Using computers in teaching gas dynamics


To assist in the teaching of undergraduate gas dynamics in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Memphis, two workstation-based interactive flow simulators, VU-INLET and VU-SHOCK, developed at the NASA Lewis Research Center were used by students. The simulators were offered as supplements to a traditional lecture course in an effort to help students develop a better and more intuitive understanding of gas dynamics. The programs simulate flow through a supersonic inlet, and supersonic flow past a wedge or series of wedges. For each program the flow conditions and geometries were interactively specified by the student using a graphical user interface. The appropriate one-dimensional aerodynamics equations were quickly solved by the programs, and numerical and graphical output were displayed as the input conditions were varied. The quick response to variation of input parameters allowed the students to easily evaluate a large number of "what if" scenarios, to recognize immediately that they had specified invalid conditions when they did so, and to examine far more cases than would have been possible if obtaining solutions "by hand." The interactive nature of the programs, with immediate feedback, seemed to significantly accelerate the learning process. It appeared to the instructor that these software packages were a definite aid to the students in developing a better and more intuitive feel for the physics of gas dynamics.

Publication Title

ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings

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