Exemplar Content
 17 Favorites
PBL, Fluid Mechanics, & Uncle Mort
Updated: 9/8/2021 10:30 AM by Becky Benishek
This is a problem-based learning (really entrepreneurially minded learning) project for a junior level fluid mechanics course. Students perform customer interviews with the professor to understand customer needs, identify the necessary system components, and design a fluid delivery system. The project was assigned in multiple sections of the course with 15-40 students, but could work in a class of any size. Students worked in teams of 2-4. The majority of the project was completed outside of class over the course of 4-5 weeks, although some class sessions were devoted to helpful input and team discussion. To assure student success, all teams should meet with the professor during the course of the project.

The problem described is to design an appropriate water supply system from a lake to an elevated location. While the problem statement indicates water needs for a small cottage, the students must also consider later upgrades for an entire hotel. The technical challenge is to create a fluid delivery system including pipes, pumps, and the various components typical of such systems that meet customer needs. A “hidden” opportunity is embedded in the problem statement to create a system which is significantly cheaper by strategically using the full potential of the described terrain and certain times of day for pump usage. The project includes a preliminary “first week” reply, preliminary report, and final design report.
Learning Objectives
• Design a pipe system and choose an appropriately sized pump for the given fluid needs.
• Distinguish the difference between pipe component options and pump options to minimize fabrication and operational cost.
• Identify an alternate design (i.e., an opportunity) which will create higher value over traditional design.

Instructor Tips
- The instructor will need to “wear two hats” during the course of the project. You will need to answer questions from the customer point-of-view as well as questions posed to an expert (i.e., you the instructor). Be sure to ask the student to whom their question is being addressed.
- Remember to keep the students focused on fluid mechanics and the customer’s wants. This project can become enormous if not contained. Just have the students cover the basics.
- I have found that mentioning a few key facts about pumps saves lots of time (i.e., reduces some hardship) for the teams and relieves the instructor from answering the same basic questions for each team.
- Remind the students at nearly every class period over the multi-week span of the project work that they need to ask questions of the customer.
  • Demonstrate constant curiosity about our changing world
  • Integrate information from many sources to gain insight
  • Assess and manage risk
Creating Value
  • Identify unexpected opportunities to create extraordinary value
  • Persist through and learn from failure
  • Determine Design Requirements
  • Perform Technical Design
  • Analyze Solutions
  • Validate Functions
  • Identify Opportunity
  • Evaluate Tech Feasibility, Customer Value, Societal Benefits & Economic Viability
  • Test Concepts via Customer Engagement
  • Communicate Solution in Economic Terms
  • Develop Partnerships & Build Team
  • Architectural Engineering
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Civil Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Agricultural Engineering
  • Environmental Engineering
This folder includes introduction to the course, instructor reflections, and links to KEEN framework.
Title Type Ext Date Size
Introduction.docx Instructor Notes .docx 12/18/2017 23.1 KB
Instructor Reflections.docx Instructor Notes .docx 12/10/2017 21.2 KB
The 3Cs for Gerhart Fluids Project.docx Instructor Notes .docx 1/2/2018 21.9 KB
This folder includes the syllabus where the module was implemented and learning objectives.
Title Type Ext Date Size
Course Description.pdf Other .pdf 11/29/2017 95.3 KB
Syllabus.pdf Syllabus .pdf 11/29/2017 269.6 KB
Learning Outcomes for Module.docx Other .docx 11/29/2017 22.5 KB
This folder includes all information given to the students about the project.
Title Type Ext Date Size
Design Project Information.docx Instructor Notes .docx 12/10/2017 13.1 KB
Design Project Assignment Handout.pdf Activity / Handout .pdf 12/10/2017 131.7 KB
Assessment Overview.docx Assessment / Rubric .docx 12/10/2017 20.9 KB
Project Evaluation Survey.pdf Activity / Handout .pdf 12/10/2017 115.4 KB
This folder includes descriptions about how this has be adapted in the past and options to adapt the project in the future.
Title Type Ext Date Size
Adaptations.docx Instructor Notes .docx 11/29/2017 20.9 KB
This folder includes publications about the project.
Title Type Ext Date Size
ASEE 2016 Gerhart EML Fluids paper.pdf Other .pdf 11/29/2017 892.4 KB
JEEN paper Gerhart Fluid Mechanics EML.pdf Other .pdf 11/29/2017 1.9 MB
KEEN Article Other 12/10/2017 -