of their fellow team members, to the overall lab effort and the resulting lab report. Each individual's ranking is averaged, assigned a numerical value, and used as a multiplier on the team grade, to extract an individual grade. This mechanism will be used to differentiate and appropriately reward individual efforts. (You may be interested to know that companies often use such peer evaluations to calculate annual raises.)

Grading concerns should be addressed to the TAs.

Design Experiment

Each team will design one experiment to demonstrate any principle in fluid mechanics of your choice. You may draw upon the knowledge gained from your ongoing course in fluid mechanics for possibilities. Rather than leaving this for the very end, teams will be asked to submit a title with a one-page abstract during October, followed by a full and complete laboratory hand-out during the last week of class. The finished product should resemble the hand-outs that you receive before every lab. It should contain the title, objective, theoretical background, figures, equipment, procedure, points for discussion, and error analysis. Each team will be graded for an original idea that stimulates learning of key concepts of fluid mechanics, attention to experimental detail, and completeness and readability of the laboratory hand-out. It is possible that a particularly interesting and clever design will be built as an actual experiment in future years, and your lab hand-out should be immediately usable by students who are to perform the experiment that you designed.


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