Thermal Fluids Experimentation and Design (24-321)


Developed by Prof. Yoed Rabin

(Launched in the spring of 2008)


Department of Mechanical Engineering

Carnegie Mellon University



Course Description:

This is a capstone course for the thermal-fluids core-courses sequence. This course combines two units: experimentation and design. The experimental experience covers techniques of measurement, uncertainty analysis, system analysis, and realization of systems, which demonstrate fundamental principles in thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and heat transfer. The practice of thermal design of a system is also integrated into this course.



Thermodynamics (24-221), Fluid Mechanics (24-231), Heat Transfer (24-322)



Experimentation Unit

“No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.”

-- Albert Einstein



  1. To review basic concepts in thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and heat transfer
  2. To reinforce analysis techniques
  3. To practice experimental techniques
  4. To practice computerized monitoring and control
  5. To develop research skills
  6. To stimulate solution development for the thermal design project
  7. To improve team working skills
  8. To improve reporting skills


Lab Activity Organization:

The class is divided into parallel sections of up to 27 students each. Each class section is further subdivided into teams of three students. Each team performs all lab and design activities together through the semester. The experimentation unit is based on 9 weekly lab sessions. Each lab session is performed on a different system. A system manual and tutorial is post on the course web site for each lab session, to help students prepare for the lab and to guide the students through the process of system analysis and lab report preparation.


Experimentation Systems:


Contributors to the development of laboratory exercises:

Dr. Jorge L. Jimenez-Rios, Prof. Shelley Anna, Prof. Elon Terrell, Professor C. Fred Higgs III, Prof. Shawn Litster



Thermal Design Unit

 “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

                                                                                                                                               -- Steve Jobs



  1. To design a thermal system
  2. To practice decision making
  3. To reinforce analysis techniques
  4. To provide cost estimation of a developed product
  5. To improve team working skills
  6. To improve reporting skills


Design Activity:

This unit is focused on a team effort to design a thermal system. The product to be designed and its desired operational parameters are assigned to each team at the beginning of the semester. The thermal design projects are performed in teams. The design project is includes:

            I.     Conceptual design

           II.     Component design

         III.     Detailed analysis

         IV.     Final design

Selected lectures accompany the design activity to review principles of design, fluid mechanics, heat transfer, and thermal analysis of integrated systems. Progress reports/presentations are due at the end of each phase, and a prototype design report is due at the end of the semester. No experimentation lab activity is scheduled for the weeks in which the design reports are due.