Combining Simulation and Experiment to Determine Fluid Forces in the Fluid Mechanics Laboratory Proceedings (Faculty180)

cited authors

  • Cioc, Carmen; Zhao, Qiuying; Cioc, Sorin


  • Abstract: The Fluid & Hydraulic Mechanics course in our Mechanical Engineering Technology Program is the first of the two fluid mechanics related courses our students take in our ET Department. The course is an introduction to fluid mechanics and it is structured as a 3 credit hour lecture plus 1 credit hour laboratory. During the spring 2018 term, a new laboratory exercise was introduced in our curriculum to cover two types of forces in fluid mechanics: buoyancy and momentum forces. The exercise consists of two parts: a simulation procedure using the PhET Buoyancy online simulation tool and a hands-on exercise in the fluids laboratory to investigate the momentum equation applied to a control volume. The hands-on laboratory set-up was previously developed by a group of students enrolled in our Senior Technology Capstone. For the PhET Buoyancy simulation lab, a series of problems were designed to let the students determine the buoyancy status of different bodies, the forces acting on them, the displaced volumes, etc. For the hands-on exercise, a jet boat model was 3D printed so that the water is pumped through it and ejected from a nozzle at the bottom of the boat submerged in the water tank. The volume flow rate of the jet can be adjusted through a valve and a Vernier Dual-Range force sensor is used to measure the force balancing the jet flow force. A Vernier LabQest 2 unit is paired with the sensor for data collection. Based on our experience and the students’ feedback, the newly introduced combined laboratory exercise showed an improved understanding of the theory and can be used to satisfy the ABET student learning outcomes c (an ability to conduct standard tests and measurements; to interpret experiments, and apply exp. results to improve processes), e (an ability to function effectively in teams), and g (an ability to apply written, oral, and graphical communication in both technical and non-technical environment; and an ability to identify and use appropriate technical literature).

publication date

  • 2019