This paper describes an educational program in practical thermal systems design that encompasses design project-oriented teaching of undergraduate, graduate and off-campus professional students, industry-university collaboration, and community outreach. The program uses an integrated approach that treats thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and heat transfer as parts of one interconnected area, in which solutions to real-life design problems can be obtained only when all these aspects are considered simultaneously. Cooperation between students at various stages of their educational and professional careers is fostered to maximize the synergy that results from combining insights gained in industry and those developed in structured classroom instruction.
The program consists of a comprehensive portfolio of Thermal Systems Design Instruction Initiatives. An interactive design laboratory format is used for cooperative execution of open-ended mini-projects spanning two-to-three weeks, and a semester-long project. The use of virtual project groups through the web removes geographical barriers. Computer programs for the solution of projects are placed on-line to create a design library for use by students in future semesters as case studies. An Energy-Efficient Environmentally-Safe Design Studio is planned where projects on environmental responsibility, and energy efficiency can be conducted for the local community. Annual design studio conferences will be held to foster K-12 and community involvement, and to demonstrate sustainable technologies. Collaboration with local thermal systems related organizations such as the Iowa Energy Center is also being pursued, which will provide inherent mechanisms for technology transfer from course-related projects to industry and the community.