Design and build a water channel for a fluid dynamics lab

Azar Eslam Panah, Amir Barakati

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Water channels are used for a variety of educational and research purposes including hydrodynamic and aerodynamic studies. The design, construction, and operation of such facilities involve numerous engineering challenges that make it a well-suited choice for an undergraduate capstone project whose emphasis is on multidisciplinary engineering capabilities, exposing to research, and learning and applying state-of-the-art methodologies. Since there was a need to build a water channel facility for the new Fluid Discovery Lab at Penn State University at Berks, a project was defined and presented to the Electro-Mechanical Engineering Technology (EMET) students as an option for their Senior Capstone Project courses (EMET 403 and EMET 440). The specific engineering focus of this project included the following: a) framing support structure and glass test section design, b) pump selection, c) flow conditioning to enable laminar freestream flow, d) controls with implementation, and e) filtration analysis. In fact, this project reinforced the goals of the degree program by providing problems that required knowledge in Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Controls Engineering. Students not only had to employ their engineering skills to design and implement, but also were confronted with time and budget as well as interacting with different vendors. In particular, students had to combine their knowledge in the field of Statics, Strength of Materials, Fluid Mechanics, PLC Programming, Instrumentation, Computer Aided Design (CAD), and Economics. The students found themselves to be fortunate to choose this project and they were very committed to its completion. However, the farther they got into the project, the more they realized it was a much larger task than they initially thought. During the design stage, it took a long time to create a structure in SolidWorks that would meet the project requirements, while staying within the budget. It also gave the team a new insight for what could be considered as a small scale project in an industrial environment. Verbal and technical communications along with an effective documentation were the key factors for the water channel construction in an efficient manner. The team put significant effort into providing a high quality facility that can be used for teaching and research purposes. While the design project worked well as a capstone project, the constructed water channel will be used as a valuable facility in both Mechanical Engineering and Electro-Mechanical Engineering Technology programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jun 24 2017
Event124th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Columbus, United States
Duration: Jun 25 2017Jun 28 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


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