The mechanical engineering faculty at the United States Military Academy recently implemented an integrated, two-course thermal-fluid systems sequence that presents fundamental thermodynamics and fluid mechanics topics. Instructors introduce students to these topics by exploring operational aspects of five complex systems: a helicopter, a power plant, a total air-conditioning system, an automotive system, and a high performance aircraft. Additionally, both courses incorporate laboratories, demonstrations and hands-on educational aids, design projects, and self-learning opportunities to reinforce understanding of fundamental concepts. Results from the first year the sequence was taught indicate students prefer learning topics from a global perspective and integrating thermodynamics and fluid mechanics topics reinforces student learning and retention of fundamental concepts. Challenges to teaching an integrated thermal-fluid systems sequence include lack of availability of textbooks that present thermodynamics and fluid mechanics topics in a truly integrated manner and establishing equivalency of courses within the integrated sequence with courses taught at other universities for those students on semester exchange programs.

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