The present paper treats the finned array problem using the symbolic algebra package in Maple. The use of Maple not only alleviates the tedium of algebraic manipulation, but its powerful numerical and graphical capabilities allow numerical results to be tabulated or portrayed graphically. To illustrate the effectiveness of Maple, a configuration consisting of a rectangular fin cascaded with a triangular fin is considered. The problem formulation has three distinctive features. First, a convective boundary condition is imposed at the base of the fin unlike the constant base temperature condition that is commonly used. Second, the model allows the thermal conductivities of the rectangular and the triangular sections to be different. Prior studies of a finned array have all assumed the thermal conductivity to be the same throughout the structure. Third, the convection heat transfer coefficient for the triangular part, i.e. h1, is taken to be different from that of the rectangular part, i.e. h2. Previously reported analyses have assumed a uniform h for all the surfaces of the structure. The paper demonstrates that the use of Maple allows new and challenging problems in heat conduction to be introduced in both the undergraduate and graduate heat transfer courses.

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