ME201: Fluid Mechanics

Course Syllabus for "ME201: Fluid Mechanics"

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You may think at first that the words “fluid” and “mechanics” should not go together.  However, the ways in which fluids (gases and liquids and a few other materials) respond to forces, exert forces, and move from one place to another (their mechanics) are crucially important to many aspects of our experience and our ability to build tools. Consider, for example, the following areas in which fluid mechanics play an important, if not fundamental, role: - Meteorology and ocean dynamics (tsunamis, hurricanes, and tornados) - Fluid flow within living systems (blood flow, lymph flow, air flow) - Hydraulic machinery (jacks, pumps, lifts, steering mechanisms) - Chemical processing and piping (pumps, reactors, separators, pipelines) - Turbomachinery (jet engines, power plants) - Aeronautical and ship machinery (airplanes, helicopters, boats and ships)

In this course you will first learn about the definition of a fluid and the properties of a fluid, such as density, compressibility, and viscosity.  You will then see how these properties influence the way in which fluids flow in response to pressure and velocity variations.  You will study this dependence via conservation equations for mass, momentum, and energy. Use and solution of these equations for many situations allows the determination of many details of the fluid flow. This course focuses on applications to two specialized situations: flow in pipes and flow around submerged objects (wings for example).  In particular, you will learn to calculate pressure drops in piping systems and forces around submerged objects when exposed to flow.  The course concludes with a brief introduction to the complexities of compressible flow, as opposed to flow in which the fluid density is constant.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Formulate basic equations for fluid engineering problems.
  • Use the Poiseuille equation, Reynolds number correlations, and Moody charts for description of laminar and turbulent pipe flows.
  • Use tables, figures, and energy equations to predict pressure drop in pipes, across fittings and through pumps and turbines.
  • Perform dimensional analysis and identify important parameters.
  • Calculate pressure distributions, forces on surfaces, and buoyancy.
  • Analyze flow situations and use appropriate methods to obtain quantitative information for engineering applications.

Course Requirements

In order to take this course, you must:

√    Have access to a computer.

√    Have frequent broadband Internet access.

√    Have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (e.g. Adobe Reader or FLASH.  For some modules of this course you will need RealPlayer.)

√    Have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer

√    Have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (.doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.).

√    Be competent in the English language.

    Have read the Saylor Student Handbook.

√    Have completed the following courses from “The Core Program” of the Mechanical Engineering discipline: ME101, ME102, MA101, MA102, MA103 and MA221.

Course Information

Welcome to ME201.  Below, please find general information on this course and its requirements. 
Course Designers: Stephanie Redfern and Tuan Dinh
Peer Reviewers: Dr. Steve Gibbs
Primary Resources:  This course is composed of a range of different free, online materials.  However, the course makes primary use of the following free, online resources from academic institutions that are key to completing this course:

In addition, please note that there are several video demonstrations of important fluid mechanics phenomena; these should be an enjoyable and informative part of the course. It is imerative that you have adequate computer resources (connection speed and software) to take advantage of these resources.
Requirements for Completion: In order to complete this course, you will need to work through each unit and all of its assigned materials.  Pay special attention to Unit 1, as this unit lays the groundwork for understanding the more advanced, exploratory material presented in the latter units. You will also need to complete review exercises at the end of each unit. Pay special attention to these since they will provide examples of expectations for the Final Exam.
In order to “pass” this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the Final Exam.  Your score on the exam will be tabulated as soon as you complete it.  If you do not pass the exam, you may take it again.
Time Commitment: You should be able to complete this course in approximately 120 hours of study and creative effort.  Each unit includes a “time advisory” that lists the amount of time you are expected to spend on each subunit.  These should help you plan your time accordingly.  It may be useful to take a look at these time advisories and to determine how much time you have over the next few weeks to complete each unit, and then to set goals for yourself. For example, Unit 1 should take you 17 hours.  Perhaps you can sit down with your calendar and decide to complete subunit 1.1 (a total of 2 hours) on Monday night; subunit 1.2 (a total of 3 hours) on Tuesday night; half of subunit 1.4 (about 2 hours) on Wednesday night; the remainder of subunit 1.4 (about 2 hours) on Thursday night; etc.
Tips/Suggestions: Most of the materials for this course are easy to read or study quickly; it is easy to convince yourself prematurely that you understand the material. Re-reading may be a useful technique to help better understand the material.  Most students learn this sort of material best by implementing example calculations either by hand or by machine.  In fact, many students really begin to understand the underlying mathematics only after implementing numerical calculations by machine.
Table of Contents: You can find the course's units at the links below.