Thermodynamics and Heat Powered Cycles : a Cognitive Engineering Approach.
Due to the rapid advances in computer technology, intelligent computer software and multimedia have become essential parts of engineering education. Software integration with various media such as graphics, sound, video and animation is providing efficient tools for teaching and learning. A modern textbook should contain both the basic theory and principles, along with an updated pedagogy.
Often traditional engineering thermodynamics courses are devoted only to analysis, with the expectation that students will be introduced later to relevant design considerations and concepts. Cycle analysis is logically and traditionally the focus of applied thermodynamics. Type and quantity are constrained, however, by the computational efforts required. The ability for students to approach realistic complexity is limited. Even analyses based upon grossly simplified cycle models can be computationally taxing, with limited educational benefits. Computerized look-up tables reduce computational labor somewhat, but modeling cycles with many interactive loops can lie well outside the limits of student and faculty time budgets.
The need for more design content in thermodynamics books is well documented by industry and educational oversight bodies such as ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology). Today, thermodynamic systems and cycles are fertile ground for engineering design. For example, niches exist for innovative power generation systems due to deregulation, co-generation, unstable fuel costs and concern for global warming.
Professor Kenneth Forbus of the computer science and education department at Northwestern University has developed ideal intelligent computer software for thermodynamic students called CyclePad* . CyclePad is a cognitive engineering software. It creates a virtual laboratory where students can efficiently learn the concepts of thermodynamics, and allows systems to be analyzed and designed in a simulated, interactive computer aided design environment. The software guides students through a design process and is able to provide explanations for results and to coach students in improving designs. Like a professor or senior engineer, CyclePad knows the laws of thermodynamics and how to apply them. If the user makes an error in design, the program is able to remind the user of essential principles or design steps that may have been overlooked. If more help is needed, the program can provide a documented, case study that recounts how engineers have resolved similar problems in real life situations. CyclePad eliminates the tedium of learning to apply thermodynamics, and relates what the user sees on the computer screen to the design of actual systems.
This integrated, engineering textbook is the result of fourteen semesters of CyclePad usage and evaluation of a course designed to exploit the power of the software, and to chart a path that truly integrates the computer with education. The primary aim is to give students a thorough grounding in both the theory and practice of thermodynamics. The coverage is compact without sacrificing necessary theoretical rigor. Emphasis throughout is on the applications of the theory to actual processes and power cycles. This book will help educators in their effort to enhance education through the effective use of intelligent computer software and computer assisted course work.
The book is meant to serve as the text for two semester courses of three credits each. It meets the needs of undergraduate degree courses in mechanical, aeronautical, electrical, chemical, environmental, industrial, and energy engineering, as well as in engineering science and courses in combined studies in which thermodynamics and related topics are an important part of the curriculum. Students of engineering technology and industrial engineers will also find portions of the book useful.
Classical thermodynamics is based upon the concept of “equilibrium”. This means that time as an independent variable does not appear in conventional engineering thermodynamics textbooks. Heat transfer texts deal with the rate of energy transfer, but do not cover cycles. In this text, a chapter on “Finite-time thermodynamics” bridges the gap between thermodynamics and heat transfer.
Attitudinal benefits were noted by Professor Wu while teaching CyclePad assisted thermodynamics, both at the U.S. Naval Academy and Johns Hopkins University. Today’s students tend to have a positive attitude toward computer assisted learning, quite a few describing the hands-on, interactive learning as “fun”. Material that is presented with a modern pedagogy is positively regarded, and tends to be better understood and retained. Further, an ability to execute realistically complicated cycle simulations builds confidence and a sense of professionalism.
Both CyclePad and this text contain pedagogical aids. The intelligent computer software switches to a warning-tutoring mode when users attempt to impose erroneous assumptions or perform inappropriate operations during cycle analyses. Chapter summaries review the more salient textbook points and provide cohesion. Homework problems and worked examples appear liberally throughout the text which reinforce the theory. Both SI and English units systems are used in the book.
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